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South Korean In-App Purchase Revenue Reaches $3.6 Billion in First Three Quarters of 2023

In a new report from Sensor Tower, it was revealed that South Korean in-app purchase revenue reached nearly $3.6 billion in the first three quarters of 2023, with overseas manufacturers accounting for 42% of the total. China and the United States were the overseas markets that saw the most success in South Korea, contributing 28% and 7% of the revenue among the country's top mobile games, respectively.

The report showed that in-app purchase revenue in South Korea experienced significant growth during the pandemic, peaking at $5.9 billion in 2021. Although revenue has declined somewhat, with a projected full-year revenue for 2023 of $4.8 billion, it remains above pre-pandemic levels. In-app revenue for the first three quarters of 2023 was 24% higher than the same period in 2019, and there are no signs of slowing down.

On the other hand, downloads have been on a downward trend. While 2020 saw downloads reach 650 million, a 9% increase from 2019, 2021 and 2022 saw download figures fall below those of 2019. Year-to-date downloads in 2024 reached 370 million, with projected full-year downloads expected to be 500 million. Mosaic Heroes was identified as both the most downloaded mobile game and the one with the highest download growth, accumulating over 2.4 million downloads.

RPG was the most profitable genre in South Korea, generating $2 billion in in-app revenue in the first three quarters of 2023, making up 50% of the total. MMORPGs, in particular, were highly lucrative, generating $1.4 billion in revenue in the same period, accounting for 69% of the genre's revenue during that time. South Korea is a global leader in the mobile MMORPG space, responsible for a significant 32% of the subgenre's global revenue. This was attributed in part to the continued success of Lineage M, which was identified as South Korea's highest-earning mobile game with $300 million in revenue for the period, ranking first in the country's revenue charts.

NCSoft maintained its position as South Korea's highest-earning mobile publisher, holding the title for five consecutive years. Additionally, five Chinese developers, including Tencent and miHoYo, ranked among the top ten highest-earning publishers in South Korea for the same period.

Several South Korean games achieved success in international markets. Nexon's Blue Files was the most successful export, generating $190 million in overseas revenue. Maple Story: Maple Legend, released in China in August, attracted players quickly, earning $65 million in that period and surpassing $100 million in lifetime revenue. This underscores the immense influence of China's mobile market.

Interestingly, South Korean games found more success in other international markets than in China. The United States, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau were identified as the top overseas markets for South Korean mobile games, contributing $930 million in revenue, accounting for 40% of overseas revenue.

Source: adapted from an article by Lewis Rees, Staff Writer for Pocket Gamer

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