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"The trip was very interesting, and definitely expanded my horizons," said Egon Lauppert. The director of the Austrian game studio egon.cx – interactive media was one of the ten participants who visited South Korea for the exploratory marketing trip by the name of Korean Gaming and Beyond. From November 5 to 11, the group visited South Korean game and technology companies, attended networking events and product presentations, and had a party. The highlight was a visit to the G-Star, one of the largest gaming fairs in Asia. It featured an Austria stand that presented the local game market to visitors.
Large market and springboard to China
"South Korea accounts for close to six percent of the worldwide gaming market. And one fourth of the market for online games," said the economic delegate Michael Otter, explaining the attraction of the Korean market. According to a current report the industry achieved growth of 18.5 percent in 2011, with the greatest expansion in the mobile sector. In contrast, the browser game segment is stagnating at a high level. The Korean market has a high level of exports and is also a springboard to China, Japan and other Southeast Asian countries for many companies.
Austria meets South Korea
A total of seven Austrian game studios took part in the Go International trip that was arranged and funded by the Federal Ministry of the Economy, Family and Youth and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber: Clockstone Studios, DonkeyCat, Mipumi Games, Sproing, Rarebyte, Still Alive Studios and Egon.CX presented their games and gathered information about the Asian market. They visited companies like Incross, LG Electronics, NHN, Neowhiz, Gamevil and Com2Us, and met with a law firm to discuss issues like licensing.
Austria`s games popular
Clockstone, for example, used the trip to meet with Incross. In South Korea, the company sells the game Bridge Constructor – which has generated interest from other publishers. Mipumi presented the new game Cute Kingdom, which offers a novel combined mobile and browser platform.
"Cute Kingdom was well received on the Asian market. We are now working on the feedback from our internal test phase," said Gregor Eigner. The head of the company also said that he had talks with potential partners. "The trip helped us a great deal with a possible expansion onto the Asian market," summarized Eigner.
The startup Still Alive Studios presented its Sons of Nor project to potential partners, while egon.CX held talks about serious and educational games. "There was definite interest in our products. But only time will tell if something concrete develops," company director Egon Lauppert said. He was surprised to see the significant differences between the South Korean and European gaming markets, and that other genres are more popular. "They are more into fantasy and multiplayer online role playing games," said Lauppert. It was interesting to see that Android clearly dominates over iOS, he said.
Sproing, Rarebyte and the startup DonkeyCat used the trip to gauge the market and make contacts, and they were all successful. "I got to know a lot of new people, both in South Korea and colleagues from Austria," said Peter Wutzl, head of business development at Sproing. During the trip, he presented games like Skyrama, Silent Hunter Online and Asterix, and many were received with great interest. The trip participants from Austria also exchanged information and many ideas about the industry, the market and ongoing projects. "It was a learning experience, and I gained a lot. I can only recommend this to anyone," said Wutzl.
During this year`s trip, the education sector was also represented for the first time by Alexander Hofmann from UAS Technikum Wien. Cooperation talks were held with the Department of Game Engineering at Hoseo University, one of the oldest gaming programs in South Korea. In addition to an exchange of information, possible internships were also discussed. An agreement was recently signed between Austria and South Korea on a working holiday visa that would allow a six-month stay.
Games from Austria well known
"The meetings and talks this year were more concrete. South Korean companies are now familiar with the Austrian gaming market," said Michael Otter. The foreign trade delegate organized the exploratory trip for the second time, after the first trip in 2011. The program was changed slightly on the basis of the feedback from last year`s participants. "We arranged the appointments with the companies in Seoul before the visit to the fair this time. This gave us a key advantage over companies from other countries in Europe," explained Otter. While firms from Germany had to make their first contacts at the fair, Austrian companies were already known and integrated thanks to the networking events.
Next trip already scheduled for 2013
Because of the positive responses from the Austrian participants and the South Korean companies, the gaming trip will be offered again in 2013. "We will definitely have another exploratory trip. Austrian studios have already signed up," said Otter. The fair presence will be larger in the coming year to give local companies more space for their talks and negotiations.
Austria as a European location
A pleasing side effect of the event is that South Korean companies are now more aware of Austria as a business location. "Many companies are looking for sites in Europe, and Austria is becoming more and more attractive for this," said Otter. Companies like Neowhiz are now assessing Austria as a location from which to supply Europe.