It is not an exaggeration to say that the Korean game market is currently monopolized by MMORPG role-playing games.
Famous game companies in kimchi continuously invest and develop role-playing mobile games. Thanks to the popularity of smartphones, mobile gaming is gradually becoming a necessity in daily life, along with simple payment using Google Play Store and App Store.
However, there is another feature of the mobile game market in Korea that many of the highest-grossing mobile games are MMORPGs. In fact, if you look at the top 10 top grossing games on the Google Play Store as of September 2022, you can see that 8 out of 10 games are MMORPGs.
Of course, high sales does not mean many users. According to the mobile index report, the game with the highest number of monthly users (MAU) as of August (Google Play + App Store + One Store combined) is Pokemon Go with 2.02 million. On the other hand, Lineage M ranked first in terms of overall sales in August, not even making it into the top 50 of MAU.
In fact, if you judge the success of a game based on MAU, there are many games in the Korean mobile game market of various genres such as RPG, puzzle, FPS, poker, racing, etc… However, in the gaming industry, revenue is often measured by the size of the revenue. No matter how good a game is, if you don’t earn money, the life of the game will be significantly shortened. The game cannot last long in the market.
So, what makes MMORPGs with few players take the top spot in terms of revenue? To understand this, it is first necessary to look at the structure of mobile game sales. In fact, not many users directly spend money on mobile games. A small number of users spend a lot of money on games and the game company generates sales.
In fact, according to Mobile Index survey data in 2016, the payment rate of all mobile game users is only 4.7%. Among them, 75.38% of users pay less than 100,000 won and 13.9% are between 110,000 won and 490,000 won. In addition, 6.9% from 500,000 won to 990,000 won, 2.9% from 1 million won to 4.99 million won and 0.1% from 5 million won to 9.99 million won; also 0.09% of users paid more than 10 million won.
In particular, the high paying users who paid more than 1 million won accounted for only 0.15% of the total users and 3.2% of the paying users, but their contribution to sales amounted to 41%. In the game industry, users spend hundreds of thousands of won a month on MMORPGs in Korea.
Ultimately, for a game to be successful, it is important to attract many whalers to the game. In this situation, the MMORPG stands for “competition” and “growth” when optimized to attract users who are willing to deposit a lot. Due to the nature of the MMORPG game, conflicts with users or problems of hacking cheats are not uncommon. Besides, these games are often “pay to win”, so gamers cannot demand the balance of the game.
For this reason, game companies are focusing more on the MMORPG genre when releasing mobile games. But a problem here is that the mobile MMORPG genre is popular in some countries like China and Taiwan, including Korea. In North America and Europe, it also follows a “pay-to-win” nature.
Experts warn that the Korean mobile market is known only to game companies that develop and lose the need to equal the market with the type of investment. Game makers are also considering the above problem.