The typical Korean gamer's attitude is changing. They no longer primarily purchase games from Korean developers, which means that the door has opened to non-Korean game makers. The historical reason for the close connections with homegrown games is that a solid strong infrastructure created a market for complex graphics. Read more about how this change in the Korean game market will affect you.

The new era, with a busy mobile market, creates a new route for other game types.

The best part: The door to the Korean market is opening. In order to gain access and take a slice of the Korean gamer pie, game localization is necessary. The Korean game market is growing both in downloads and revenue. A translation into Korean is a good investment if you want to reach the Asian continent.

Why is that? Well since 2013, the Korean app market has demonstrated impressive growth.

The Korean Mobile App market has grown by 795 % since 2013 and is predicted to continue to skyrocket.

Korean Game Revenues are Impressive

Even though the Asian market is huge, the game market has been difficult to monetize. In terms of Geography, South Korea is rather small compared to a giant like China, but revenues are very impressive. Revenues Generated in 2015 are estimated to be $ 4B. Let’s compare this with large game markets like Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, and France – all with revenues below $ 4 billion. With an increase of 4.5 % from the previous year, this will make South Korea, the 4th largest game market in the world.

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  • Revenues 2015: $4B
  • Increase of 4,5 %
  • 4th largest game market in the world

Korean Gamers are high spenders

Of the 25 million gamers, almost 14 million spend money on games. However of most importance here is the fact that the average amount a Korean gamer spends on games is $290 per year; this makes the Korean gamers the second highest spenders in the world.

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It doesn’t seem to have a stop in revenue increases in South Korea. The following years total revenues will continue to grow annually with 2.6 %.

The Korean Mobile Market is growing at high speed

Korean consumers are fast adopters. On average, 73 % of Koreans have a smartphone which is the second highest smartphone penetration in the world. When looking at the segment of people under 44 years old, the average number is actually 98% that use a smartphone. Korea is the world’s top country in terms of 4G, with a LTE reach of 50 %.

The average Korean gamer has 40 installed apps, has used 11 apps in the last 30 days and paid for 3 of them. Popular genres for men are MMORPG, or RPG adventure games. Women also play RPG, but also Puzzle, Web Board Games and Casual Games.

  • Second highest smartphone penetration in the world
  • MMORPG or RPG adventure games
  • Casual games

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Many Koreans commute using public transportation. You can see all ages, from youngsters to seniors, playing different games when travelling. Seoul Station’s internet connectivity is pretty powerful at 150 mbps. This period, when moving from one spot to another, is the perfect opportunity for Korean gamers to play their favorite game. It also shows that the mobile market, still in it’s infancy, has the possibility of growing fast and quickly in the near future. Korean gamers prefer free to play games, but freemium is the business model to choose for a developer aiming the Korean game market. 90 % of total revenue is derived from in-app purchases. When Koreans spend money on in-game purchases it is to beat a tough level or get extra lives.

Freemium team games are the winners

Why is that? The Korean traditions are the opposite of Western ones. In the USA, and parts of Europe, individual performance is rewarded. That is not the case in Korea. In Korea, and many Asian countries, the social aspect is very important and working as a group is vital.

Games that allow the players to cooperate, and the gamer to play with a team, or to invite others to join the game, are the winners. In app-purchases that allow the gamers to communicate with others, are the games with a high ROI.

That is why in-game purchases are so effective in Korea. Because they let the gamers continue to play the game, even though the gamer is running out of lives. The other members of the team are waiting to progress in the game, and to let them down is not a fun thing to do, the purchase is a given.

Kakao

Android has the majority with a 85 % of the operating systems in use, and Google Play a great amount of the revenue. The tricky part is, to succeed in Korea, a social component in the game is necessary. Almost every smartphone sold in Korea uses a messaging system called Kakao. And many top selling apps are from Kakao. With a base of over 100 millions users, KakaoTalk has the capability of taking a small game and distributing it to a huge number of people. KakaoTalk is an important piece of the social factor when releasing a game in Korea – Korean gamers share scores, invite friends to play, and a good game promoter will leverage virtual money to buy more in-game features.

Localizing

The Korean alphabet is known as Hangul in South Korea. It consists of 24 consonants and vowel letters grouped in blocks. Every block consists of 2 to 6 letters, including at least 1 consonant and 1 vowel. The text is written from left to right, or from top down.

The images in the game also need to be localized. Use StoreFront to upgrade your images and make them more Korean friendly.

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Is it worth Localizing?

Yes. A fantastic possibility for non-Korean developers to enter the Korean game market is here. The door is about to open, and you want to assume the best market placement available.

  1. Korean Gamers want games from game developers outside Korea.

  2. Success stories like Candy Crush, Minecraft, Terraria, Crash of Clans have succeeded in Korea.

  3. Freemium games achieve great success in Korea.

Close to 40 % consider poor translations a hurdle when buying online from abroad. Translate your game into Korean and minimize the gap to those who hesitate.

Find out more about our translation costs by clicking here.