In Korea, the social network gaming market is definitely growing fast but not necessarily in the same direction as the North American market. The Korean market is more skewed towards an MMORPG-like online games. This posting will discuss the differences and similarities between two markets, and review major social network games in Korea.
Korea vs. North America
Let's look at the North American social network game from a Korean user's point of view. The most popular games such as Pet Society and Farmville are not stand-alone games. These games are created to be played on major social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. The game itself is rather casual and simple. No fancy graphics nor complicated gameplay. It's very easy to play and also easy to quit.
On the other hand, the Korean social network games come as more MMORPG-like: a heavy client, more complex graphics and a variety of in-game contents. Of course, there are more Facebook-like approaches as well in Korea. Major portals such as Cyworld and Nate offers more casual games that can play with other users.
Major Social Network Games in Korea
Nexon Star is without a doubt one of the most popular social network games in the first half of 2010. Currently, the game is in open beta. Nexon Star offers not only casual games but also blog service. Like MMORPG, the goal of the game is to create own avatar and grow it by playing mini games or collecting items. However, There is no dungeon-like features in the game.
A player can interact with the community by showing off your 'star' and visiting others. Cute graphics and non-violent contents make Nexon Star appropriate for everyone.
Coctale Online is developed by Grid Interactive and currently in open beta in Korea. The game is like MMORPG but demands less attention. It is designed to let a player be able to work on something else while playing mini games.
A 3D game Milu Online focuses on communications among users, even between other language speakers. The Korean-Japanese simultaneous translation engine is embedded in the game.
A user can enjoy a variety of activities such as fishing and collecting goods in the game. The game launched commercial service.
Catch me if you can is developed by a in-house team at AhnLab, a leading anti-virus and anti-spyware software and solutions provider. The game is available on Facebook and Nate (a Korean equivalent of Facebook).
Social Network Game or Casual Game?
Other than the games mentioned above, there are some casual or even MMORPG games claimed to be social network games. For example, Angel Love Online serviced by EYA Soft if a self-claimed social network game for its IM and Room customization features. NHN's Z9 Planet (Korean title: 내맘대로 Z9별) is a rather casual RPG except synchronizing with Naver blog.
Upcoming Social Network Games in Korea
Bono Bono Online
Bono Bono Online is currently developed by Barunson Games based on the popular comic and animation series with the same title. Not much has been revealed about the game but the developer said it would be a social network game that closely follows the original content.
The game is expected to kick off a CBT in the first quarter.
MAF Online operates under one goal: Make a Friend. Waffle Soft revealed a gameplay at GStar 2009 and received a positive feedback from the audience. A pet named Bell will reflect your emotion in the game.
MAF Online is expected to enter a CBT in 2010.
Triple Studio's Project AYU aims to be a social MMOG. A player can level up and network with other players and NPCs. The game is expected to enter a CBT in the first half of 2010 and OBT towards year end.