December 19, 2016

Fact-finding trip to China and South Korea

Marie Haagensen
 

In June, a delegation from the Game Hub Scandinavia incubators, accompanied by two researchers from the University of Skövde, visited Shanghai in China and Seoul in South Korea on a mission to conduct initial fact-finding and establish the project’s network in the two countries.

By Mikkel Fledelius Jensen, Project Manager at Game Hub Denmark

A central activity in the Game Hub Scandinavia project is to investigate some of the markets that Scandinavian game developers usually do not consider when designing and producing a game. Often, game developers from our region, and the Western world in general, tend to focus on developing games for the market they know: their own.

When designing the activities for our project, we therefore decided to investigate foreign markets to find out how they work, what kind of games that are in demand, what the most prominent distribution channels are, and how to work with key actors on the respective markets, such as publishers and investors. We wanted to focus on countries that already have well-established markets for games and more specifically, we wanted to investigate the largest Asian markets. Thus, we decided to specifically target India and China – and, after the initial research in the project was conducted, we also added South Korea.

In June, a delegation from the Game Hub Scandinavia incubators, accompanied by two researchers from the University of Skövde, visited Shanghai in China and Seoul in South Korea on a mission to conduct initial fact-finding and establish the project’s network in the two countries. We collaborated with the Danish Foreign Ministry’s Innovation Centres to help us identify relevant actors and to set up meetings in the two cities. We also benefited from the Skövde-based Chinese researcher Jianghou Ding’s network in Shanghai.

The scope of the Chinese market

In Shanghai, the delegation met a number of relevant actors representing game educations, publishers, investors, companies, and incubators. One of the takeaways is that everything is bigger than what we are used to in Scandinavia; which especially became apparent after a visit to the city’s major incubator, Shanghai City Gaming Incubator. No less than around 1.000 companies have been established as part of their incubation program, out of which 20 have gone public. On top of this, the incubator has access to a public investment fund of up to 400 million euros – very different numbers from what we are used to in Scandinavia. This also helps to underline the scope of the Chinese market for games. In the incubator, we also met with Michael Zhu, Vice President of one of China’s major game studios, Shanda Interactive. Mr. Zhu invited us to visit his company, and he has since visited Sweden to give a presentation about the Chinese game market as part of the Game Hub Scandinavia track at the Sweden Game Conference in Skövde.

In Seoul, we had meetings with similar actors. Most notably, we had very interesting meeting with KakaoTalk Game Division, the major South Korean distribution platform for mobile games, and the Gyeonggi Center for Creative Economy & Innovation (GCCEI), a Korean acceleration programme for talented game developers. We also met with Global Top Round, a Seoul based game accelerator that offers its programme to start-ups worldwide. The latter has since paid the Game Hub Denmark Incubator in Grenaa a visit. KakaoTalk Game Division has also visited Denmark as a result of our initial meeting in Seoul. Representatives from the project have furthermore had a follow-up meeting with GCCEI at GamesCom in Germany since returning from Asia to discuss how to further collaborate.

Future collaborations

In conclusion, we have established our initial networks in both China and South Korea, and we are currently in the process of drafting a Memorandum of Understanding with our Shanghai network. We have also planned our next visit to China where we will explore how Scandinavian game developers from our incubators can best collaborate with Chinese developers, as well as publishers and investors, in order to bring more Danish and Swedish games to the market in China.

Mobile games are still king in China, despite a relatively large part of the overall revenue coming from PC games. The same goes for South Korea, even if games developed for e-sport are very popular on the Korean market. Therefore, we will in the coming months send examples of primarily mobile games, and/or games that can potentially be transferred to handheld platforms, to our Asian network. At the same time, we will progress a framework that makes joint development between Scandinavian and Asian game developers more realistic.

We will, of course, keep you posted on our progress in the coming Game Hub Scandinavia newsletters.