South Korea is a haven for mobile gaming lovers. It is the fourth-largest mobile games market in the world, and more than half of South Korea’s population play games on their smartphones at least once a month. Interestingly, the largest subgroup of gamers is aged 21-35 years (19%), followed by 36-50-year-olds (15%), which is a testimony to the high penetration rates of mobile gaming culture in Korea.
The gaming industry is becoming stronger every year. Last year, the Korean mobile games market made a total of $3.2 billion, a figure that has lured game developer companies to make the most of the opportunity. Koreatechdesk.com has shortlisted top 5 gaming companies that promise to be riding the success wave well into 2020 too:
1. Nexon Korea
Founded in 1994, Nexon rose to phenomenal growth with the success of its games such as Dungeon Fighter Online. It plans to release mobile versions in best-selling games and undergo a business overhaul. Nexon recently recruited Huh Min, President of local e-commerce platform WeMakePrice, as its game development advisor.
Its CEO Lee Jung-Hun said the company is preparing for the next ten years by focusing on developing new games. Korea’s largest game developer and publisher invested $30 million into Wonder Holdings for an 11.1% stake in the company. Some of its more popular games are Arcane Showdown, Closers, FIFA Online 4, KartRider: Drift, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, etc.
More than 10% of all mobile games revenue made in Korea came from Netmarble in the first half of 2018. Overseas too, the company has garnered much success with their games such as Lineage 2, Marvel Future Fight, and Cooke Jam.
Last year they released games such as Seven Knights 2, The King of Fighters All-Star, and A3: Still Alive. The Chairman of Netmarble, Bang Jun-hyuk, shared that the company shall be exploring ways to use data flooding from the infrastructure using AI.
One of the leading gaming companies, and the only one to be listed in NASDAQ, GRAVITY, rose to popularity with their Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game ‘Ragnarok Online’ as well as their IPTV service game that uses Pororo characters.
It has impressed investors with its earnings growth – Gravity stock hit an all-time high with its better-than-expected results last year. GRAVITY has become a global player in the online game business by focusing on its development, technology, and exploring overseas markets. It has branches and joint ventures in the US, Europe, and Russia.
The company behind the hit game Lineage 2 and Guild Wars 2, gaming giant NCSoft’s estimated profits in 2020, is expected to surpass $850 million. It posted a 25.3 percent on-year jump in December last year, thanks to the success of its new mobile MMORPG title Lineage 2M. Lineage 2M topped the charts on Google Play and Apple Store since its release and is estimated to have made 274 billion won, with daily revenue averaging 4.1 billion won.
Smilegate is the game company behind CROSSFIRE, which is the most played FPS with over eight million concurrent players. CROSSFIRE is currently serviced in eighty countries throughout Europe, Asia and American regions. Smilegate is also known for its popular PC game Lost Ark. The multiplayer online game launched in 2018 involves role-playing and stages. The game was in development for seven years, with a budget of a little over $88 million. It is currently the fifth most played game in PC bangs in Korea. Lost Ark won 6 awards, including the Grand Prize at the 2019 Korea game Awards.
Founded in 2002, Smilegate has achieved a high growth rate of sales each year. With its roots in game development, Smilegate has expanded to publishing and investments, and is emerging as a global company with regional offices in the US, China, and Southeast Asia. The game company is looking to have an IPO sometime in 2020.
6. PUBG Corporation (Krafton Game Union)
For gaming enthusiasts worldwide, PUBG (stands for PlayerUnknown’s Battleground) is the holy grail of gaming. One of the most popular online games worldwide, it was developed and published by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of Korean video game startup Bluehole, now known by its parent company name – Krafton Game Union. The battleground has won dozens of awards since its launch, such as “Mobile Game of the Year,” “Best Multiplayer Game,” etc., making it one of the top chart breaking games. Last year, the PlayStation 4 version of Battlegrounds sold 7,447 copies within its first week of launch in Japan.