South Korean game firms eyeing UK 'assault'

South Korea, home to the world's most sophisticated online games, is preparing an assault on Europe, North America, and Japan, setting the stage for an international scrum in an industry poised to nearly triple in value in the coming years, according to a Reuters report.

The Reuters report said South Korea only recently began allowing sales of video game consoles that were very popular in Japan and the West.

As a result, all of the country's gaming efforts had gone into online games that offered open-ended stories set in virtual universes that could support tens of thousands of players, the report said.

The report said that with domestic growth opportunities crimped by a relatively small and saturated market, South Korea's leading game makers, NCsoft and Webzen, were looking abroad.

NCsoft was already a contender in wealthy and comparatively red-tape-free Western markets with massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) titles, but it had yet to have a cross-over hit with a homegrown game, the report said.

The global market for online game subscriptions, downloads and advertising is forecast to grow to $13 billion in 2011 from $3.4 billion in 2005, according to research firm DFC Intelligence.