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80 level was at ChinaJoy and had an interview with Korean game publisher, H2 Interactive’s Team Manager Jay Lee. The company has worked with games such as Grand Theft Auto V, Evolve, and Borderlands: The Handsome Collection. He informed us on what it’s like to develop and publish games in South Korea.
We are H2 Interactive in Korea and we publish games. We do distribution and publishing of games. We work with companies such as Arc System Works from Japan. We are the official Korean partner for Take-Two Interactive and we also have our own digital store so we sell keys for Steam, Origin, or Rockstar social keys as well. We were the first company in Korea to do a key reseller store locally. Basically we were the first, we are the biggest, and the most popular because we managed to get our foot in that area first.
PC Gaming VS. Console Gaming
PC is a big market in Korea because connectivity-wise Korea is one of the best in the world. Naturally online has been kind of the main image that Korea has, but people enjoy console games as well and the only thing that sort of stops them is the language barrier, not everybody is fluent in English. As long as titles get localized, people are going to buy them for really big famous titles even if they don’t get localized. Some people actually go through the trouble of figuring out the language to be able to play the game. I think Korea has a pretty good market in terms of console games and other non-online PC games as well.
Pricing in Korea
Console games price-wise is almost similar to the price in the states, but PC games tend to be slightly cheaper than the US market price. It’s not by a big margin though. It doesn’t mean you have to get really cheap. If you take into the account the extra fees, transaction costs, and exchange rate – you have a certain price, Korean price would just be assuming that those are out. So it would be a slightly cheaper price range.
Games H2 Interactive Published
Sales-wise the biggest highlight is GTA 5. Back when it was released for console we sold a lot of copies of that. Earlier this year when it came out on the PC we also hit one of our highest sales rate for the game. Other big titles would be those kind of Take-Two Interactive style games that we expect would do well. Other games that we sell on the site as a key seller, I don’t know the exact statistics because I don’t do the sales yet. However, in general we also have global publishing rights for certain games, and among the games that we have global publishing rights for is a 2D action, fighting game series called BlazBlue. Those are one of the best sellers of the ones we do.
They are Japanese developers making that game, but we have global publishing rights and we’re registered on Steam as a global publisher as well. We do that as well. Also, Our distribution website gets rid of all those unwanted transaction fees and exchange rates, which is why we’re able to provide the games at a relatively cheaper price point.
Korean Indie Scene
I’m not quite sure about the Korean indie environment, but one team that I would like to point out is Neostream. They were on Kickstarter recently and they have a game called Little Devil Inside. I think they are the more famous of the indie developers in Korea because: A. They speak English and B. They were on Kickstarter and it’s a global platform.
The Issue of Language Barriers for Korean Developers
A lot more people speak English and speak other foreign languages as well, but because it’s a Latin language and an Asian language, the basic structure of the language itself is different and I think that’s what causes issues or barriers for games and for developers alike. Users complain because they don’t understand the language and the games they can play are limited.
The number of games they can play are relatively limited because of the localization issues. It’s also not just an issue of translating, because in Korean you have a different set of language you use for the elderly. You don’t speak to your parents like you speak to your friends. You have to know that culture to be able to implement that in the game, and for non-native speakers that might be a bit of an issue so publishers don’t want to localize their games because it’s extra cost for them.
For Korean users, it’s a pity. There’s a lot of good games people are willing to play, but there’s a barrier that prevents that from happening.
Working with Small Companies to Bring Asian Titles to Other Countries
Lots of games from Asia we want to publish to the world and vice versa and just purely number-wise, the population in the world versus Korea, you can’t even compare, so we are trying to reach a bigger audience through Steam and other global distribution channels. Definitely we’re trying to get more interaction going on between people.