Even though South Korea steals the show with their electronics, they also make a profound impact on the gaming industry. In this thriving Asian nation, video games are hailed as a social sport. Some of the biggest professional video game teams come from South Korea, with millions of dollars awarded at tournaments. Thanks to an increase in mobile gaming, revenue generated from video games exceeded $2.389 billion in 2018. Ever since 2008, the industry is enjoying an average growth of 14.9% in sales per year. This staggering progress ensures more games are released that cater exclusively to Koreans.
Fueled by incessant demand, many Korean video game developers have created blockbuster releases. On top of dominating the local market, these games managed to transcend expectations and become international hits. The impact of these releases can’t be denied, since many of them changed the industry. By highlighting the success of competitive video games, Korean developers revolutionized the social aspect of the industry. To this day, professional StarCraft tournaments based in Korea continue to attract millions of viewers throughout Asia.
When it comes to gaming, Korea is much more than simply a developed market. They are a leader in gaming around the world, and have pioneered multiple aspects of the industry. To truly understand Korea’s impact, examining their most successful releases is essential. For this reason, we compiled a list of the most popular Korean video games. The effect that these games had is absolutely groundbreaking, so prepare to be impressed by this list!
Top Korean Video Games of All-Time
Video Game #1: Lineage – When this release debuted in 1998, it became the first Korean video game to gain international popularity. This massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) boasted a medieval fantasy theme that proved to be wildly contagious. At the time its 2D isometric-overhead graphics blew players away. Lineage immediately gained millions of subscribers in Korea and Taiwan. The wild success of the game led to it getting released in the U.S., which helped pioneer Korean games in North America.
While it was published by the South Korean developer NCsoft, the mastermind behind its creation was Jake Song. This talented designer created the first MMORPG game to become wildly popular in Korea, Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds. While his first creation inspired a new wave of Korean gamers, Lineage successfully captured the world’s attention. This release was pivotal for the Korean gaming industry, since it showcased the power of this previously untapped market.
Video Game #2: Ragnarok Online – In 2011, another blockbuster release from Korea captured the world’s attention. Inspired by the Lee Myung-jin’s comic book series, Korean developer Gravity created Ragnarok Online. This MMORPG allowed players to work together in an environment that gradually changed over time. While it failed to gain traction in America, this game took Asia by storm. Ragnarok received 25 million subscribers and gained enough popularity to spawn an animated series and sequel. The series is still revered throughout Asia, and further solidified South Korea’s place as an established video game production hub.
Video Game #3: Lineage II – This highly anticipated prequel managed to exceed everyone’s expectations. Set 150 years before the previous game, Lineage II provided an intimate look at the fantasy world that players had grown to love. When it released in 2003, it instantly became a hit. To date it has attracted over 14 million users that are mostly based in Asia. This epic released cemented the franchise as the most successful Korean video game series ever made. In total the franchise has earned over $1.8 billion and been played by over 43 million users.