South Korean Computer Game Exports Soar

Kaylin Hong, Jan. 22, 2018, 10:01 a.m.

Korea's exports of computer games surpassed W5 trillion in 2017 and are expected to go beyond that this year. At this rate, analysts forecast that games will overtake cosmetics to rank among the country's top 15 exports. Korea's top 10 online game developers expect to ship W6.18 trillion worth of products overseas this year (US$1=W1,067). Smilegate, Com2uS and Bluehole each expect to generate between W400 billion to W600 billion in exports this year, accounting for around 80 percent of their total sales.

Industry leaders Nexon and Netmarble project exports of W1.6 trillion each, and NCsoft W820 billion.

Wi Jong-hyun, the head of the Korea Game Society, said, "In the past, the top three game developers dominated exports, but now mid-sized players also generate half of their sales from overseas. Once exports to China resume, we expect game exports to surpass W7 trillion."

Last year, Korean game developers were expected to face tough times when China, a key market, implemented an unofficial boycott. But they aggressively marketed their products in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia to make up for the losses. 

Bluehole generated half of the sales of its hit game "Player Unknown's Battlegrounds," or around W450 billion, from North America and Europe. Pearl Abyss made 80 percent of the sales of its hit game "Black Desert" in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Com2uS expects to earn W580 billion of its projected W640 billion sales from overseas, and NHN Entertainment projects W280 billion worth of games exports, primarily to Japan.

They are hoping that exports to China will get back on track. Bluehole joined hands with Tencent, China's No. 1 game developer, and applied for a license to sell "Battleground" there, while Netmarble has applied for a sales license for "Lineage 2 Revolution" and is developing a Mandarin version.

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