Foreign game firms take aim at Korea

Officials open G-Star game exhibition in Busan on Thursday.

BUSAN ― South Korea used to be a playground exclusively for domestic game developers and publishers, with little room for outsiders to penetrate the heavily-fortified industry.

But this year, foreign enterprises ― big and small ― are taking a crack at the market hoping to attract the sophisticated Korean players with their unique game content and hardware.

Facebook's Oculus VR, a virtual reality headset maker, which is participating at the G-Star game convention, said Korea offers an opportunity for the company to create an ecosystem with content producers and display makers.

"It is important for head-mounted display devices to have full HD panels to create the VR experience, and given that Korea is home to Samsung and LG, which have the world's best display technology, the company chose to set up its first overseas base here," said an official of Oculus Korea.

"Also, Korean game companies, especially startups, are increasingly experimenting to develop VR content."

Oculus' headsets use OLED display panels, which have higher resolution and are more responsive to the virtual world surroundings than LCDs.

Through partnerships with hardware and content makers, Oculus seeks to create a platform, like Google Play, where users can access VR content, the official added.

With Samsung Electronics, Oculus will release the mobile Gear VR headset compatible with the Galaxy Note 4 next month. Also, it is currently working with NCsoft, Korea's PC online game giant, to develop a VR version of NCsoft's "Project HON," a shooting game starring giant soldier robots.

Oculus plans to commercialize the Rift headset, connected to PCs, sometime in the second half of next year, the company noted.

Shanghai, China-based Teebik, a game subsidiary of Avazu Holding, an advertising company, also seeks to foray into the Korean market via partnerships with game publishers.

Of the three mobile games it is promoting here, Teebik vice president Jessie Chen said its next-generation fantasy action role-playing game, "Storm Chain," could be its ticket to enter the lucrative Korean game market.

"We adopted high graphics resolution and solutions to create this game that does not have a control bar but only requires a finger to direct the characters' actions," Chen said.

"Korea is a very big potential market for us, and companies like Nexon, CJ and Smilegate could be our ideal publishing partners."

Sony is touting its mobile capability by showcasing its PlayStation 4, whose games can be played through the Japanese electronics giant's Z3 smartphones and tablets.