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.

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