Just the mention of South Korea conjures up images of net cafes and online gaming. The country is one of online gaming's passionate players. Something that was proven once again over the weekend when Korea played host to G-Star, South Korea's biggest online gaming expo.
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Unlike Japan, South Korea has been predominately a PC gaming country. One of the major reasons for the lack of game console penetration was due to protectionism that made it difficult, if not impossible for Japanese companies to sell their wares in Korea—and vice versa.
The cultures are changing. Japan is opening itself up to Korean products, slowly. Ditto for South Korea. Nintendo now releases localized versions of games and hardware. However, the relationship that Korean gamers traditionally have with gaming is through the PC. And the game of choice is traditionally StarCraft.
Another reason for the popularity of online games in South Korea is country's lightning fast internet. South Korea already boasts the world's fastest internet, and, according to the New York Times, the government aims to connect every home at one gigabit per second in 2012.
There is, of course, a huge pro-gaming community in the country as well. (Take a virtual seat at a Korean StarCraft tournament!)
Online PC gaming is so popular in Korea that many Japanese developers release MMO versions of popular console games—take Ghost 'N Goblins, for example. Konami even roped in South Korea's NHN to make an online version of Winning Eleven (aka Pro Evo), showing off the game at G-Star.
At this year's G-Star, a whole slew of online games were shown. New titles, such as Lineage Eternal were announced, while Western-developed titles, such as Firefall were front-and-center, next to home-grown Korean games. There were also many Facebook and smartphone games on display.
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