Games firms in South Korea are getting a funding boost from Microsoft. The software giant has agreed to invest more than $19m (£11.7m) to help develop online gaming in the nation. The money will be divided among more than 25 local developers who specialise in creating and running games on the internet. South Koreans are acknowledged to be among the most net savvy in the world and online games are hugely popular among its users.
The cash will be spent over the next four years and is part of a larger $60m (£36.9m) investment in local software development announced in late 2009. The deal involves Microsoft providing technological aid, marketing support and training for the games makers. Some of the online games with the largest numbers of players were created in South Korea such as side-scrolling role-playing game Maple Story and massively multi-player title Lineage.
The top players of popular games such as Starcraft and Warcraft III are professionals and compete in televised tournaments. Along with the US and China, South Korea has the biggest online games market. Research by Euromonitor suggests that the computer games market in South Korea grew by 12.8% in 2008, and looks set to continue that growth in the future.
South Koreans are also known to be a nation of very heavy Microsoft users and Internet Explorer is used by more than 95% of web users. By contrast in many other nations IE’s market share has dropped below 70%.
Sorry for the long wall of text, but this is definitely good news for the F2P MMO market. Next we know, Microsoft will be buying over Korean studios like NCsoft, Hanbitsoft etc. Which is also good news in my opinion.