Korea is the first country to boast a professional online gaming industry and there are [infrequent] stories of gamers dying at PC rooms, having spent days in their seats without sleep, surviving on coffee and instant noodles. It is perhaps unsurprising that the government took action to address the national obsession with online gaming and in May 2011 introduced regulation banning under 16s from pc gaming after midnight.
Yesterday, Korea voted in its first female president and she has already indicated that the existing gaming curfew could be extended to include mobile games, one of Korea’s fastest growing industries. The 66M-strong user base of Korean social messaging platform, Kakao Talk, rapidly adopted their social gaming solution this autumn and things were looking very rosy for the industry, until the president’s office made the announcement, on the dawn of new president Park’s era.
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has until May 2013 to decide if the existing Shut Down Policy is to be extended to mobile, but the fallout has already hit, with shares in popular game company, GameVille, tumbling over 14% in a single day and shares in almost all other gaming companies also falling dramatically. This comes fast on the heels of NCSoft’s announcement that 30% of its staff face a corporate cull resulting from over-zealous recruiting earlier in the year.
Korean entrepreneurs had hoped that the new administration would follow up on its pledge to support SMEs, so this news is a bitter pill for the gaming industry, less than 24 hours after the election result.
For full details of the share price collapses, see the table below.