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Top 10 Mobile Games Made in South Korea

This post is part of a new series that explores the top mobile games created in a country. Here are the top mobile games in FinlandJapanIndiaIndonesiaBrazilChina, and Israel

(1200x600) Top 10 Korea

As we continue to move around the globe, looking at the best games made in specific countries, we make our way towards South Korea, probably the only country in the world where Starcraft is a national sport, and players are celebrities.

Yes, celebrities. While you were out there scrolling through Kim Kardashian’s Instagram profile, people were telling stories of Bengi, nicknamed ‘The Right Hand of God’ – arguably the best League of Legends player in the world.

Credit: Flickr / Powder

Bengi, the face of terror. This person is literally a Messi for League of Legends. Credit: Flickr / Powder

But I digress. This time we won’t tackle South Korea’s gaming obsession from that angle. Instead, we’ll focus on mobile gaming and as you might have imagined, it’s no different here – these people are still slightly obsessed and very, very active.

Let’s look at some figures before proceeding with the list:

South Korea is a country of 50.22 million people (last count was in 2013) and, according to OneSkyApp, it has a smartphone penetration of 73%– meaning just slightly over 40 million people have a smartphone in the country. Out of that number, two thirds (66%) play mobile games, so that makes approximately 26 million players.

Android dominates the market, which is no surprise knowing that the country is home turf to Samsung. Some Still, Apple is doing a great job at disrupting its biggest competitor, with some reports saying that it reached a market share of 33%. Others place that number at 14%, which is probably a bit more realistic figure – but still an impressive one.

Gamers over there spend a lot of money on their entertainment, as well. According to the statistics portal Statista, mobile games in South Korea are expected to generate $1.4 billion in 2016. Moreover, that number is expected to grow even further, by 6.67%. By 2020, it will be generating $1.9 billion annually.
 

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Looking at the types of games they play, MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games), or RPGs in general, are South Korea’s guilty pleasure. So much in fact, that when non-RPG games made it to the top ten list on Google Play for the country, VentureBeat wrote an article about it. Think about it – RPGs are so popular there that if they’re not completely overwhelming the Play Store – it’s news.

When it comes to games, Asian markets do things a bit differently than the West – they integrate their games with their favorite communications apps. We’ve seen it before with WeChat in China, and in South Korea, we can see it with KakaoTalk.

They’re creating a closed ecosystem, where users need only register in the chat app (in this particular case, the KakaoTalk app) in order to get access to exclusive and extremely popular games. If you ever come across a South Korean mobile game that has ‘for Kakao’ in its title – that’s it.

It obviously works: according to this report, even back in 2013, out of the global top 10 games, three were built exclusively for Kakao. So let’s take a look at the best games made in South Korea.

*Interesting SDKs are courtesy of logo

infinite#10 Infinite Stairs

Android | iOS

Developer: NFLY Studio

NFLY Studio is an indie mobile game development studio headquartered in Busan, South Korea. It has been active on the market since 2012, and has since released seven mobile games, for both Android and the iOS. Its latest game, Infinite Stairs, is also its most popular product.

Release Date: 2015
Genre: Arcade
About the game: Infinite Stairs is an endless-runner style of game that goes up vertically, something like the oldie and goldie Icy Tower. In genre, it is an arcade pixel graphic mobile game that features dozens of characters and challenges the player’s reflexes and focus, while delivering tons of fun.
Interesting SDKs: 

 InMobi  Tapjoy 

wooparoo#9 Wooparoo Mountain

Android | iOS

Developer: NHN PixelCube

NHN PixelCube is a South Korean game developer and publisher. Besides building its own games, it also brings Western games to the SK market, as well as Chinese games. It has its own game platform for the Western market called Toast.com.

Release Date: 2014
Genre: Strategy
About the game: Wooparoo Mountain is a strategy game for mobile devices, similar to FarmVille or Clash of Clans. It features more than 80 different and cute characters that can be combined for a total of 20,000 combinations. The game is rich in gameplay and features advanced visuals.

dominations#8 DomiNations

Android | iOS

Developer: Nexon

Nexon is a mobile game development company founded in Seoul back in 1994. Back then it was a publisher and a PC development studio. In the meantime, it has expanded into the mobile platform and opened up studios in the US and Germany.

Release Date: 2015
Genre: Strategy
About the game: DomiNations is an RTS game that combines Clash of Clans with Sid Meier’s Civilization. It is a game of strategy and dominance, in which players build their empires from the stone age all the way to the space age. Users can choose from a number of nations, including Korean, British, Romans, Chinese, Germans, French, Japanese, or Greeks.
Interesting SDKs: 

Chartboost  Tapjoy 
 prime[31]   AppsFlyer 
Tune 

warship#7 WARSHIP BATTLE:3D World War II

Android | iOS

Developer: JoyCity

JoyCity is a South Korean game developer that’s been on the market since 1994. First building PC games, it released a few popular titles such as FreeStyle Street Basketball (firs street basketball game in South Korea) and Rule the Sky. After expanding into mobile, it first released the mobile social game Rule The Sky, followed by the globally popular Warship Battle, also known as Gunship Battle in SK.

Release Date: 2015
Genre: Action
About the game: Warship Battle: 3D World War II is an action-arcade game in which players take control of naval ships used during World War II and duke it out against other ships and aircraft. Besides the game being action-packed, it also features a shop where ships can be customized and improved.

darkness#6 Darkness Reborn

Android | iOS

Developer: Gamevil

Gamevil is a mobile games company headquartered in Seoul, with an office in Torrance, California. It is a fairly large company, that reported market capitalization of $400 million back in 2012. In 2013, it acquired Com2Us, another big player in South Korean mobile games industry, also dubbed its “oldest rival”. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Release Date: 2014
Genre: RPG
About the game: Darkness Reborn is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, featuring both PvE (player versus environment) and PvP (player versus player) modes. It allows players to choose between five different classes, and offers high-end graphics rarely seen on mobile devices. It also offers large customization options, including 1,296 skill combinations.

anipang#5 Anipang

Android | iOS

Developer: SundayToz

SundayToz is a social mobile games developer based in South Korea. It was founded in 2009, and has since then built a number of social games for key mobile platforms such as KakaoTalk, Google Play, Apple’s AppStore or Naver. It is the studio behind the local hit-game Anipang and its sequel, Anipang 2.

Release Date: 2009
Genre: Puzzle
About the game: Anipang was the first South Korean game to be downloaded 20 million times. It is a puzzle game that is distributed through Cyworld Appstore and Naver Social Apps. It is a match-3 style of game, featuring cute characters like pink piggies, blue dogs and white rabbits. Its life has been speckled with controversy, as the local and mass media accused the developers of stealing other people’s ideas. Lawsuits were thrown around as well. Despite all of this, the game gained global fame.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Adobe Air  PlayHaven 
 Kakao  Upsight 

candypang#4 CandyPang

Android | iOS

Developer: WeMade Entertainment

WeMade Entertainment is a South Korean game development studio with an interesting story. The studio created a 3D MMORPG game called The Legend of Mir, an extremely popular game in the East. It was soon copied by Chinese operator Shanda and released under the name The World of Legend (awesome name, btw </sarcasm>), forcing the original developers into a lawsuit. To make things as clear as possible, they chose the name WeMade, pointing that they had, in fact, made The Legend of Mir game. The studio was founded in 2000 and has since expanded to Seattle, Washington. It even had a professional e-sports team until 2011, competing in Counter-Strike, StarCraft: Brood War and Warcraft III.

Release Date: 2012
Genre: Puzzle
About the game: CandyPang is a puzzle game, very similar to Anipang, and pretty much any other color-matching game. However, instead of switching a tile in order to match three or more, the player need only recognize the tiles which have already lined up and tap on them in order for them to disappear. The game is designed to be played very fast so that a high-score can be achieved.

raven#3 Raven

Android | iOS

Developer: Netmarble Games

Netmarble is one of Korea’s biggest game developers, if not the biggest. It has more than 3,000 employees, working in offices around the world, including the US, Turkey, Japan, China and Indonesia, as well as Taiwan and Thailand. It has a few globally popular titles, such as Raven (EvilBane), MARVEL Future Fight or Everybody’s Marble. It has recently invested $130 million in SGN, a US-based mobile games studio.

Release Date: 2014
Genre: RPG
About the game: Raven is one of South Korea’s most popular games and is often referred to as ‘Korea’s biggest RPG’. Knowing how Koreans are mad about RPG games, this is a big deal. This is a classic RPG game, with multiple races and characters, capable of leveling up and collecting various armor and weapons. It features a couple of modes, including Scenario, Adventure, Raid and Arena. It has been launched globally, under the name EvilBane.

future fight#2 MARVEL Future Fight

Android | iOS

Developer: Netmarble Games
Release Date: 2015
Genre: RPG
About the game: MARVEL Future Fight is an RPG game many people call ‘dungeon crawler’ because of its gameplay. It features basically all Marvel heroes players can control as they battle for the survival of the human race. It features a few different mission types, including Villain Siege, Daily Missions and Story Missions. All these types can earn players new gears, new mastery points and a higher rank.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Tune  GrowMobile 
 Kakao 

summoners#1 Summoners War

Android | iOS

Developer: Com2Us

If there’s just one thing you ought to remember regarding Com2Us is that these guys have managed to trademark ‘Tower Defense’. That’s like trademarking the words ‘Role-playing game’. Obviously, people were not pleased, with some saying this is why TD games usually suck. Aside from that, Com2Us is a fairly large game development studio, whose majority stake was acquired by Gamevil in 2013.

Release Date: 2014
Genre: RPG
About the game: Summoners War is South Korea’s most downloaded and most popular game, with more than 50 million downloads across multiple platforms. It has been praised by the media, with some saying it’s a must-buy, even though it’s a free-to-download game. This is a 3D RPG game with elements resembling very much what we can see in games like Pokemon, in which players duke it out in the Sky Arena. It features more than 900 different types of monsters that can be summoned, as well as a 3-player co-op mode in real-time. It has been localized in 14 different languages, and also offers in-game purchases.
Interesting SDKs: 

 Tune  Chartboost 
 PartyTrack AdPick 

That is our list for the best of the best from the South Korean mobile games market. While searching for the best games, we looked at the most popular and most talked-about game developers, the number of downloads and overall rating their games have across various platforms, as well as any awards they might have won on local or international competitions. Game reviews and opinions from journalists were also taken into consideration.

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  1. […] South Korea is a country of 50.22 million people (last count was in 2013) and, according to OneSkyApp, it has a smartphone penetration of 73%– meaning just slightly over 40 million people have a […]

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