Top 10 Korean Gaming Companies to Watch For – Best of 2019

Who are the top Korean gaming companies of 2019?  South Koreans love gaming. Over 50% of South Koreans play games on their smartphones.  They have businesses just for people to play computer games (PC Bang). They have esports on TV daily. South Korea was the birthplace of e-sports thanks to Starcraft.  The top South Korean gamers participate in games like Overwatch, FIFA Online, League of Legends, and more.

Koreans also love mobile games.  Currently, mobile gaming is more common in Korea than console gaming or PC gaming.  Furthermore, Korea has over 35 million smartphone users. Therefore there is a high demand for all forms of gaming.  Especially role-playing games were 90% of all mobile gaming revenue came from this genre. All this would lead you to believe that the South Korean gaming industry is stronger than ever.  However, this is not the case.

Korea has an incredible gaming infrastructure, culture, and high penetration. Hopefully despite government regulations more Korean gaming companies will succeed and take advantage of the opportunity in the Korean gaming market.  

Here is our list of the top 10 Korean gaming companies of 2019

1.Nexon Korea

Korean Gaming Company Nexon

There is a huge bidding war that is about to take place.   Billionaire Jungju Kim is going to sell 98.64% stake in NXC, which is the holding company that owns 48% of Nexon.  Nexon, founded in 1994, is now the biggest gaming company in South Korea. The deal could be a $16 billion deal the biggest deal for a gaming company.  The bidders will be Tencent, Kakao, Bain Capital, and MBK Partners. The favorite to win the bid is Tencent because it owns the exclusive China license for Dungeon Fighter (DNF).  DNF is Nexon’s most successful game.

2.  Netmarble

Netmarble Korean Gaming

Netmarble has had a lot of success overseas.  In addition, some of their successful releases include Lineage 2, Marvel Future Fight, and Cooke Jam, just to name a few.  Netmarble averages annual sales of just under $2 billion. Their 2019 lineup includes games such as Seven Knights 2, The King of Fighters All-Star, and A3: Still Alive.  Many K-pop fans are looking forward to BTS World which will be released in 2019.

3.  NCSOFT

Korean Gaming Company NCSoft

NCSoft is the Korean gaming company behind the hit game Lineage 2 and Guild Wars 2.  The company had a terrible 2018. Sales held steady but their 4th quarter saw a loss in profits.  Most of their profits are coming from the mobile gaming sector. However, the good news for NCSOFT is that their main games Lineage and Guild Wars continue to hold strong.

4.  Smilegate

Smilegate Korean Gaming Company

Smilegate RPG is the subsidiary of South Korean gaming company Smilegate.  They are looking to do their IPO sometime in 2020. In 2019 they will come up with the companies valuation.  Their top game is their PC game Lost Ark. Lost Ark is a multiplayer online role-playing game that was launched in 2018.  The game was in development for 7 years with a budget of a little over $88 million. It is currently the 5th most played game in PC bangs in Korea.

5.  Gamevil Com2us

Gamevil and Com2us Korean Gaming

Gamevil, founded in 2000, went public in 2009 on Kosdaq.  They merged with Com2us and in 2013 was renamed Gamevil Com2us.  However, in Korea, the two companies are separately operated. Gamevil has over 500 million mobile downloads. Com2us is known mainly for its hit game Summoners War. The game generated over $1 Billion in revenue since 2014.  The success of their latest game Talion will be their main focus for 2019. Tailon will enter the US and UK in the first half of 2019. However, the game has not yet launched in Korea.

6.  Pearl Abyss

Pearl Abyss Korean Gaming

Pearl Abyss, founded in 2010, is best known for their open-world MMORPG Black Desert Online.  The game alone has generated over $1 billion in gross sales in four years. The game has over 10 million users from 150 countries. Furthermore, it is played in 12 different languages.   Their release of Black Desert Mobile was also a big hit and the company is growing by double every year. They recently bought Iceland-based CCP Eve Online for $425 million.  Their expansion into the US will now be easier due to this acquisition. No changes will come to the game which is great news for CCP fans.

7.  NEOWIZ

Korean Gaming Neowiz

Neowiz, founded in 2007, is the operator of a popular Korean games portal called Pmang.  They offer many games through this portal and have acquired many gaming developers. They have a partnership with EA to enter the Japanese gaming market.  Neowiz is the subsidiary of Neowiz Holdings. Some of their top games include Tapsonic World Champion, Muse Maker, Jump Arena, and Larva Match just to name a few.  Their top game is their large-scale MMORPG game Bless.

8.  Webzen

Korean Gaming Webzen

Webzen is a Korean gaming company that focuses on PC and mobile gaming.  They are best known for their MU series. Webzen has over 600 employees that help operate their global games portal Webzen.com.  In 2019 they will focus on MU Origin 2, QubeTown and other mobile games for the global market. MU Origin 2 has gained a massive following in China.  Webzen has offices in Dublin, Los Angeles, and Japan.

9.  WeMade Entertainment

We Made Entertainment

WeMade Entertainment is a Korean gaming company. They are responsible for the hit game FishingStrike, which was developed by their affiliate company WeMade Plus.  They recently got the IP rights to Legend of Mir 2 and will look to continue to push it along with Icarus M.

10.  EyeDentity Entertainment

Eyedentity Entertainment

Eyedentity Entertainment is the makers of the popular action MMORPG game Dragon Nest.  They have their esports business brand called World Esports Games & Leagues. They plan to host four different types of esports events throughout the year.  These leagues will strengthen the connection between the Chinese and Korean gaming communities.