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IP-based games to expand into drama and film

Clockwise from left: Actors Go Soo, Yuk Jun-seo, Lee Hee-jun and Don Lee appear in the short film produced by Krafton. (Krafton)
Clockwise from left: Actors Go Soo, Yuk Jun-seo, Lee Hee-jun and Don Lee appear in the short film produced by Krafton. (Krafton)

Korean game developers are seeking to follow webtoons’ successful jump to films and global streaming platforms.

According to South Korean game developer Krafton, “Bystanders,” a short film based on the company’s renowned battle royale game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, recorded over 1 million views on the “PUBG: Battlegrounds” YouTube channel as of Monday.

The two-part project surprised both local and global viewers when its first short film, “Ground Zero,” starring actor Don Lee, widely known as Ma Dong-seok in Korea, was released in June 2021.

“Bystanders,” a 16-minute short film starring top actors Go Soo, Lee Hee-jun and Lee Gyoung-young, was released on Jan. 29.

“With the unique settings and characters taken from PUBG: Battlegrounds, we will continue to produce more contents and expand its universe,” a Krafton official said in a press release Monday.
Actor Go Soo stars in “Bystanders.” (Krafton)
Actor Go Soo stars in “Bystanders.” (Krafton)

Though details have yet to be announced, local gaming giant Nexon appointed global entertainment veteran Nick van Dyk as the president of the company’s film and television division and chief strategy officer, in July 2021. The move was made in an attempt to expand its franchise IP -- Dungeon & Fighter, The Kingdom of the Winds, MapleStory and KartRider.

Though video-game-to-movie franchises are nothing new to Hollywood -- “Tomb Raider” (2001) and “Resident Evil” series are adapted from games of the same titles -- South Korean companies have only recently started applying game IPs to the video contents.

Horror-thriller “The Labyrinth” (2019), based on the survival horror game Whiteday, was the first such attempt.

The 36-part drama series “CrossFire,” adapted from Smilegate’s first-person shooter game of the same title, attracted 100 million views in China in 2020, setting a record on China’s biggest streaming platform Tencent Video.

“Even internationally famous game companies are seeking opportunities to expand their already famous IPs at a greater level, because the reproductions have proven to lead to the longevity of the original IP,” a Korean gaming company employee told The Korea Herald Tuesday.

“I believe more attempts and projects will be presented to both game and drama fans in the near future,” said the employee who requested anonymity.

By Lee Si-jin (sj_lee@heraldcorp.com)
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