China Permits First Korean Game in 4 Years


There’s little doubt that the Chinese market is growing fast and that the economy will soon displace the United States if not rival it for years to come. That said, the video game industry is still somewhat in its nascent stages even with titans like Tencent on the scene.

And, just like movies, you better have a toehold in the domestic market in the PRC because there is money to be made there.

So you can only imagine how painful it must have been for Korean game developers to be denied access to this massive and growing market for nearly four years. Yet that changed just recently with the first approval of a Korean game for release in the Chinese domestic market.

The game Summoners War was permitted for sale in the Chinese market it appears as a result of cooling tensions between the governments of South Korea and China. Developed by Com2us, the game is a landmark in many ways unrelated to gaming, namely because it is the first to get through but also it calls attention to the whole reason this embargo existed in the first place.

The Financial Times reports that the reason no new games were approved for domestic consumption in China from Korea is because of the ROK’s decision to permit a United States missile defense system on their soil. Ostensibly to protect the ROK from an attack from its neighbor to the North, the system could, theoretically, be used against the PRC as well.

This story draws attention to the fact that some pretty tough measures can be implemented by the Chinese government should its trading partners displease it. Other examples of this exist in sports as well as movies with content adjusted to meet political correctness standards and athletes and officials being criticized for perceived anti-PRC statements. For South Korea, long enjoying the economic boon that the export of its products and popular culture has created, such partnerships are crucial to its overall trade strategy.

On the trading side of things, analysts see this as a positive development between the two countries.

SK Securities’ Lee Jin-man told the Financial Times of the deal, “It is certainly a positive signal for Korean game makers and entertainment firms as China is a very important market for them…But it remains to be seen whether China will begin to open its market for Korean cultural exports in earnest, because their decision is closely linked to geopolitical issues.”

It just goes to show you that video games can be about more than, well, fun and games. The interesting thing to watch in the future will be how this impacts gaming in a broader sense as Chinese games and the domestic market there become more influential.

What do you think of China’s presence in the gaming industry? Do you think the country will become a major market for gaming? How about developing games? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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