Online and Offline Games, Friend or Foe in 2008?
Online and Offline Games, Friend or Foe in 2008?
  • Chun Go-eun
  • 승인 2008.12.26 12:48
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Every game should be fun, whether it is online or offline. That is what games are all about. Unfortunately, however, it is not so for South Korea, a battlefield of Internet games. Apart from being fun, voices are heard here and there that Korea, the icon of online games, is suffering through a great recession both at home and abroad. Domestically, South Korea has found no way out from a sharp slowdown in the game industry. Abroad Korea has been surrounded by roaring giants like Japan, USA and China. That means that the pie for the pioneer of online games is shrinking quickly. Korea now stands at an intersection that shows no way out and no parking signs. Korean online games had fundamental limits on their ability to grow. While online games have dominated the Korean territory, they have not been welcomed in overseas markets where video and console games are prevailing. The reason why Korea became an online gamer's paradise is that the whole nation is linked through broadband networks. The high speed and the stability of the networks helped Korea become known as "The land of the Online Game." The world seemed to have fallen into colonies of Korean online games. Chinese gamers were crazy about "Lineage," made by Kim Taek-jin, a Korean legend of online games. Legend Kim became a billionaire.
Now, however, the legend seems to be close to an end. Markets are plummeting amid attacks from China. China is no longer a market for Korea, but has become a lion demanding a large portion of the pie. South-east Asian countries, once markets for Korean online games, have now become players competing against Korea. The domestic market, a major revenue source for online game companies, has been saturated as its growth rate of the market has been on a downslide. To make matters worse, Chinese and other Asian games have been exported to Korea. According to a report on the gaming industry, the total domestic market for the industry was five trillion Won last year, a drop of 30.9 percent from the previous year. To analyze it by genre, the online sector has taken 2.2 trillion Won, reaching 43.5 percent of the total. And the total revenue of PC game rooms that serve online games occupied 2 trillion Won. This means that online game related industries have an overwhelming share of 84 percent of the entire game industry in Korea. The market share for console and video games that are blossoming in Japan and USA was so small that it could be neglected. The mobile games sector, which grew by 23 percent in 2006, only increased by 5.4 percent last year.

Exports also declined while imports sharply increased. The total amount of exports reached 781 million dollars in 2007, up 16.2 percent from 2006. Imports from overseas reached 390 million dollars in 2007, a sharp increase of 87.7 percent from 2006. Overseas online games exported to Korea doubled in 2007. Let's draw a comparison using world game market statistics. The total amount of the world market amounts to 92.2 billion dollars. Of that amount, about 45 billion dollars is video games. Arcade games reach 32.6 billion dollars while the online games that rule the Korean market total only 6.9 billion dollars. The structure of market shares of each game genre is starkly different from Korea. This means that there is no place for Korean online game makers in the global market. If Korean games have fundamental limits on their ability to grow, are they destined to fail in the global markets The answer is no. A new horizon is on its way. A change is coming via "a wave of convergence". As the inter relation between technology and communication began to deepen, the convergence appeared in many fields.

Television and internet converged into one. Internet protocol TV is one example. Wired Internet can send information to wireless internet. Uploads and downloads between mobile and to fixed devices enable players to provide convergent services for customers. In this trend, games can be core services. Wireless online games will become possible if they can lower the costs for service. You can connect your mobile devices with the online games you want to play. With 4th generation broadband technology that provides 1 Giga bps speed, online games can be a core service and change the structure of the game markets in the world. What matters is that game industries can wait and survive until a new horizon is in sight. Some probably can, some probably cannot. In order to have them survive, small and medium- sized game exhibitions are required. Exhibitions can provide opportunities to learn about new trends in gaming and gather information on global products. For this reason, GStar game show is drawing special attention.

150 domestic and foreign enterprises and over 3000 buyers and media will meet on the show floor to join the feast of gaming stars. As its slogan explains, GStar 2008 will help the visitors to explore the ocean of the most innovative online games and allow them to Log in their D r e a m . Organizers of the show said that the show in November would be held to help game businesses. It will provide booths for participants at lower prices. During the show, it will hold a world E-sports competition to entertain the visitors. To make it one of the best Korean game exhibitions, it will focus on online games so that foreign buyers can pay a visit to the show. Foreigners can get information on Korean online game trends and consult with domestic companies. This is to show the characteristics of Korean online games, the best of the world.

The Korean Game Industry Agency, host of the show, will create an environment where all information related to online games is accessible to everyone. GStar will be held from November 13 -16 at KINTEX, Ilsan. By allowing people to interact more with fun games through exhibitions like GStar 2008, negative perceptions can flip around to set a whole new idea on gaming. It is not only the consumers that influence the gaming market, but also the quality of the game itself that penetrates the global gaming industry. As long as we are heading towards visual generations who use visual-aids on a daily basis, entertaining games will serve multiple purposes as casual conversation topics, stress relievers and socializing tools.

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