The top 20 rankings in online games sales on Google Play Korea as of Tuesday showed five from China, with "Girls' Frontline" reaching No. 4. The game previously beat locally produced MMORPG games, which is a strong market for South Korea, to reach as high as No. 2.
Officials said South Korean game companies, on the other hand, have not been able to enter China. No service permits, required in China to be able to launch new mobile games, have been granted since March this year. China has yet to respond to requests for permits filed this year by two leading South Korean companies.
Relations between Seoul and Beijing have been strained since South Korea decided to install a US missile defense system, a move fiercely opposed by China.
Some officials say another serious problem is plagiarism. "Battlegrounds," a new game from Bluehole, sold 12 million copies through early access alone and clinched the top spot on global PC game platform Steam. Chinese competitors have since come up with products very similar in game rules and characters, according to the officials.
Bluehole has said it is considering countermeasures against the Chinese firms, but industry officials say there isn't much the company will be able to do.
"We are at a point where we question if South Korea is still the dominant country in online games," one official said. "We need deregulation in the industry by the government, but the industry itself needs to invent new game genres." (Yonhap)