By Jun Ji-hye
Korean game companies will continue to suffer difficulties in exporting their products to China next year as the government there is not expected to resume issuing permits for games anytime soon, according to a research report, Friday.
Wi Jong-hyun, a professor at Chung-Ang University and the head of the Korea Game Society, said in the report that Beijing has been carrying out a game quota system, adding it will continue to put priority on Chinese games in issuing permits over foreign ones.
"Even if the Chinese government resumes issuing permits for Korean games, the number will be very limited," he said.
Exports of Korean games to China have been blocked since March last year when the Chinese government suspended issuing permits as part of the country's protest of Korea's deployment of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.
President Moon Jae-in's visit to China last December raised expectations that Beijing would resume giving out permits as at the time some officials of game companies were included in an economic delegation accompanying him.
But no Korean games have obtained a permit since March.
China is the top game market in the world ― the scale of online and mobile games in 2017 was estimated to be about $29 billion, according to market researcher Euromonitor International.
About 10 Korean game firms have applied to Beijing for permits.
Netmarble Games applied for "Lineage 2: Revolution" in December 2016, while NCSOFT did so for "Lineage Red Knights" in January 2017.
Bluehole is also waiting for a permit for "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" that was a huge hit on the global game market last year.
Professor Wi claimed that the THAAD issue was not affecting cultural relations between Korea and China so much these days, saying Beijing appeared to be taking a more flexible attitude on exchanges between the two countries.
But Beijing is still holding back on Korean games as they have been hugely popular on the Chinese market in the past, Wi said.
"Korean game firms need to utilize an esports area as an indirect method to enter the Chinese market," he said. "They need to nurture esports based on wholesome games with less violent and sexually suggestive content."