South Korea's President Wants to Take on Nintendo

February 6, 2009 -

Lee Myung-bak (left), President of South Korea, wonders why his nation can't build video game hardware to compete with Nintendo. During a visit to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy this week, Lee said:

A lot of our elementary school children have Nintendo game machines. Why can't our companies develop products like that?

Lee's comment sparked derision from Korean game industry types, reports the Korea Times. Park Sang-hoon, an exec with GamePark, maker of the Linux-based GP2X handheld, said:

The lack of [game] content is evident, as we don't have many companies here with the personnel and financial capability to develop games, and the open-source model is our best bet for the short term.

It would be great if the software industry here was healthy enough to produce a lot of games, which would drive up the sales of handheld consoles and introduce more products onto the market. However, as a latecomer, we have the difficulty of proving our products first and securing third parties later.

An unnamed mobile games developer added:

Talking about Nintendo is out of touch, when you consider that the local software market is virtually on life-support. Piracy and lack of quality personnel has killed the vibrancy of the Korean software market, and I wonder whether the government has ever been serious about fostering the country's software industry. It's telling that most of the computers at government agencies rely on pirated software.

Another exec also slammed Lee's government:

You don't have the right to be daydreaming about Nintendo, when Korean online game firms, which are actually doing well overseas, feel they could do better if the government wasn't biting at their ankles.


Comments

Re: South Korea's President Wants to Take on Nintendo

Well they certainly have the industrial capacity for producing a console.

Do they have any in country chip companies?

Re: South Korea's President Wants to Take on Nintendo

South Korea can have their own videogame console manufacturer, but I don't see the government getting involved because they said that the Wii and the DS was a "Nintendo Machine" and that they said that every kid has one.

 

But I would like to ask, how do they know if every kid has a Wii or a DS?

I think that in the world of Business especilly in the Videogame Industry, you need to know your facts to be able to comprehend how you could ever manage to survive in the market.

Or else they would go like Atari, Commodore, SEGA and many others before them.

TBoneTony

Re: South Korea's President Wants to Take on Nintendo

Stuffed suits of all nationalities seem to think that making games is just a matter of manpower and budget. You need the touch, the spark, in what makes a good game. Otherwise you will just make shovelware. You throw a big budget, lots of manpower, and lots of PR... and all you will get is something like Haze. When you have the spark, you can make something like Mario Kart DS. Not super high end graphics. Not cutting edge technology. But everyone loves it and keeps buying it.

That's the difference between suits wanting to make a game, and someone who makes a game.

Re: South Korea's President Wants to Take on Nintendo

Well said man,

 

you need great games to make a great console, and then you need people buying those great games to make great sales. but that can only come with great games in the first place that people will be willing to buy.

 

TBoneTony

Re: South Korea's President Wants to Take on Nintendo

Actually talk to former Haze devs and they'll tell you they wanted an extra year to fix things since giving up on the project was no longer an option (Ubisoft was insistant that Haze will be finished).  But Ubisoft wanted it out by a set date and Free Radical really had no choice.  However, to say the studio itself sucks means you've basically just bashed Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Timesplitters series, and Second Sight.  And considering the footage that was recently leaked on Star Wars Battlefront III proves Haze was nothing more than the one turd every company has to put out eventually.  To use Nintendo as your example, 10 Yard Fight.  Defend that if you can.  People act like Nintendo was just always good at games.  They took just as long as everyone else to refine their craft.

But you do have a point on one part.  What you need is a team with a singular vision and enough excitement to bring that vision to life.  While Korean MMOs are literally ravaging the landscape, look towards the recent Shin Megami Tensei MMO.  High quality on rival with the most recent PS2 releases, free to play, extremely popular, and an all around good kid.  That company had the spark.  Look at the DJ Max Portable series which continues to be a cult favorite among the music game fans.  I could go on but really, why bother?  New IPs to new markets is a tough nut to crack that even Nintendo fails on from time to time.  In this industry, it's more about luck than quality.

Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

Re: South Korea's President Wants to Take on Nintendo

Actually, that almost proves my point. It was the suits that screwed up the game. I didn't mean to make a distiction between developer and publisher, I meant that to take a game to market well, you have to let the people who care about it make the descisions. There also has to be talented people. Nintendo is in a good position because for a lot of their games, they are both the developer and the publisher. That means they have the capability to "upset the tea table". The Haze people didn't want to ship it that early (from what you said), but the suits said "We don't care, we want our money."

I'm sure there are better ways of putting this, but I call this the "Black Box mentality" (from back when I sold computers). There are a large percentage of consumers who don't understand the difference between computers. To them, a computer is a computer, so it didn't matter that this one was made in China and sells for $299, and that one was custom made in store with top of the line components and was $1,299. They were both boxes called computers, so you took the cheapest one.

It is the same way with the games. Suits don't play games. To them, the first weeks sale is where they make the most money. And first weeks sales are mostly about marketting, not quality. So they push the game to market as quickly as possible, and then take the money and run. If the game doesn't live up to the hype, they see that as not their fault, it's the developers fault for not making a better game. They almost see it as a slot machine. They put in their money and pull the handle. To them, what comes out is just about random. The way they figure they can make money is to pull the handle as often as possible.

Other companies, like Nintendo, are mostly interested in making the best game, even if it has to be started over and delayed saveral times. When they come out, they dominate the market for some time to come, what the industry calls "long tails". This is where they get their money. Maybe it doesn't have to do so much with "vision" (although it could). Perhaps it's because they see the WHOLE process, they understand it isn't a slot machine, and they see that what they put in effects what comes out. Kind of like if you understood that a quarter put into a slot machine with the head facing left and turned to a 24 degree angle and the third night after a full moon, would always land you the jackpot. You may only play once a month, but you would hit the jackpot every time. They understand that to make their money, they need to put out a quality product to make the money and they let their programmers have the time to make them.

(P.S.: I'm neither saying that every Nintendo game is good, or that no one else but Nintendo makes good games. Only that your chances of hitting a jackpot seem to be higher. If this is indeed true... Duke Nukem Forever will be so awesome it will melt your face!)

Re: South Korea's President Wants to Take on Nintendo

Your country can not do it because you suck.  Okay, next question.... (The other executive guy is backing me up here. Telling him to quit day dreaming.  You have to be able to walk before you can run buddy.)

Nido Web Flash Tutorials AS2 and AS3 Tutorials for anyone interested.
How to set Xbox 360 Parental Controls

Nido Web Flash Tutorials AS2 and AS3 Tutorials for anyone interested.
How to set Xbox 360 Parental Controls

Re: South Korea's President Wants to Take on Nintendo

Lots of Korean companies could produce the console.  I'll bet there are quite a few countries without such an electronics infrastructure that could as well. 

Producing the hardware is not the difficult part.  Once you make it you have to sell it. 

A modern console will have to sell tens of millions of units to be a success.  You need to get a lot of sales in the opening months, otherwise devlopers aren't going to develop for the console any more and with no software, you get no buyers.  Established players can use their reptation and existing customers to ceate the initial buzz. 

Microsoft were a late entry into the video games market.  They have managed to make the XBox a success, but to do so they have to sink billions into promoting their console.  Not many companies want to do that when they have a perfectly comfortable business selling components for microwave ovens and DVD players. 

Re: South Korea's President Wants to Take on Nintendo

It is an uphill struggle for upstarts and business veterans alike. Newcomers lack the money and experience, and entertainment moguls currently enjoy a stake in a different market and conformed to stay there, unless they have the money to be a multi-business congolmerate. Switching to game consoles would mean a big restructuring of their company.

It was speculated that even EA wouldn't be able to produce a successful console if they tried. And they currently enjoy about 25% of the video game market share, so no doubt they're not going to risk losing profits if they go into a drastically different direction. They're the type of company to put most of their eggs in one basket if they are good at it.

I'd say Virgin is financially capable to enter the game console market. They've expanded in a ridiculous amount of industries.

GameSnooper

Re: South Korea's President Wants to Take on Nintendo

Or instead of bleeding billions of dollars in marketing cost trying to jump right into the most saturated markets in the world, you could do what these guys are doing:

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=21711

Releasing a new console concept to a largely untapped gaming market. Then if you find success there, expand to other markets. This helps keep costs down during the initial phases of introducing a new console brand.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

 
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