The Korean government plans to spend 180 billion won ($163 million) over the next five years to support game developers who have been facing a double whammy of intensifying competition in the global market and tough regulations, and negative perceptions at home. The five-year road map for the development of the game industry, unveiled Thursday by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, envisions efforts to bring about a fundamental change to how the public and policymakers perceive online games.
A negative perception of online games is at the center of a vicious circle that has trapped the industry in a skills crunch, a decline in the number of hit products, and slowing growth, the ministry said. “There are many social misconceptions about games, particularly on the side of parents and teachers,” said Yoon Tae-yong, a director at the Culture Ministry, at a news conference.
The ministry plans to roll out what it calls the “game literacy” program in cooperation with related government bodies to help parents and teachers forge a more balanced view of games, he said.
Korean government established an ambitious goal of doubling the size of cultural contents export, to USD 10 billion, in 5 years. Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) is preparing a mid-to-long-term plan for such goal, to be announced in May. The plan will iterate the plans to develop ‘killer contents’ in 5 genres, game, music, animation & characters, movie and concerts. MCST presented its 2013 business plan to the President on the 28th, which includes the aforementioned goal.
MCST plans to work with Ministry of Future Creative Science on its mid-to-long-term plan to create a healthy ICT environment by converging the planning and creation of contents with their distribution and consumption, which is being handled by the two ministries respectively. The close-cooperation between the two areas is essential to the success.
A 39-year-old with the surname Yim plays “My Love Dokdo” on his smartphone whenever he has time – not just because the game is addictive, but because it can garner him a better interest rate on his online banking account.
“I started playing it because if I reach level 20 the interest rate on my account will automatically go up 0.5 percentage point,” said Yim, who recently opened a “My Love Dokdo Cyber Fixed Deposit” account with NH Nonghyup.
As smartphones and tablet PCs become ever-more ubiquitous, local financial companies are grafting games to their online banking systems to attract new customers. The trend is dubbed gamification, which refers to the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts.
One of the most successful examples of this has come from Nike. When runners wear the brand’s sneakers equipped with a sensor called Nike Plus, it calculates the number of calories burned, measures the workout time and distance, and sends them the information online.
When they reach their pre-set workout target, the company awards them a trophy online. Users can also upload their records on social networking services and compete with their friends. More than 2 million people worldwide now subscribe to the service.
When a nation goes from having no smartphones to having them almost everywhere in just three years, you naturally ask what difference it makes.
I came to Korea in October, with one theory about this: that this was another example of smartphones opening a country to the world. I left with a slightly different theory, that Korea ― especially its young people ― was already open to the world, the smartphones just made it easier for them to reach it and touch all of it at once. I was lucky enough to meet PSY and have an hour taking questions from students who had travelled from across Korea, who all showed a real desire to reach out and succeed across borders.
It’s only natural that they should pick the Internet to do that. Consumer electronics have been experiencing a global transition, and Korea is leading the way into what I see as the third wave of consumer electronics.
For the full article by Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman, see Korea Times.
Korean game developers are rushing to make games for mobile phones. In the United States the dominating game platform has been consoles, whereas in Korea the desktop computer has reigned supreme for over a decade due to the prevalence of Internet cafes beginning in the late 1990s.
According to the Korea Communications Commission, there will be 30 million smartphone users by the end of August and this number will continue to increase.Major game makers Nexon and NCsoft are adjusting their focus to reflect the changes in people’s lifestyles that now revolve around wireless devices.
NCsoft, known for popular online role-playing titles such as Lineage and Aion, started investing in mobile projects even before the dawn of smartphones in 2008. The prior services were mostly supplementary features to games, but the company is at present creating a new game specifically for wireless devices, said an NCsoft spokesman.
Though mobile carriers are seeing a rapid rise in long-term evolution (LTE) network subscribers, they are also anxious to earn revenues from what was hitherto considered out of their business areas.
SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus have shown near same services in telecommunication business recently, all boasting a nationwide LTE network and all releasing voice over LTE (VoLTE, or making voice calls available on an LTE network).
Market saturation and the declining profits due to heavy investments on network building are now pushing companies to find a way to increase competitiveness by differentiating themselves from rivals, especially for the second half of this year.
SK Telecom, which announced 4 million LTE subscribers Sunday, wants its members to take a keen interest in its growing content.
Mobile carrier LG Uplus unveiled its cloud computing based game platform called C-games, Wednesday.
Subscribers of various network services can purchase games from the C-games website that can then be played on any device with Web connectivity.
“We have a top level network with more competitiveness than other mobile carriers or broadcasters,” said Chun Byung-wook, senior vice president of LG Uplus’ service platform division. “Cloud games are a central service to LG Uplus’ LTE (long-term evolution) strategy and will once again revolutionize the market.”
“Through cloud games, we want to create a new value for users and let them enjoy high memory games.”
IT has become a mainstay of Korea’s export driven economy, and aggressive investments have made Korean firms into dominant players in semiconductors, LCD panels, and mobile phones. Despite their success, new challenges await Korean firms in the form of increased competition from China, and pressure to diversify into components and software.
Korea’s IT and electronics industry began with assembly of radio sets in the 1950s. By the 1980s, Korean firms had moved into semiconductor production, and by the 1990s, Korean firms were producing high quality consumer electronics and exploring high-speed Internet services. IT is now one of the nation’s backbone industries, accounting for nearly 11 percent of GDP, and 33 percent of exports in 2010. Korea’s IT success has thus far been mostly a hardware phenomenon, but Korean firms are now increasingly looking into software as the industry evolves.
Korea’s IT exports reached $158.8 billion in 2011, a three-fold increase from 2001. Share for the IT industry in exports is characteristically high, peaking at 39 percent in 2004, though this is expected to decline to 29 percent in 2011. The trade surplus for IT, moreover, has consistently outstripped the nation’s overall trade balance since 2001. Even during the global financial crisis of 2008, when Korea posted a trade deficit of $13 billion, the IT industry recorded a surplus of $58 billion. Korean IT has also been a strong performer in comparison to other nations. After ranking third in the world from 2005 to 2008, Korean IT’s trade balance overtook Japan in 2009 and 2010 to take the No. 2 spot behind China. In terms of IT export volume, Korea climbed to 5th in the world in 2009 from 10th in 2001, greatly narrowing the gap with No. 4 Japan.
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Korea’s information technology firms are expected to either see robust growth or get back on track in 2012.
They will continue to take a leading position in the industry by rolling out new and innovative premium electronic goods like smartphones and 3-D capable smart televisions, while local mobile carriers will move to quickly adapt to the upgraded fourth generation network technology.
Online portals are also expected to center their attention on mobile advertising and mobile messaging to widen their business portfolio for 2012.
Here are the outlooks for major Korean IT firms for this year:
Teenagers in South Korea use smartphones mostly to play games and listen to music, while adults use the device as a clock or an alarm, a report showed.
According to a report by the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) and Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA), smartphones were used differently by each generation. Those aged between 12 and 18 chose listening to or downloading music, or games and entertainment as the main services they use, picked by 85.7 percent, each; while 90 percent of people 19 or older chose the alarm and clock. Eight out of 10 were also using the smart device as a calendar or as a means to manage their agenda, while 69.1 percent of them were using it for games and entertainment.
The survey also showed a steep increase of tablet users. While users of tablets such as the iPad and Galaxy Tab account for only 8.1 percent of smartphone owners in the first half of last year, it rose to 15 percent in the report based on a survey in the latter half of last year.