South Korean Game Developers Hope to Continue Their Success in 2018

Feb 01, 2018

It is shown that sales of top-ranked South Korean game developers grew by more than 40% in 2017 due to mobile MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game). It is likely that game industries, which have expanded markets with their major products, are going to have intense competitions against each other in 2018.
According to game industries and stock firms on the 31st, sum of annual sales of Netmarble Games, Nexon, and NCsoft in 2017 comes out to be around $6.02 billion (6.4 trillion KRW). It is estimated that Netmarble Games, Nexon, and NCsoft made about $2.26 billion (2.4 trillion KRW), $2.16 billion (2.3 trillion KRW), and $1.60 billion (1.7 trillion KRW) respectively. Sum of their annual sales in 2017 is 45% higher than the sum of their annual sales in 2016 when it was about $4.14 billion (4.4 trillion KRW).
They have made such growths due to their mobile MMORPGs. Netmarble Games made more than $940 million (1 trillion KRW) in sales in 2017 just from ‘Lineage II Revolution’. ‘Lineage M’, which was released by NCsoft, made close to $940 million in sales in just half of a year.
MMORPG is a major product of South Korean game industries. First generation game developers such as NCsoft and Wemade have grown based on their MMORPGs. Casual game developers such as Nexon, Netmarble Games, NHN Entertainment, and Neowiz have also developed MMORPGs continuously because they knew that their games would be popular for a long period of time due to their loyal consumers.
Major game developers are once again putting their MMORPGs as their major products for year 2018 followed by last year. Although their sales grew by more than 40%, it is unclear whether they will be able to maintain this growth because it is difficult to grow their businesses just by competing against each other in domestic markets.
NCsoft is planning to reinterpret their major IPs (Intellectual Property) of ‘Lineage II Revolution’, ‘Aion’, and ‘Blade & Soul’ into mobile MMORPGs. Netmarble Games is planning to release popular games such as ‘Lineage 2’, ‘Icarus’, and ‘Seven Knights’ as mobile games. It is predicted that ‘Black Desert Mobile’, which is planning to be released by Pearl Abyss in February, will become a huge hit in 2018.
A key to further growth is to pioneer foreign markets. Doors to Chinese markets, which are the biggest markets for South Korean games, are still closed. Chinese Government did not grant approvals for South Korean games after it granted its first approvals for this year to foreign games. Since March of last year when the controversy regarding placement of THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) started, Chinese Government has not given any approvals for South Korean games to be exported to its markets.
As a result, South Korean game industries are turning their heads towards other large markets such as Japan, North America, and Europe. Netmarble Games achieved desirable results by releasing ‘Lineage II Revolution’ in Japan and North America in 2017.
Netmarble Games has pioneered MMORPG markets by placing at the top of a ranking and the middle of a ranking in Japanese market and North American respectively. It is planning to reinterpret Seven Knights, which is widely known in Japanese markets, as MMORPG in this year. It appointed Vice-President Baek Young-hoon as the co-CEO of its Japanese Corporate and placed him with heavy responsibilities.
Pearl Abyss has huge expectations on Black Desert Mobile. Its original online game called Black Desert was a huge hit in North America and Europe. As a result, it is likely that Pearl Abyss will have an easier path to pioneering foreign markets than other companies. COM2US is also releasing ‘Summoners War’, which was a hit in 130 countries, as MMORPG again.
Besides MMORPGs, popularity of ‘Battlegrounds’ will become the most important variable in determining successful performance of South Korean game industries. It is a battle royal game where 100 people are battling each other for survivals and it sold more than 20 million copies globally. Bluehole is going to carry out M&A based on success of Battlegrounds and is going to devote all of its abilities into having ‘AIR’ safely land on online MMORPG markets.
Staff Reporter Kim, Siso | siso@etnews.com

■Trend of sales of South Korean game developers in 2016 and 2017
▲Netmarble Games ∆2016: $1.41 billion (1.5 trillion KRW) ∆2017: $2.26 billion (2.4 trillion KRW)
▲Nexon ∆2016: $1.79 billion (1.9 trillion KRW) ∆2017: $2.16 billion (2.3 trillion KRW)
▲NCsoft ∆2016: $922 million (980 billion KRW) ∆2017: $1.60 billion (1.7 trillion KRW)
Reference: game industries
<■Trend of sales of South Korean game developers in 2016 and 2017 ▲Netmarble Games ∆2016: $1.41 billion (1.5 trillion KRW) ∆2017: $2.26 billion (2.4 trillion KRW) ▲Nexon ∆2016: $1.79 billion (1.9 trillion KRW) ∆2017: $2.16 billion (2.3 trillion KRW) ▲NCsoft ∆2016: $922 million (980 billion KRW) ∆2017: $1.60 billion (1.7 trillion KRW) Reference: game industries >

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