Dbros Looks for Social Games to Publish in South Korea

Western game developers have often held South Korea up as an example of an advanced market that they can only seek to catch up with. But a local company, Dbros, think that there’s room for Western social games to succeed in Korea.

Dbros is banking on the continuing growth of Facebook in its home country. Since July, when we first wrote about South Korea’s growing Facebook presence, it has burst upward from 1.1 million monthly active users to its current 1.7 million MAU. While Facebook is still only a tenth the size of Cyworld, South Korea’s biggest social network, Facebook can also claim Korea as its second-fastest growing market over the past 12 months.

The vital difference between Cyworld and Facebook is that the concept of gaming is built into the latter. Casual MMOs may have big audiences in South Korea, but significant games typically have their own websites. “Cyworld didn’t really have the concept of games in it until earlier this year,” says Jay Kim, a manager at Dbros. “At this point, Facebook is the ultimate platform for social games.”

Rather than developing its own games for Facebook, Dbros wants to localize existing, successful games.

There are several factors to consider when localizing any game: the translation into the native language should be carefully completed, and local billing methods need to be accounted for. Dbros says there are two more factors specific to Korea, though.

One is customer service. While social gamers in the United States and elsewhere are used to not having any personal communication from the developer, Korean users expect strong customer support, according to Kim and Dbros director Chris Hwang.

The company also has an unusual plan for customer acquisition: advertising off of Facebook, on the web and in print media. “Since we see a lot of potential for Facebook user numbers to grow, we’re focusing on marketing activities toward people who aren’t already on Facebook,” says Kim. Part of the campaign will be letting Koreans know that Facebook is about gaming as well as social networking.

Korean users haven’t played social games before, so Dbros can’t predict exactly what the reward for its efforts will be. The data the company does have on play times and monetization comes from casual MMOs, where play times range from 30 minutes to an hour and ARPPU from $8 to $10 dollars. It estimates the entire Korean game market at $5 billion.

Dbros’ first partner in Korea is Metrogames, which is offering up its biggest game, Fashion World.

For more stats and demographics on over 160 Facebook’s country markets, check out Inside Facebook Gold.