The online games market in South Korea grew more than 20 percent in 2008, says research firm Pearl Research. The region claims one of the highest PC ownership rates in the globe with a stunning 80 percent adoption rate, according to the company's latest study.
Over 2008, the top online game operator was Huxley
publisher NHN, who saw its revenues increase 51 percent year over year. The leading five South Korean publishers all operate free to play online games, also including Nexon, NCsoft, Neowiz and CJ Internet.
Pearl says its study demonstrates the resilience of the free-to-play market, showing that small-ticket virtual goods income remains consistent during a global economic downturn. Leading titles like NCsoft's Aion
and Lineage/i> still sustain growth on the microtransactions model.
In order for the South Korean market to keep growing, says Pearl, it'll have to contend with intensifying domestic competition, a government crackdown on web-based board games, fewer capital resources for small and independent publishers, and the correlated rise in development costs as the market becomes packed with contenders.