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Korean mobile games grab large share of global market

Korean-made games are grabbing a large slice of the global mobile applications market, according to industry data.

Amsterdam-based market research firm Newzoo reported that 10 mobile games belonging to five Korean companies placed in the top 20 list of Google Play as of September.

The five firms are Line Corp., CJ E&M, Devsisters, Sundaytoz, and Wemade. Games from Northern Europe such as Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga, and Minecraft rode higher in the iOS rankings.

“The nation’s mobile games are bringing in substantial revenue from the Asian markets, although in the Western countries, they are not yet a big hit,” said Seoul-based Shinyoung Securities analyst Choi Yun-mi.

But the potential to go global is there, experts say.

“Unlike online games, mobile games are less prone to cultural barriers because of their simplicity,” said Korea Internet & Digital Entertainment Association director Kim Sung-kon.

He added that overseas investors had been showing increasing interest in Korea’s game industry.

“At this year’s GSTAR game exhibition, a record number of foreign investors are expected to visit for investment, joint development, and publishing,” Kim said.

In apps rankings, two Korean companies ― Kakao and Line ― were placed among the top 10 by monthly revenue, excluding games in Google Play, as of July, according to App Annie, a ranking data provider.

Kakao Talk, dubbed “Korea’s mobile messenger” with a 90 percent market share, attracted more than 120 million users across the world, largely due to rapid growth in Southeast Asian countries.

Line began by taking aim at the Japanese market as Kakao already dominated Korea. Backed by its popularity in Japan, it is now drawing more global users ―- which topped 280 million as of September ― and has been launched in 17 languages including English, Japanese, Spanish and French.

“As the domestic market is saturated, more companies are now tapping into overseas markets. The Ministry is also planning to unveil its support plan for smart content companies this month,” said Jung Jae-bum of the Science Ministry’s digital content division.

By Shin Ji-hye (