South Korea is one of the largest gaming markets in the world. The gaming market has grown fast in the last 10 years, and its market value is estimated to go up to 19.9 trillion won in 2022. While South Korean gamers have a huge appetite for gaming, Korean game developers are among the world’s leading game publishers. The Korean game developer industry has a global share of about 6.3%, as per a report by Statista. Considering the huge fan following for Korean games worldwide, the Korean government is keen to support innovation in the gaming world.
Recently, KOCCA (Korea Creative Content Agency) that supports the Korean game industry, announced it would be investing 22.4 billion won ($20 million) this year for game development and innovation. This would mean many Korean startups developing games can look forward to better funding opportunities. KOCCA has significantly increased the budget from last year’s 14.7 billion won, and also the number of projects that will receive the fund now is 66 from 46 of last year. Game production companies can find more details on KOCCA’s website and submit their applications by March 10.
While 2021 seems promising for new game developers and publishers in Korea, KoreaTechDesk checks out some of the top Korean startups in gaming and looks at how they are performing in 2021.
Krafton Inc, the developer of the popular game PUBG or PlayerUnknown’s Battleground, has announced the new title for PUBG called Mobile New State. The game startup has commenced pre-registration for the new PUBG version that will be set in 2051 and has many futuristic items. Krafton Inc., founded by Bluehole as a separate entity in 2018, has announced that it will launch its IPO in later half of 2021. Besides, the startup has become the highest paying gaming firm in Korea.
Netmarble had a profitable 2020 with solid growth in sales and a considerably boost to the bottom line. Netmarble reported revenues up 14% year-over-year to 2.49 trillion won ($2.25 billion), with net income nearly doubling to 339 billion won ($306 million). The startup also recently announced that it has acquired the largest stake in US indie game developer “Kung Fu Factory”. Netmarble is also set to release Blade & Soul Revolution game on March 4th for western audiences after a successful run in South Korea.
NCSOFT Corp.’s 2020 net profit soared 63.3 % thanks to its major mobile game titles’ continued popularity. The company’s net profit stood at 586.6 billion won (US$522 million) last year, compared with 359.3 billion won in 2019. NCSOFT launched a dedicated K-POP entertainment platform, ‘UNIVERSE,’ in January 2021 that was available in 134 countries. The all-in-one technology platform offers fandom activities on mobile devices to build a stronger connection between K-Pop artists and fans. NCSoft will be releasing its popular Korean fantasy martial-arts RPG Blade & Soul version 2 in 2021.
DoubleUgames Co. reported its 2020 net profit of 125.3 billion won (US$112.3 million), up 13.6% from a year earlier. The company said in a regulatory filing that it posted 193.9 billion won in operating profit for 2020, compared with 154.6 billion from 2019. The game developer’s annual revenue rose 28 % to 657.8 billion won. The Top-tier social casino game developer has been listed on KOSDAQ and analysts believe it is the stock to watch out for in 2021.
DoubleU Games acquired US-based DoubleDown Interactive, as one of its many subsidiaries, setting a strong foothold in the global gaming market.
Known for its games based on Ragnarok franchise, a popular Korean manhwa (comic), Gravity is a fast-growing Korean game company. The game developer’s revenues grew 70% last quarter of 2020 and 176%, 102% and 26% in 2017, 2018, 2019, respectively. Gravity is the only Korean gaming company listed on NASDAQ directly. Gravity owns many subsidiaries in different countries, including US, Russia, and Europe, that develop global market games.
- Startup-X & KOCCA’s ‘Second Chance Program’ helps startups restart business in times of COVID-19
- Korean startups in diverse businesses using blockchain technology
- James Kuk from Twitch: The ‘Video Games Guy’ doing business development for Twitch
- Korean startup Cassel Games enters the online gaming world with a cool ‘rat’ game Ratrapolis