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.


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.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Avatar image for flash786

1 more thing on the question of r02 its alredy there as an expantion u see its called ragnarok rebirth it has more charecters and more items and monsters it was launched after the juno patch

Avatar image for flash786

i have played ragnarok online its gr8 game forget japan even in india its huge its the most popular online game in india ppl pay like 100 dollars for this game

Avatar image for theunwn

Japanese gamers like cute character..............any game that has these will most probably be a hit there but the north american market is completely different...........its not a question of racism

Avatar image for LikwidX3

Ragnarok Online > WoW so just imagine how awesome RO2 is gonna be.

Avatar image for spot123

Hey, don't knock Albatross18, it's $14.95 less per month than your precious WoW and has smaller patches, for one thing. Besides - not everyone gets hooked on games like WoW, or don't have the cash to commit to something like that.

Avatar image for poofly02

Koreans are the best online game makers in the world, i hear about their cool online games even down here in New Zealand, and this primitive country lives off farming sheep and crop. I've seen the coolest, most neatest games which you can socialise with your friends in mulitiple levels like MMO golf games pangya (known as albatross 18 in America). And such games are FREE to play! The players may pay only if they want to, great! As more people get interested in the game, enjoy the gameplay, they will naturally pay for the enterntainment, and thats how Online games should be operated. They even have MMO racing games, MMO fighting games like Gemfighters (<< LINK REMOVED >>) which is like MMO tekken + Final fantasy + Ragnarok. you go around fighting like tekken in your cool FF character with the awesome storyline, gamplay and player to player social interactions of ragnarok! MMO tank battle games which work like worms www.fortress.co.nz. Wonder why they're the best in the business, and they can't help it but grow, develop and flourish even more with each success. Bless them.

Avatar image for poofly02

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for herman

I'm not sure about Japan but I know Korean players are really into grinding, so WOW might be too easy for them... Also the "cartoonlish" style of WOW might also be one of the reasons. EQ2 actually re-designed all its characters for the asian market.

Avatar image for Mokosomo

And I cant believe this is related to western racialsim....(I mean you did blow up a bunch of their people...) Plus, Korea and Japan, although bitter enemies, share similar interests.

Avatar image for Mokosomo

YEAH!!!! GO KOREA! DAE HAN MIN GUK! (it's cool to be proud of something worth being proud off)

Avatar image for singhapan

funny how the american people never heard of Ragnarok and Pangya. in thailand and other asian countries, people obesses with them. Korea online game is everywhere in asia country because it cheap and require only lower-end pc to play. internet connection here is too slow, we can't play WoW and i don't think 20% of computer here can play oblivion. what's hot in asia is unknown to US while what hot in US is so not cool here.

Avatar image for Binpo

i still play ragnarok online

Avatar image for ROCKINGFOOL

super mario world online that sounds cool eating mushroom with my buddies lol

Avatar image for darcybaston

Graphical MUDs rule. ;)

Avatar image for fluffebunnie

MMOs make baby Jesus cry. Stop the MMOs! Please! It's a nightmare we can't wake up from!

Avatar image for Kravyn81

To be accepted in Japan is no easy feat, right, MS? :lol:

Avatar image for rbranma

haha! Ragnarok Online RULETZ; Indeed,an awesome game!I am still playing it,its really something very special,so i can understand japanese players a bit XD

Avatar image for Fallout_red

I hate MMOs. Singleplayer rules... OBLIVION is the best.

Avatar image for qiwihead

Wait, has WoW even been released in Japan? If not, pointing out that WoW isn't even on their bestseller list is clearly pointless.

Avatar image for ufopuller

Great - send a few our way

Avatar image for Fuoeh

Great!! Nice to hear!! Never heard of those games, though!

Avatar image for rokkuman09

The koreans are taking over the WORLD!! AHH!!!

Avatar image for LordAndrew

Sukatto Golf Pangya is an MMO? And it's one of the most popular in Japan? Weird.

Avatar image for winterblink

They're not "anti-american" as some have suggested. They don't HAVE to buy the games made in north america at all. Truth is, there's many reasons why our games don't sell well there. Asian gamers are used to specific styles of RPGs and MMOs, and it's a point of preference, not lack of options. Asian MMO players typically like to find out all the little tricks and tweaks to team play and the leveling system, to find the best stuff and to get the best characters. Ragnarok and FFXI reward patient, relentless grinding and teamwork, and that's something most westerners don't appreciate. Again, don't bash them for not buying World of Warcraft. I'm pretty sure most WoW players don't have Ragnarok Online installed either.

Avatar image for Drachman


Avatar image for faridmon

any way, what is the big deal with MMORPGs?, imean why is everyone paying 12 $ a month to play on game, phantasy star online I &II for the Gamcube was graet but quit playing it after 2 month.

Avatar image for chrisdojo

LOL a golf MMO....

Avatar image for mpeg3s

MS buy these Koreans now!

Avatar image for superkoolstud

Swordmasterv whats the name? I need to see it for myself.

Avatar image for gatsbythepig

dont care, might as well play oblivion

Avatar image for Oni

That's awesome! MMO Golf sounds amazing! No wonder it's beating WoW and Final Fantasy. Go Nintendo! lol

Avatar image for darcybaston

Ragnarok is so addicting. It's cute, very social, has an easy learning curve and can be very challenging. For 2D MMORPG gaming, it's the best I've seen yet. I've seen some live tournaments on TV surrounding this title, and have witnessed in-game weddings that are very well done.

Avatar image for Black_Sage89

I like the part that somebody mentioned earlier. World of Warcarft. GG @ TYPO

Avatar image for suhunkorea


Avatar image for iamleon

korean is on the way to take the world's mmo area

Avatar image for SDog624

counter strike is a huge game around the world.when i was in thailand, i meant many kids and when i asked them if they played video games, i was surprised to hear that they all played counter strike.

Avatar image for bosal

It's not that surprising! As a couple of posts have already pointed out, the whole look of the games (cute characters, bright colours, etc.) are well suited to the Japanese game market. On a side note relating to the online gaming scene in Korea, it's good to see MMOG branching out into other game genres, such as with Golf Ppangya. Korea also has MMO racing (Kart Rider, CT Racer) and MMO shooting games (Special Force).

Avatar image for swordmasterv

superkoolstud Whats next a Bass Fishing MMO? Ironically, there is a fishing MMO out there. I kid thee not about this...

Avatar image for Atomic_Mutant

Japan is a country where Half-Life 2 on an arcade machine is a better solution of porting the game to Japan than localizing the PC game in a conventional sense. It is just that Japanese definition of gaming has been around for 20 plus years and that 'Americans' are more or less familiarized with their aesthetic means to adopt a lot of their content. Funny, since among tens of thousands of titles developed by Japanese some have found more fervent reception than what the game was originally intended for. I can think of Metroid, for one. Part of a reason that Korean MMO games are popular in Japan is that these games in question are essentially gems among numerous titles that have been already developed, in addition to Japan representing their second biggest market. There is no doubt that these games appeal to the Japanese sense of aesthetics due to their design priorities drawn up accordingly...that racism is part of the equation is out of the question. If Japan had one single friend in the world, that would be the United States in terms of its geopolitical alliance and economical partnership.

Avatar image for mhder

Neoyamaneko @knn2003: It has nothing to do with FPSes. Why do people that defend Japanese gamers always knee-jerk with the FPS arguement? It doesn't matter who makes them or how they look, FPS just don't sell in Japan. It could be a cultural thing, maybe they see it as being limited - lacking emotion or drama of an adventure or RPG. But another simple factor might be - FPS really took off in North America because you could play with and vs friends. With limited internet use in Japan, is it a surprise FPS haven't taken off like in North AMerica?

Avatar image for Neoyamaneko

@knn2003: It has nothing to do with FPSes. Why do people that defend Japanese gamers always knee-jerk with the FPS arguement?

Avatar image for mhder

I think another thing people forget when it comes to MMORPGS in Japan is that many Japanese homes still don't have PCs for internet use. If they do, many still use phone lines. Japan doesn't have a huge Online PC gaming base. Why do you think-not many Japanese companies make games based on play online?? Internet use in Japan is mainly done on their cell phones because it is a standard feature. Of course there are Internet cafes but compared to Taiwan and South Korea, they are non-existent.

Avatar image for CLDragonCL

not supprising, people who grew up in different places have different tastes. You can't expect a Westerner to enjoy every kind of food that an Asian would, why expect Asians to enjoy every game (especialy western made) as much as us??

Avatar image for mhder

They have nothing against western games or western game makers. They have a preference in certain kind of games. ANd Japan and South Korea are not the best of friends either so don't bring nationalities into it. Even when it comes to the DS, an strategy game like Advance wars doesn't sell as well as it does in North America. ANd when it comes to graphics - well they don't care that much because as the DS has shown the PSP, gameplay is what matters in Japan. You can't just make one with realistic graphics and hope the lemmings will come and buy your crap, you actually have to make a game.

Avatar image for knn2003

People who mention racism in this are idiots. FPSs just don't appeal to the Japanese audience, just like how Americans think quirky Japanese games are deathly boring and ridiculous.

Avatar image for joestierman

i think starcraft is still beating them all in korea? jk

Avatar image for a0me

Maybe the article should have mentionned that WoW hasn't been released in Japan yet...

Avatar image for Iramek

is not rascism to say... its more so that the games they play are more or less build around thier culture. really, a golf mmo would not sell in the US. the same would apply to games that they have would not sell (at least well) here is nt states. look at DBZ..its been around for years. the US is just now getting to where JP was some 10 years ago.

Avatar image for _sean_05

aznz wanna play a US-made fps or fprpg as bad as you all wanna play a Japanese made dating sim.

Avatar image for superflipmick

why does this have to be a question of racism. japan, korea similar geographical location = similar interest. this is a matter of what interest satisfy japanese gamers.

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