Korean MMOs big in Japan

Two of Japan's top three online games are from Korea; even the biggest American games fail to crack that list.

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There's plenty of evidence that massively multiplayer online games are big in Korea, but it appears Korean MMOGs are catching on in other parts of the world as well.

Japanese Web site RBB Today reports that a recent study found that two of the three most popular online games in Japan--Ragnarok Online and Sukatto Golf Pangya--are Korean in origin. US games--even the blockbuster World of Warcarft--are conspicuously absent from the list, as the third spot went to a domestic effort, Square Enix's Final Fantasy XI.

The study also found that Final Fantasy XI and its Korean competition boast extremely high retention rates in Japan. According to the findings, 27 percent of players who ever picked up Ragnarok Online are still playing it, while Final Fantasy XI and Sukatto Golf Pangya are even stronger, with retention rates of 58 percent and 56 percent respectively.

Readers may remember that Sukatto Golf Pangya is also under development for the Revolution, reinforcing Nintendo's claims of a stronger commitment to online gaming for its next-gen console. PC gaming is still a relatively small niche in Japan, so a console port will have a much larger potential audience to tap for customers.

RBB's article was based on preliminary results from an online gaming study by Media Create, a market research firm focusing on the Japanese game industry. Media Create will release the full study, titled "Online Gaming White Paper 2006," on April 21.

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