Korea: Netmarble is the World’s No. 3 App Developer

Netmarble, a Seoul-based mobile game developer, was named among the world’s top three mobile publishers by App Annie, an industry research firm, on Friday. Netmarble is also gearing up to go public in May 2017. It plans to raise $4.4 billion and go on an acquisition spree following the IPO.

The latest index has Netmarble in third among app developers around the world by revenue from Apple’s App Store and Google Play for the month of March. Tencent, an internet giant from China, topped the chart, while NetEase, a Chinese online service provider and mobile game developer, followed close behind in second.

Netmarble first entered the top three in February on the back of its success with Lineage II: Revolution, a mobile multiplayer online role-playing game that it developed with intellectual rights from NCsoft. “When the company was first ranked within the top three, it was significant that it posted the highest revenue in the world, excluding Tencent and NetEase,” a spokesperson from Netmarble said, since the two Chinese companies benefit from a large domestic market.

Netmarble first climbed up to fifth when Lineage II: Revolution was released in December. The game raked in more than 200 billion won ($175.7 million) in profit. The popularity of the game has yet to subside, as Lineage II: Revolution has been ranked second in the world by revenue since January, according to App Annie data.

While Lineage II: Revolution continues its run in the domestic market, players are eagerly awaiting the release of Netmarble’s Pentastorm, a mobile multiplayer online battle arena game. This game is based on a player-vs-player format where two teams of a certain number of players battle each other while developing their characters along the way, the degree of which becomes crucial to the team’s success.

Pentastorm is currently being tested on Google Play, where it has already ranked second in the new free apps category, according to App Annie. The recent performance bodes well for Netmarble, which is preparing to list on the Korea Exchange as early as May.

“Compared to its global competitors, Netmarble’s growth in sales shows the most rapid increase,” said Kim So-hye, an analyst at Hanwha Investment & Securities. “It also has a stable portfolio with a number of hit games and should be given a valuation premium in comparison to its competitors.” Kim estimates Netmarble’s year-on-year sales growth this year will be 107 percent and operating profit growth to be 291 percent.

Lineage II Revolution Gameplay (Image Credit: Netmarble)

Netmarble is planning to release its enormously successful game Lineage 2: Revolution in Japan and China by the end of 2017.

As reported by Reuters, the company said in a briefing that it would launch the game in Japan in the third quarter of 2017. The China release is set to follow in the fourth quarter.

The developer is likely to run into issues with this launch however, given China’s current ban on South Korean developers launching games in the country.

Big in China

Netmarble remains undeterred, however. It is reportedly hoping the ban has been lifted by the time it is ready to release, and its CEO Kwon Young-sig is confident that the game could be a top three title in China.

Lineage 2: Revolution has been enormously successful in its home country of South Korea. It was found to be the top grossing game worldwide in February 2017 despite having only been launched in one country.



Lineage II – Revolution (Image Credit: Netmarble)

PocketGamer.biz recently interviewed Lineage 2: Revolution‘s Game Director Cho ShinHwa on how the game came to be and how the studio went about bringing a PC MMORPG to mobile. It’s safe to say that Lineage 2 Revolution has been a huge success for Netmarble.

On the face of it, this hardcore MMORPG based on a PC title is one that caters to a relatively niche audience.

But despite only being available in South Korea, the game hit $100 million in revenues within 18 days – $176 million in a month – powering its developer to an 81% leap in profits.

For context, Pokemon GO was slower to reach $100 million despite being available in multiple countries at launch.

Indeed, Lineage 2 Revolution managed to top the worldwide grossing charts for February from its South Korean success alone, and Netmarble is now in the process of gearing up for a global release.


Frank for InsideGamesAsia.biz

Ric Cowley for PocketGamer.biz

Matt Suckely for PocketGamer.biz

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