10 Korean products I would export to the U.S. (if I had an export business.) #5 online games!

Hangame is probably Korea's largest online game portal!

Okay, this article is a bit late, because U.S. versions of many Korean games have already hit the online gaming market.  But listen to what I have to say here.  I first came into contact with Korean online games in college (sometime in the late 1990’s), when a U.S. version of a Korean game called Quiz Quiz was being tested in the U.S. market.  It was eventually doomed for failure, as the only people who seemed to be playing it were Korean-Americans who were already familiar with the Korean version.  I naturally liked it and wasted a lot of time trying to dress my little game show participant in different outfits from the prize money that you could win on quiz quiz.  What’s more, it wasn’t simply a one player game that you tried to simply answer questions, it was an online event with users from all over the internet.  Each round of the game had different mini games and the way you would answer the questions was very different.  Because the game wasn’t being updated, eventually I had run through all possible questions in a week of play, and started to get repeats.  It was then that I got bored with the game and stopped playing.  I’m sorry I never bought you the kangta bangs, little gameshow dude…

Never played it, but that's not really my fault.

Later, as my contact with Korean people from Korea increased, I learned about the vast online community of video gamers in Korea, and what games were available for free.  I think for a while there was a good rival to Nintendo’s Mario Kart series, called Kart Racer, that was actually better, as you could play against people that weren’t even in the room with you.  There were also many MMORPGs, which I probably would have been addicted to.  Not to mention the vs. tetris games, and chess, and lots of other games you could play against real people in real time.

Why are you talking about games that you’ve heard of, didn’t you actually PLAY any of them?

Unfortunately no.  And that’s actually saying a lot, because I am addicted to video games, especially of the 2D variety, which most web based games tend to be.  I spent my college years rediscovering my Nintendo Entertainment System, the Super Nintendo, and emulating all of these on my computer.  In addition I wasted so much time with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Tekken3 on my Playstation.  In the dorm where I lived, friday nights were officially Mario Kart 64 nights.  I am a bonafide gamer!

Get back to talking about why you didn’t play any Korean online games!

Well, there are two major reasons for this.  First, I had a mac in college, and in Korea there is a constant problem where programmers believe that the only OS that exists is whatever happens to be the most popular one created by Microsoft.  Compatibility with non-microsoft software or hardware has always been and still is a problem,  especially in Korea, though this is slowly changing.  Very slowly.  So slowly that when I finally bought a new computer after college I got a sweet machine running XP.  Yes I miss mac, but it was really annoying trying to find software for it online.  With this problem, most of Korea’s online games were inaccessible to me unless I used my roommate’s computer.  And he didn’t seem to like it that much, especially when HE needed to use it.  But even if I was able to use his computer, I still wouldn’t have been able to play.

Why, did he have a mac too?

No.  He was fairly rich, and had the most up to date, snazziest, geekiest computer that would put most small time hackers to shame.  If it was on the internet, it was on his hard drive.   He had several different operating systems, and nothing you could download wouldn’t work on his computer.  It was the best non-Mac machine I have ever laid my eyes on.

If you are a dedicated reader, you will recall that in an article about cyworld,  I lamented about Korean websites not allowing you any membership unless you had a Citizens’ Registration Number.  The same was (and still is) true for all the popular online gaming sites.  This is the major reason why I never played any of them.  I couldn’t unless I called up a friend in Korea and asked him or her to give me their CRN.  That’s not information that people like to give out so easily.

For a while, people would simply make numbers up, and it actually worked for a few sites, but the websites caught on and received databases of valid CRNs from the government with which to cross check these.  I was basically out of luck after that.  It is possible to join these sites if you are not a citizen, but the process involves faxing your passport to the gaming company and a long waiting period.  Um, no thank you.  In America we call that “sensitive information”.

These policies basically killed off what could have been a huge dedicated block of consumers, as Korea’s online gaming technology was centuries ahead of anything the U.S. had to offer at the time.  Now the competition has caught up, and even though Korean gaming sites have their localized versions, they missed out on a huge opportunity back then.

But don’t the gaming sites offer the games for free and get their revenue from advertisements?


Wouldn’t those advertisements, in the Korean language, for products you can buy in Korea, have been worthless, as most American players wouldn’t even have been able to read them?


So why was it a missed opportunity then?

Simple.  The gaming websites could have gotten advertising from American companies selling products in America.  Perhaps even better than that, from Korea’s perspective, is that it would have been a great engine to advertise Korean products made by Korean companies, that were for sale in the U.S.

Once again, the silly policy on the CRN issue was a detriment to Korean commerce.  I hope one day that whoever is in charge wises up and removes this stupid rule from their websites.

Many Korean citizens say they like the rule, as it keeps their interaction with non-Korean users to a minimum.

I think though that building a wall around your store is not the best way to draw customers… and if the wall is precisely the reason why your customers are loyal to you, then I don’t want what you are selling.

(Edit:  This article claims that in 2011, Korean online games will top $2 billion in revenue, largely thanks to sales in foreign markets.  I still don’t like the localized approach, I think it would be better for Korean and non-Korean users to interact with each other, but still, $2 billion?  WOW!)


8 Responses to “10 Korean products I would export to the U.S. (if I had an export business.) #5 online games!”

  1. I don’t understand why so many sites ask people their CRNs. That’s quite annoying. I know they want to check our identification, but there are other ways to identify people such as confirming mobile number, certificate for online banking, or credit card.. Fortunately, this situation is getting changed but slowly…..

    • The Seoul Searcher Says:

      They really shouldn’t ask for any of that. When was the last time google.com or yahoo.com asked for your credit card or other certificate. If you are buying something from the website, then sure, I can understand, but otherwise it should be perfectly okay to be anonymous on the internet. Who cares if you get more extreme views that way, at least you will know the truth about how people think!

  2. I’ve never played online games since I came into north america. But I have played many video games such as playstation, nintend wii, and X-box 360. Just I’m not sure about the scale of online game market in north america, but I think in north america, Video games are more popular than online games. Is that true??

    • The Seoul Searcher Says:

      Well especially with the online features of the Xbox, PS3, and Wii, I doubt that computer games will ever really enjoy the market share that those consoles have. The exception is Real Time Strategy games (like starcraft) which require use of a mouse, and possibly mmorpgs.

  3. Come to think of it, we can play some games on facebook. And it’s kinda online game.
    Someday, there is a possibility that facebook games may become the strongest competitor against Korean online games.

  4. Well, the CRNs do provide a lot of inconvenience for non-Korean citizens, but they do play a really important role, especially since there are a lot of rpgs. A lot of the items in the game costs a lot and with no control over the identity of the users, it is hard to tract them down. Moreover, the gaming companies wants to keep the gamers to be in Korea since then cannot do anything about foreign hackers. Believe me… you don’t want like $100 worth game items to disappear in a single day lol well its more about the efforts getting the gears :S

    But, Korean companies do expand their market in a different way. They have branches of the companies in the foreign countries to take control of the server of the game. Another way is to find distributors through gaming websites…

    lol actually talesweaver, a game i been playing forever just finished their english version 😛


    Korean gaming industry ftw

    • The Seoul Searcher Says:

      I can’t really agree with you on this one. There are several reasons.

      1. You said the game costs a lot. That may be true, but why do you need to know the identity of someone to take their money? Why do you need to track them down? These costs are usually paid by credit card or some other form of payment (like paypal). If they don’t pay, then they can’t play. It’s that simple.

      2. I have heard of hacked game items before, but the game server itself is usually fairly safe from hackers, otherwise it would be hacked into on a regular basis. I’ve never heard of anyone hacking into the game from the game itself. Furthermore hackers don’t need to be members of the website to hack into the system. That’s the whole point of hacking, breaking into a system that you are not a member of. This measure does not bar foreign hackers, because if foreign hackers wanted to hack into the server, they still could.

      3. What you are talking about here is someone’s account being broken into or hacked. Hackers can still do this no matter where they are.

      I see your point on the localized versions in foreign markets, but that’s precisely the reason cyworldUSA failed, if you recall.

      Can you imagine how Koreans would feel if Battlenet was restricted to U.S. citizens only, and then Blizzard made a localized battlenet where Korean players could only play with other Koreans?

      I don’t see the point of the CRNs for any website at all, and basically it’s saying to noncitizens… “Sorry, we don’t want your money!”

      • Well, Korean games are not really safe…. lol Cause they do live off advertisement so some games are really vulnerable. So getting hacked is pretty easy. Well they did come up with a system where the users password are sent to their cellphone each time they need to log in. But, this would be quite complicated for foreign users :S.

        The CRNs prevent multiple accounts and, the hackers need to store their items somewhere before they sell them online. So, if they can track down the item and block the CRN, it would be more troublesome for the hackers.

        Well, moreover, hackers won’t be able to sell other people’s account, since through the CRNS, anyone can retrieve their character.

        Well, the main thing is that people can’t make multiple accounts. If they can, a lot of people would use Macros aka auto hunt for their character to make money. GMs can block these accounts but in the end they would just make new accounts since everyone can get any many characters as they want.

        Also, there are people who use hacks. Like for Sudden attack in the US server LOL the players kept on using programs that made them invincible. If this was a Korean server, they would have blocked the CRNs. Sadly ㅡㅡthese people just make new accounts with new emails. So… in the end, I have 50 instant deaths LOL

        Well, Blizzard did localize their game LOL Koreans can only play against Koreans and Americans can only go against Americans. :S We have to buy different accounts for each region. So, gamers who want to play players from around the world have to buy like 4 accounts which would cost quite a lot :S Emm… but, I really don’t feel any hatred for blizzard thou…. connecting the world would bring a major lag to the game lol.. well lol actually I think the Koreans are proud to be the only country to have their own server LOL

        I don’t like CRNs as well since they block a lot of my friends from playing the game. But, I also dislike bad cyber- manners When ppl are ambiguous and they have a bad day, they say the meanest things, which is also a problem in youtube :S They have the meanest racial comments in youtube. Some videos are just over flooded with racial arguments.

        I’m probably going to try this game in an english server, where CRNs are not required and see how it goes. I’m pretty sure it would be fine though

        btw… you should buy starcraft LOL … its fun lol its 60 dollars thou :S

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