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Video Gaming to Heat Up With New Launches in S Korea

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Analysts have said that competition in South Korea’s mobile video game market is set to intensify in the coming months with the launches of new titles.

Video game giant NCSOFT Corp is set to release “Blade & Soul 2,” the sequel to its popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for PCs and mobile devices on August 26.

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The highly-anticipated cross-platform game has drawn 7.46 million pre-registrations, a record in South Korea, trumping NCSOFT’s other hit MMORPG “Lineage 2M,” which drew 7.38 million users, according to the company.

The launch comes after Kakao Games Corp., the gaming unit of online messaging giant Kakao Corp., recently dethroned NCSOFT’s “Lineage M” as the top-grossing game on Google’s Play store in South Korea with the release of its MMORPG “Odin: Valhalla Rising” in June, reports Yonhap news agency.

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The mobile game, published by the Kakao unit, has garnered explosive user response, leading analysts to rate the eight-year-old company as a major player in the local market along with NCSOFT, Netmarble Corp., and Nexon Co.

“There are expectations of significant earnings growth this year on the back of ‘Odin’s success,” Ahn Jae-min, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities, said. “(Kakao Games’) publishing strengths and the games from companies it has invested in have created synergy to help Kakao Games become a major game company.”

Competition is set to become even more fierce as Krafton, the creator of global hit “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (PUBG), is scheduled to release its sequel “PUBG: New State” in September.

The mobile game has already drawn 25 million pre-registrations globally, excluding China, India, and Vietnam, on Google’s Play store, according to Krafton, which goes public on the local bourse next month.

“PUBG: New State” is developed by Krafton alone, compared with the existing mobile version of PUBG, which was made with the help of China’s Tencent.

Analysts say that despite the increasingly crowded market, major traditional players, such as NCSOFT, will likely continue to perform well.

“The demand for MMORPGs has become apparent with ‘Odin’s success,” Kim So-hye, an analyst at Hanwha Investment & Securities, said. “‘Blade & Soul 2’ is still expected to perform well.”

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