South Korean Mobile Games Face Uncertain Future in China

Published: March 9, 2017 3:22 PM /


lineage 2

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news you know that South Korea has finalized their decision to set up a U.S. missile defense system as a protection against North Korean aggression. Of course North Korea isn’t too happy with their neighbor’s decisions but China is rather upset about it too. The Chinese state media have called for a boycott of the consumption of South Korean goods in response to the recent news and it seems that includes mobile games.

On Monday, February 27, 2017 the South Korean government finalized a deal with major corporation Lotte to use their land to set up the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor. The official  Xinhua news agency commented in response, "Chinese consumers can absolutely say no to this kind of company (Lotte) and their goods based on considerations of 'national security'". China’s concern regarding the THAAD in South Korea is that it has powerful radar that can penetrate Chinese territory making it a threat to their security.

Boycotts of South Korean cars, cellphones, goods  and entertainment have been called for among Chinese media outlets and now South Korean game developers are facing a ban of their games in China. To release a PC or mobile game in China foreign companies need to obtain a license and work with a Chinese publisher. The ban is executed by freezing licenses for new mobile games, preventing them from being published in China.

Many South Korean mobile developers and publishers release their products in China and do quite well there. Companies like Netmarble and Nexon were already planning on bringing their projects to China but are now facing uncertainties. Nexon saw a drop in their stock in the wake of this news.

Netmarble's current business area.

Games that have already secured licensing in China should be fine however, new games are currently facing difficulties and may not be able to launch in China. Among games with uncertain futures in China are Netmarble’s Lineage 2: Revolution and Nexon’s Dungeon & Fighter 2D.

Netmarble made a statement saying,

“We’ve already submitted the approval for Lineage 2: Revolution through Tencent in China and it is in process. We are currently keeping a close eye on this.”
However, the licensing progress isn’t finished and the game may not get published in China. Nexon on the other hand may have better luck with their game Dungeon & Fighter. The company explains,
“When bringing any new game to China, a company needs approval from China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT). Per reports, China will stop providing approvals for new games made in Korea going forward.

. . . among our new games, Dungeon & Fighter for mobile has already received approval from SAPPRFT, so currently we are expecting little impact as far as that game is concerned.”

It's a tense time as South Korean mobile game developers and publishers wait to see whether their products will be allowed in China. Nearly 40% of Nexon's revenue comes from China, so the restriction of their games could have a profound impact. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang claimed that the success of foreign companies in China will be up to the Chinese consumer.

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A tsundere lolita writing about games for the last three years. Somehow got involved in covering mobile games. Loves JRPG's and all genre's of gaming except… More about Alexandria