RealTime IT News

Foreign Online Games Target Korean Market

With the nation's rapidly growing online game market, the world's leading online game companies are gearing up for their entry into the lucrative Korean market.

EA Korea, which markets Ultima Online in Korea for Origin Systems Inc. of the U.S., has recently concluded a contract with the Korea Multi-Culture Association, an interest group of local online gaming arcade owners for cooperative buying of the game.

Under the contract, EA Korea plans to supply CD packages of the Internet-based multi-player game 'Ultima Online,' which is now being sold at 70,000 won (about US$60) in the local market, to the association's member arcades at a discounted less than a half price.

In addition, Origin Systems intends to attract more Korean users by improving the overall connection environment of its game server. As part of this effort, the company plans to install a new server exclusively for the Korean users, named 'Arirang,' in Japan by the end of this month. It also plans to install another server in Korea in this coming September, which will support Korean language for Korean user's convenience, according to EA Korea.

At the same time, 3DO of the U.S. is expected to introduce its online role-playing game 'Meridian 59' to Korea from August through an alliance with BE Technology, a network-game platform supplier. BE Technology plans to market game packages that include a CD key, access program and one-month trial access free of charge.

Jupiter Communications, one of the leading market research firms in Korea, said that the number of online-game users, which stood at around 3.7 million last year, would nearly double to 7.2 million by the end of this year.

In this connection, the market research firm predicted that ad revenues of the domestic game sites may skyrocket from 1997's US$8 million to US$465 million by the year 2002.

An industry analyst said that most popular game CD-ROM titles, which were designed previously for users of independent PCs, are now supporting Internet-based multiplay, thus breaking the border between PC games and online games.

"Until now, online game sites have been relying heavily on registration fees for access and advertising sales as their revenue source. In the future, however, sales of CD-ROM titles are expected to emerge as their primary revenue source," he said, and noted that it would play an important role in further expanding the domestic online game market.