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Game console market rebounds

December 12, 2013
Sony's the Playstation 4 (Yonhap)

Sony’s the Playstation 4 (Yonhap)

By Chung Hyun-chae

The Korean video game console market is expected to improve after major players Sony and Microsoft successively released new products in a number of countries.

Sony launched PlayStation4 (PS4) on Nov. 15, seven years after launching PS3, and Microsoft launched Xbox One on Nov. 22, eight years following the launch of Xbox 360.

According to foreign news reports, about 1 million Xbox One units were sold in one day across 13 countries. PS4 was even more successful, selling 1 million in one day in the U.S. and Canada alone, according to a Business Insider news article.

The video game console market has been in trouble for the past few years owing to an increasing number of strong players in the online and mobile gaming businesses. In fact, it had been sidelined in Korea in the past few years except briefly during 2010­2011 when Nintendo Wii was the most popular game here.

Video game consoles accounted for only 1.6 percent of the local gaming market in 2012. Since 2010, its market growth has been decreasing, contracting by 40.1 percent to 268.4 billion won in 2012, the biggest fall in the recent five years.

This drop is partly due to Korean player’s competitiveness and preference for visible, immediate achievements. This is also partly why online gaming accounts for nearly 70 percent of the market share in the local gaming industry.

The Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) is very upbeat about the market prospect by next year, bolstered by Sony’s and Microsoft’s launch of new products.

“From a somewhat conservative view, we expect the market to be at 5.6 percent in 2013 and quickly rebound from 2014. Even with this cautious outlook, we predict the video game console market to reach up to 290.3 billion won in 2015,” said Song Joseph, deputy manager at the KOCCA.

In the game console market it takes more time and money to develop and release new products, compared to the mobile gaming industry. However, this is why market watchers view the former as an important growth engine.

“Console gamers are loyal, so many of them are just waiting for the new gadgets and do not care much for other kinds of games,” said an official at Xbox One who declined to be named.

In addition, both Sony and Microsoft are willing to invest more into online services.

“Although they already provide online services with their previous products, strengthening their online networking will allow them to expand their market share,” said Song.

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