INTERNATIONAL FACTFILE: Korea, partner country of this year’s Gamescom, is home to a market that is wildly different to that of the UK.
The most notable difference is a lack of games retailers. While there are stores that sell packaged games, such as the Tesco and Samsung-owned Home Plus hypermarkets, these are few and far between. There are no familiar chains such as GAME or GameStop.
Instead, the most popular titles are online and downloadable games, particularly for PC. The majority of consumers spend their gaming time on MMOs like MapleStory, Lineage and Ragnarok Online.
Also popular are multiplayer versions of console games, such as EA and Nexon’s FIFA Online series. Many of these are developed by Korea’s plethora of local studios.
“Because 67 per cent of gamers as of 2011 are online game users, they simply download the clients,” explains Sarah Rogers, sales and marketing director at NCsoft Europe.
“Credit cards, bank accounts, mobile phones, certificates and gift cards are all used to pay for the games.”
While many gamers have their own PC, there is a massive demand for LAN gaming and internet cafés known as PC bangs.
Online gaming has become so popular that professional gaming has been firmly established in the region, with the top players winning thousands of dollars in tournaments.
However, South Korea has had problems with gaming addiction – typified by the death of a man who played StarCraft for 50 hours solidly in 2005. As a result, the Korean government has banned all those under 18 from playing online between midnight and 8am.
As of 2006, all video games have been classified by the Game Rating Board. Before this, they were handled by the Korea Media Rating Board. All titles classified under four age groups: 18, 15, 12 and All. There is additional Teenager Restricted class for arcade games.
The Game Rating Board has actually lifted some of the bans put in place by the KMRB, making titles such as GTA III and Vice City available in Korea.
GDP (per capita): $23,749
Capital City: Seoul
DISTRIBUTORS AND RETAILERS
Home Plus, Sonokong
Aeonsoft, Axis Entertanment, Blueside, DeNA Seoul, Gamevil, Gameloft, Hyundai Digital, ImcGames, JellyOasis, NeoWiz, Nurien, Riot Games, Softnyx, Taito Korea, Ubiport, Webzen, Wemade Entertainment, Windysoft, Zepetto
PUBLISHERS WITH A LOCAL OFFICE
Bandai, Electronic Arts, Hangame, Gravity, Konami, NCsoft, Nexon, Sega, Sony Computer Entertainment Korea, Square Enix, Ubisoft