As 15 years have passed since the online game service was launched in the market, there have been a lot of changes in the game market along with the fast-growing IT technologies. As in the video game console market where two major changes of generations had occured, the online game market also have gone through great changes fromto . Some games likecontinue to remain popular among users, while not a few games were vanished even before they get to be known. Games that gained popularity by applying new concepts had a great impact on the overall trend of the entire games market.
, the first graphic-based online game, was also the first MMORPG(Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). As its successor,has opened the new era of MMORPG. Motivated by the success of, many services were launced in the form of MMORPG, which brought the prevailing understanding that online game is MMORPG. Although there were games like launched in 1999 and launched in 2001 that are not MMORPG but attracted many gamers, it was not easy to outrun the popularity of MMORPG games such as , .
In 2003,, the sequel of, was launched to continue the prosperity of MMORPG in the game market. But the reign of MMORPG was finally brought down by the advent of the casual racing game . It had a great repercussion on the game market, breaking the monopoly of MMORPG.
Moreover, the so-called‘Big 3’ projects such as Nexon’s , Webzen’s , IMC Games’ that are supposed to inherit the glorious era of, , failed successively, which evoked concerns that MMORPG has reached its limit. Gamers started to feel that they have had enough from playing same, moderate MMORPGs, which failed to differentiate and develop its own characteristics.
Entering the middle of 2000s, gamers were fed up with standardized MMORPGs that required gamers to invest much time and forced meaningless repetitions. The‘Big 3’s failure was also derived from its banality, rather than the lack of quality.
In 2004, Nexon has launched the service of casual racing game , which utilized the characters of another casual game that gained its popularity among underage groups. With its simple control and easy accessibility, has grown rapidly in the online game market. Less than a year, it has successfully attracted 10 million gamers and become one of the most popular games in Korea.
Since everyone could easily play the game and enjoy playing for every little while, the casual game has resuscitated the vitality of online game market and gamers who were fed up with MMORPGs. Before the success of , there was also that was remarkably famous and popular among gamers. alone, however, was not able to change the whole trend of game market where MMORPGs was in prime and grew much faster. When was launced, the market had hit plateau. has provided bored gamers and game market with a new breakthrough. Taking it as a signal to boost the stagnant market, game developers rushed into developing casual games, which resulted in the same situation that MMORPGs experienced. Due to the launching of numerous similar games, they were unable to maintain its popularity.
Some genres started to emerge with the development of 3D graphics. The FPS(First Person Shooter) games were better off with 3D graphics since gamers’ view in the game is different from other genres. Most of us remember the year of 2002 as the year of Korea-Japan World Cup, but for the game industry, it is the year of First Korean FPS. ???????????
, developed by Dragonfly, was the first Korean FPS game which brought the worldwide popular FPS genre. Optimized for online gameplay and Korean gaming environment, it gained popularity among gamers. Later on, however, with its low visual quality and frequent errors, and most importantly its failure in adobting new policy to charge gamers, closed its service in 2006.
After the , Dragonplay launched another new FPS which gained a huge popularity to divide the online game market with , changing the trend immediately. Unlike , however, many competitors of emerged in the game market to drag it down from its position. The most fierce competitor among them was , which still holds its crown in the game market. was launched in 2005, with more advanced visual quality than . Since then, high quallity FPS games such as , , , were introduced in the market and remain popular until nowadays.
Observing the changes in the Korea online game market, it is possible to say that it has developed from the MMORPG-oriented market to the quick era of casual game and finally reached the era of FPS. Of course, we cannot ignore games like , that became popular in other genres as well, but they are not big enough to lead the trend in the market. Then what is the current trend in Korea’s online game market?
In 2005, Neople launched a 2D horizontal scroll game , which put more actions onto the game to attract gamers and later became a top-ranked game in both Korea and China. That action is a keyword that current Korean online games are emphasizing.
Despite the recession of MMORPG genre, new games were steadily launched in the market. Reflecting the failure it experienced in the past, there were new attempts to give changes to the gamestyle. Systems that reflect gamer’s behavior into the game, introduced a large scale combat system were implanted in the new games to challange the market, but they could not achive impressive success in the market. Recently, many games are seeking ways to achieve success by improving combat system that takes up to 80% of the playthrough.
, winning 6 awards in 2009 Korea Game Awards, shows the trend in the current game market best. Action-based gameplay, with the ultimate visual experience is the trend of Korean online games. This can be seen in , , as well as ,, that are currently being developed.
This trend is proven to be working in the world market. is renamed in the USA and gained popularity in the market, while is enjoying its popularity in China. Foreign markets’ interests in games like and have already been reported several times.
Korea game market has gone through several trend changes and formed a good environment where various genres are evenly popular. Variety of genres in the market is most essential for it allows developers to provide games that satisfies various preferences of gamers around the world. In that sense, the trend of game market is a double edged sword which lures developers to follow the most popular trend recklessly while providing new opportunities to breach a new variety in the market.
A new game was introduced in G-Star 2010 this year that took a different approach to MMORPG genre. , developed by XL Games that once introduced new combat system‘Fleet combat’, is pioneering a new path in the market. Song Jae Kyung, one of the most renowned game developer in Korea, is on the new path. We had a short interview with CEO Song.
Q. After you resigned from NC soft, you have taken a long time off, I wonder what you were up to lately.
A. People might heard the news of that are currently being developed this year, but I have already started the planning of it in 2006 and buckled down from 2007, so it has been a long time. Before that, I developed a racing game and enjoyed playing other games as well.
Q. As a first generation game developer representing Korea, what is your perspective on the current game development environment compared to the days when was first launched?
A. When was developed, it was even awkward to use the term‘development environment’. We had nothing at that time. Now the technology has developed a lot and more people are involved in the business, but the higher competion weighs me down a bit.
Q. Compared to 15 years before, the game market in Korea has greatly developed in number. Can you feel it?
A. Yes, I participated in the G-Star 2009 in last november and felt a huge development in the market.
Q. Until now,remains one of the top-ranked popular games in the chart. Do you have any view or idea why the games from the past remain popular for so long? And I’d like to hear your opinion on this kind of situation.
A. As you know,was nearly the first game that opened the online game market, so it might have taken up a superior advantage. Also, MMORPG lets you build social network among peers you met in the game. And continuous updates also provided gamers with unremitting playable contents.
Q. In recent years, there were no games that achieved a huge success. Although some games drew attention before launching, they did not satisfy the gamers as much as they were expected to. What do you think is the reason?
A. Well, since I am the one who are supposed to satisfy the gamers, so it’s little hard for me to say. But, I will absorb the existing advantage and try to improve the known weaknesses that are found in the existing games with distinguished contents.
Q. Is there any part that you particulary cared about while developing ? Such as distingushed features from former games.
A. The most distinguished feature is that the environment in the game is affected by gamer’s choices and activities. This means that each server may have different maps and histories. Gamers will be the heroes in the game.
Q. There were lots of changes in gamer’s characteristics and trend. How does reflect such changes?
There may be several viewpoints, but I focused on the gamer’s desire to be more autonomous in the game. More convenient interface is also what they desire too.
will introduce gamers a new system that gamer’s behavior and decision will be directly reflected to change the world in the game.
Q. What’s your analysis on the impact of Korean games on the wold market and its current position in the world?
A. In my opinion, Korean games have built its firm position in the Asian market. Of course, we cannot overlook the rapid growth of China as well as leader of the console game Japan’s interest in online games.
Q. What do you think is the most essential thing for Korean games to have much greater impact in the world market?
A. Creative games should continue to be developed in order to succeed in the global market.
Song Jae Kyeong
<1992> M.A. Department of Computer Science, KAIST
<1992~1993> Dropout Ph.D. Department of Computer Science, KAIST
<1994> Developed MUD Game,‘Jurassics Park’
<1994> Co-Established Nexon Company
<1995~1996> Developed and commerciallized the first MMORPG in the world
<2000~2003> Vice President and Chief of Development in NCSoft,
<2003> Established XLGames, Currently CEO of XLGames
<2005. 6> Publishing contract of XL1 concluded with Neowiz
<2006~> Developing next generation MMORPG