Console games surge in 2007 games market

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Console games surge in 2007 games market

As the year draws to a close, it’s time for an end-of-year roundup of the game industry.
This year one of the biggest issues is the robust marketing of console games, which in the past was overshadowed by online games.
Nintendo DS Lite’s aggressive sales have been particularly impressive. The Japanese portable console, which was launched in Korea in January this year, sold 580,000 consoles as of September and the company is looking at 800,000 by the end of this year. Additionally, there are five game titles that have sold more than 100,000 units. “Brain Training Game” has sold more than 200,000.
Nintendo has helped expand the game population by age and gender ― it was previously limited to young men. Parents who were skeptical of any kind of game and thought video, online or mobile games were brain cell killers have been giving their children Nintendo DS Lites as presents in the belief that the games have some educational value.
Nintendo, however, has suffered drawbacks due to illegal copies of its games. A small chip called R4 made it possible to download not only Nintendo games but also novels and so forth.
More bad news for fans of Nintendo is that the Wii console, which gamers hoped would be released in Korea this year, has been postponed until early next year.
Sony Computer Entertainment Korea, which faced a 10 billion won ($10 million) deficit last year, is expecting to reach a 2 billion won profit after taking 70 billion won in revenue during its fiscal year in March 2008, an all-time high for the company.
Lee Seong-wook took office as the company’s chief executive officer in June and started to stir things by tightening up marketing. According to the company, instead of spending large amounts on mass media marketing like television commercials, SCEK has adopted pin-point marketing that targets categorized customers.
The company has also adopted a more aggressive marketing tool by touring more than 40 colleges in major cities like Seoul, Busan and Daegu, allowing potential customers to get their hands on its PSP (Playstation Portable).
Another significant move was the company’s more affordable PS3. The 80GB PS3 that has retailed in Korea since June has lowered its price from about 500,000 won to 300,000 won, as it has lowered the specification including the downsizing of the memory to 40GB.
The upgraded PSP console, with its wider screen and lighter weight, sold out really fast, and it was difficult to find one in the shops.
“The hard work of our employees is finally starting to show,” said Lee earlier this month.
“With further aggressive marketing, we will once again show that Playstation is the leading power in the video game market,” he added.
Microsoft’s Xbox 360 also did well this year. The company’s ambitious game “Halo 3” was named the most popular game in the PC and video game category at the 2007 Korea Game Awards.
The awards were organized by the Korea Association of Game Industry.
With the launching of the last of the first person shooting game, “Halo,” Microsoft also aggressively promoted at the game exhibition GStar, which both Nintendo and Sony shunned.
Other interesting changes this year are the developments in online networks carried by the three game console companies.
The changes have blurred the divide between online and console games.
The so-called cross-platform games have been increasing in number among games provided by Sony and Microsoft for PS3 and Xbox360.
As a result online games companies like Webzen and Nexon are expanding into console games. Webzen’s first person shooting game, ‘“Huxley,” was developed as a cross-platform, while Nexon’s Mabinogi was developed for Xbox 360.
NCsoft is also jumping on the bandwagon. It is planning to develop a game exclusively for PS3 next year.

By Lee Ho-jeong Staff Reporter []
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