One City, One Country
If you can win Seoul, you can win the country. Over 10 million people call the mega-city home. Combined with the 11 million that live in the doughnut province of Gyeonggi that surrounds it, Seoul provides immediate access to nearly half of the country’s population. With the headquarters of most major corporations also in the area, it is a beacon of culture for the entire country.
In part this is due to it being one of the most well-connected cities on the planet in terms of both online networks and physical infrastructure. The city’s subway system reaches out into most areas of the surrounding province. A bullet train ride of just two and a half hours can take you from Seoul all the way to Busan, the southern-most city.
Given that word of mouth and social groups are very powerful marketing tools in South Korea, where trends come in the form of 3-4 month crazes, the right strategy can allow you to reach beyond the borders of the capital with relatively little effort. The same cannot be said for China and Japan.
Small Market, High Monetization
Although Korea has a relatively small population compared to other markets, it ranks at #3 in revenues, just behind the U.S and Japan. This is due to a number of factors that have guided the development of the domestic market.
First, domestic games have been shaped by highly aggressive monetization schemes and pay walls similar to Japan, so consumers are familiar with these strategies. Secondly, there are a number of choices in payment options that include carrier billing, credit cards, and online banking that give the consumer base a number of choices to feel comfortable with. Carrier billing is still the most popular with SK Planet’s T-Store at the top of the revenue charts.
Smaller Marketing Budgets
Although the market is still fiercely competitive, the marketing budget required to reach your intended audience is not as big as it would be for Japan. Developers with much tighter budgets can leverage Seoul’s population density to run a highly targeted campaign that still reaches a wide audience.
Similarities to other countries in the region
South Korea has the advantage of being culturally similar to both China and Japan. There are shared philosophies, stories, and holidays amongst all three. This means that after localizing your game for Korea, it will be much easier to extrapolate and localize for both Chinese and Japanese audiences. This is likely why the most successful foreign games in Korea have originated in China and Japan.
More Open to Content from the West
More so than China and Japan, South Korea has been more open to ideas from the western world. A higher general level of English proficiency among the populace allows localizations to retain a fair amount of English, while not ideal, and still have a higher chance of success than elsewhere in Northeast Asia.
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