EA preps Korea-exclusive FIFA

Online-only PC version of soccer simulation being developed specifically for the Korean game room market.

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Considering that soccer is the world's sport, it's only fitting that Electronic Arts' latest game of footie is an international effort. Redwood City, California-based EA today announced that its EA Canada development studio is hard at work with Korean publisher Neowiz on an online-only PC version of its FIFA Soccer series.

Neowiz, whose past titles include Special Force and Yogurting, will lend its knowledge of the Korean market to the project. That insight will be especially crucial as EA is developing the game specifically for the Korean game-room market.

The partnership on this project looks to capitalize on the popularity of soccer in the country (Korea co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with Japan), the recent game room phenomenon, and the strength of the FIFA Soccer brand of games, which EA touts as the best-selling sports franchise of all time in Korea.

"Developing an online game that is designed to appeal to Korean gamers' tastes and culture will play an important role as we extend our online business further into Asia," said Jon Niermann, president of EA Asia Publishing in a statement.

But while EA seems to approach the agreement as an opportunity to further boost its Korean operations, Neowiz is looking at it as a way to make its name beyond the country's borders. Neowiz president Sung Kyun Na stated that this FIFA game (currently intended to be exclusive to the Korean market) "will define a new dimension of online games for worldwide audiences in the near future."

While no firm release date has been set, EA expects to have the game up and running in time for the June 9 start of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

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