KakaoTalk remains the premiere platform to access the exceptionally lucrative Korean gaming market, with examples such as the wildly popular Angry Birds (coming soon) and Candy Crush Saga (already available) among many other titles on the platform. KakaoTalk has emerged as the key channel for overseas game companies in Korea.
Preparations are well under way for the release of Angry Birds in Q3 2013. It has also been rumored that EA will release Bejewelled, a precursor to Anipang, on KakaoTalk. Global game companies are accelerating efforts to penetrate KakaoTalk, with leading North American and European game companies now vying for the attention of lucrative contracts with Kakao.
Candy Crush Saga is a representative case of a successful Wired and Wireless linkage social game connecting Facebook to the smartphone. It is a puzzle game developed by King, a company headquartered in Sweden. Since it was linked to Facebook last year, the number of monthly visitors has exceeded 50 million, and sales figures have hit No. 1 in 71 countries around the world. It is even believed that Facebook benchmarked the Kakao Gaming platform.
Angry Birds, likely to be one of Kakao’s major hits, is one of the most representative smartphone games available. Finland’s Rovio launched it in 2009, and it has been downloaded 1.7 billion times and is enjoying tremendous popularity as both a game and a highly monetized animation and merchandise brand.
Overseas game companies’ interest in KakaoTalk is attributed to the success of KakaoTalk and Line as messenger platforms, capitalizing on their huge user bases to promote games. Korea and Japan are placed second and third for Android app downloads, and therefore represent huge markets. Kakao game affiliates generated sales of over US$450 million last year and recently Kakao hosted the Kakao Partner Forum for its game partners. A large number of overseas game makers opened booths at the forum.
In response to its success, Kakao has updated its applications procedure for new games, making entry easier for top games. Now, games which have been on the bestseller list and the free most popular top 20 list in Korea, Japan and US Google Play and Appstore for 7 or more days are released without any special screening. It is likely that high-profile overseas games will be attracted to this lower entry barrier, which will also help Kakao in its own drive for global expansion.
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