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[Newsmaker] Online video games reclaim spotlight at Korea’s biggest game convention

Online video games have been slowly losing ground in the increasingly mobile-driven gaming sector, but they made a colorful return to the spotlight at South Korea’s biggest game convention G-Star this week.

At the G-Star 2017 that kicked off in Busan on Thursday, hundreds of visitors have been lining up to check out newly showcased PC online games such as Nexon’s “FIFA Online 4,” while cheering on professional gamers at live esports tournaments.

Unlike last year, when virtual reality and mobile games took center stage, this year’s G-Star is putting more weight on the latest PC-based online games as well as hosting diverse live esports game competitions, organizers said.

Nexon, the main sponsor for this year’s event, has been attracting the biggest crowd with its lineup of high-graphic PC online games making its public debut at the Busan convention. 

Nexon's booth at the G-Star 2017 convention in Busan, Thursday (Nexon)
Nexon's booth at the G-Star 2017 convention in Busan, Thursday (Nexon)

According to Nexon on Friday, its booths hosted more than 15,400 visitors on G-Star’s opening day, with many waiting hours for an opportunity to play and experience the featured games.

The Tokyo-based game maker is showcasing five new online PC games including the highly anticipated “EA Sports FIFA Online 4,” “Need for Speed Edge” and “Titan Fall” as well as the mobile game “Overhit.”

Korea’s Bluehole Studio, which swept the global gaming industry this year with the megahit survivor shooting game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” has been drawing large crowds with its newly showcased game “Ascent: Infinite Realm,” or “A:IR.”

Expectations are high that “A:IR” -- a new MMORPG in which players riding on spaceships battle one another on land and air to expand their territory -- will be able to repeat the success of “Battlegrounds,” which set a milestone by breaking the Steam record for the highest concurrent players this year.

Meanwhile, Netmarble Games is continuing its strategy of making mobile renditions of hit online video games. At this year’s G-Star, the Korean mobile game giant prepared 260 stations that allowed people to experience four new mobile games including “Tera M,” “Seven Knights 2” and “Blade & Soul Revolution.”

A view of the BEXCO Convention Center in Busan, where the G-Star 2017 game show is taking place (Nexon)
A view of the BEXCO Convention Center in Busan, where the G-Star 2017 game show is taking place (Nexon)

Highlighting the resurgence of PC online games, a variety of esports tournaments have been arranged for new hits like “Starcraft: Remastered,” “Battlegrounds” as well as older classics like “Overwatch” and “Minecraft.”

Actoz Soft is hosting the World Esports Games & Leagues 2017 Final at the G-Star 2017 for 12 games including “Starcraft: Remastered.” It has invited famed pro-gamers including Lee “Flash” “Young-ho and Im “Larva” Hong-gyu.

Alongside big-name game companies, a number of Korean game startups are showcasing their creations at the startup pavilion at G-Star 2017 designed to link local startups with foreign investors visiting the convention.

Organized by the Korea Institute of Startup & Entrepreneurship Development, the startup pavilion is featuring 39 local game startups including Numix Entertainment, which builds virtual reality game equipment including VR-compatible treadmills and shooting guns.

G-Star 2017 has brought together 676 game makers from 35 countries, while featuring 2,857 booths. The game convention runs through Sunday at the Bexco exhibition center in Busan.

By Sohn Ji-young (