Many might not know, but Korea is actually the birthplace of Esports culture. The increasing demand in the gaming sector for newer and more competitive games led the companies to invest heavily. At the same time, pro players started to stream live gameplays encouraging others to play the games. In no time, players started earning big money from the streams. More and more institutions sprang up encouraging the growth of gamers and before one knows, South Korea became the gaming capital of the world.
But this rise of Korea wouldn’t be possible just for the gamers alone. Lots and lots of investments and sponsorships were needed to raise the popularity and the monetary essence of the business. Without many games to shuffle through, the excitement of the gaming could have died out soon. That is why many Korean companies helped shape the future of the country with newer innovations and investments. These gaming companies revolutionized the world of gaming and gave the players new possibilities to explore.
How did the gaming industry in South Korea flourish so much?
The Korean gaming industry contributes so much to the development of gaming culture and prosperity in the country. It has flourished so much in the past decade that even the country’s economy is affected by the same. Gaming is at an all-time high in Korea and many people are directly and indirectly a part of this big gaming revolution. According to a published report, the Korean gaming market is currently the fourth largest in the world after United States, China, and Japan. This monumental development in the gaming industry has paved the way for more revenue. The gaming exports themselves contribute way more than that of the music industry in Korea. Many reasons can be accounted for this rise of the country’s gaming industry:
PC bangs are modified internet cafes dedicated to gaming. Unlike many other things, the rate of renting a PC for playing games is cheaper in Korea. Hence the increasing demands for PC rentals led the way for an extensive business of gaming parlours or PC bangs. The growing need of a generation to thrive and live the gaming experience is put to good financial use. Around 50 thousand people are actively involved in running the PC bang business in the country.
Korea is the world leader in terms of strong internet connectivity and technology. This always acts as a budding ground for gaming. Gaming of any competitive kind requires far more superior technological support. Korea provides the best infrastructure needed for new games to thrive and allows investors to invest without any fear.
Mobile Gaming is a growingly popular trend in Korea. Around 50% of Korean gamers indulge in a mobile gaming experience. This is due to the adequate supply of smartphones in the Korean market and their superior technology. Surprisingly adults are more indulged in mobile gaming than the youth, and this has contributed majorly for many gaming companies to spin the wheels in their favour.
What are the top gaming companies in Korea?
There are many old and new gaming companies cashing in huge revenue from the gaming market in Korea. The top gaming companies of Korea are
Nexon is Korea’s biggest game developing company and publisher. It is well known for its innovative and action-packed games for both PC and Smartphones. Nexon was founded in Seoul in South Korea in 1994 by billionaire Kim Jung-Ju. The parent company is NXC that holds a 48 per cent stake in Nexon. The most popular title of this company is Dungeon Fighter Online – Nexon’s top game in the Asian market. It has a long lingering impact on Korea’s gaming sector courtesy of many successful titles. The current market capitalization generated by Nexon is around $27 billion. Japanese video game developer Bandai Namco Entertainment and Nexon have recently signed a 10-year long strategic alliance.
When it comes to gaming companies in Korea there are many competitors. Closely following behind Nexon is renowned Gaming giant NCSoft. They are very popular in Korea because of their gaming hits- Lineage 2 and Guild Wars 2. Lineage franchise is by far their most successful title. It is an online multiplayer role-playing game. NCSoft was founded in March 1997 by TJ Kim. NCSoft has sort of revolutionized the genre of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. It has a subsidiary called NCSoft West that manages the companies’ western market and profitability. They had a sale of $2 trillion in the year 2020. Their Current market Capitalization stands at $20 billion.
Billions of aspiring mobile gamers have led to the success of Netmarble. As a result, the company is the leading Mobile game publisher in South Korea. Netmarble also has a huge customer base overseas. It was founded by Bang Jun-hyuk in 2000. One of its most popular games is Lineage 2 Revolution for the smartphone enthusiast in 2015. Other notable mentions under its label are Marvel Future Fight and Cookie Jam.
Netmarble has average annual sales of around $2 million. The company also happens to own some shares of NCSoft which is currently valued at around $1.5 billion. Netmarble has also acquired 25.71 per cent of the market share in Big Hit Entertainment which is the agency of Korean boy group BTS. The company has also heavily invested in research and development in Ai technologies to further the gaming experience of its customers. The company sits at a market capitalization of $10 billion.
Krafton Game Union
The most popular gaming title of Krafton is the Playersunknown’s Battleground which is a very popular online multiplayer game in Korea. This game is created by the PUBG corporation which a subsidiary of Krafton. The company is known to house different units of game developers and personnel to work under the company and create one of the best games in the market. Krafton was previously known as Bluehole. The recent gain in sales is majorly due to the release of its new title- Mini Life. The game involves the interaction of the real world with Social media gaming and uses AR cameras to enable players to click group photos as well. Krafton Gaming Union is expected to do an IPO very soon, post which its market realization can go further up from the current $9 billion.
The South Korean gaming company was founded in 2010. Its founders Kim Daeil and Youn Jaemin used to be developers with Hangame and NHN Gaming. Pearl Abyss is particularly popular for its title- Black Desert Online. The game sold like crazy in the South Korean market and beyond. This game has around 10 million users from 150 countries and is played in 12 different languages. It was so successful that it generated around $1 billion in gross sales.
Around 74 per cent of its profit in 2019 came from outside Korea. This led to more Market expansion and export sales revenue. After the success of Black Dessert online, it is currently planning a different title which is allegedly going to be a single-player action-adventure game. The game’s name is Crimson Dessert. The market capitalization of the company stands at $3.2 billion.
Gamevil was founded in 2000 and is one of the most popular gaming companies. In 2009 the company went public on Kosdaq. Gamevil and Come2us merged in 2013 and since then it has around 500 million mobile downloads. It is well acclaimed for its game- Summoners War. They have entered the world’s largest gaming market in China and thus flourishing from net revenue acquired recently. The latest would-be title release of their next game is Summoners War: Lost Centuria. The market share of the company is around $2 billion.
Gravity is one of the fastest-growing game developers in the country. It is a matter of fact, the only Korean gaming company that is listed on Nasdaq. Gravity has not been limited to the Koreans land only. It has expanded beyond the land of Korea and extended its business overseas too.
The company’s most favourite titles are based on the Ragnarok franchise. The game called Ragnarok Online and it has many followers both in Korea and overseas. Gravity is also very successful in the mobile gaming industry. Tower of Accession, Ragnarok Ash vacuum are some of the best mobile games developed by them. 2019 was very successful and in terms of accomplishment, they have achieved a lot. Its market cap is around $ 1.2 billion.
Webzen is a South Korean gaming company. It focuses entirely on the manufacturing of battle PC games and mobile games. The company has a global games portal- webzen.com.There most popular game is the MU Origin. According to the CEO of Webzen, they are working to expand their IP business.
The company is also considering moving into other gaming platforms as well. Webzen games are generally free to play but it uses a micropayment system to generate revenue. W coins are used in the game as optional virtual currency which is purchased with real money to buy any goods in the game. The current market capitalization of Webzen is $1.2 billion.
Smilegate is a Korean gaming company that is very famous for its online PC gaming experience and innovations. Their top PC games are Lost Ark and Crossfire. As it happens, Crossfire is still one of the most played FPS games in China and the Asian market. In the PC bangs of Korea Crossfire is the fourth most played game. According to the Company CEO Chi Wongil, they are more concerned with PC games than mobile gaming, unlike many other companies. Crossfire is widely regarded as the Call of Duty of East.
It has generated around $10 billion in revenue for the company since its launch. Recently Smilegate has launched its mobile service platform called STOVE. The company is growing in business over the years and looks to better its ranking in the list. The current market capitalization of Smilegate is at $1 billion.
This Korean game developing company particularly specializes in Social Casino games. There most famous game DoubleU Casino is available in more than 120 countries. These social media games usually target the large user base of Facebook and smartphones.
They deal in gameplay provisions that let the players engage socially and play in virtual platform simulation. The other popular games under their banner are Take5, Double Down Casino, and Ellen slots. They intend to be the future leaders in social casino all over the world. Their current market capitalization is around $1 billion.
Several other gaming companies are looking to make it to this list. Each day with the rise of the gaming industry, the companies are bringing in newer innovations to compete with one another. As a result of this constant brewing market, Korea stands as one of the market leaders in gaming.