Online sports attract lots of gamers
The K-League kicked off again in March and the country’s professional baseball league is expecting to attract 6 million spectators to ballparks for the 2011 season. Backed up by the excitement in the stadiums sports games in cyberspace are also drawing many users.
Attractions of sports games
Games based on sports have been steady sellers in the industry. Developers of these games don’t expect to fail even though they may not hit the jackpot, as sports based games satisfy fans. Kim Jong-dae, a researcher at LG Economic Research Institute, says there are four factors that make these games fun and draw people to them. “Voluntary interaction with their virtual role, a challenge to reach the target and remuneration, competition observing the rules, and fair chances make games fun,” Kim said in a report.
As players freely control and interact with the characters, they can immerse themselves without being hampered by physical or economic limitations in the real world, and without worrying about failure. Sports games satisfy these conditions.
Diverse games have been launched to attract sports fans. Recently those where users become the coach or owner of a club instead of the player have become popular.
The hottest among these games is “Baseball 9-dan” launched by NHN, operator of the country’s top portal Naver. Its users exceeded 300,000 only a week after its launch.
It is a baseball simulation, where users form their own club comprising of real professional baseball players and train them to compete. As the game allows real-time intervention, strategic thinking and knowledge of baseball the user determines the game, rather than it being about game control ability or luck of drawing good players.
EA Professional Baseball 2011, launched by EA Mobile, a leading producer of sports game, boasts the most realistic graphic among mobile games released so far. It supports views from both the pitcher and hitter’s perspective, and is the first mobile game to employ the hot stove league where users can trade players after the completion of the season. The game also offers a management option.
As the game is official-licensed by the Korea Professional Baseball Player Association, not only the players on the rosters but also those who have retired are in the game with their real name. EA Mobile strengthened the social networking service (SNS) feature of the game. Users can send their players to other users for training, or trade players.
Those who want more experience of being a club owner may consider “FC Manager,” which would offer them the chance to be like Roman Abramovich, the Russian oil tycoon who owns Chelsea FC. He is sometimes referred to as a collector of the world’s top class players as he buys them regardless of how much they cost. FC Manager by Hanbit Soft, enables the game users to scout and train players and set up their own team.
The popularity of sports games reflects offline interest. Unlike other genres, sports games attract both the aged and the young. Thanks to a broad consumer base, the game developers feel somewhat safe. “Magu Magu,'' a multi-player baseball game by CJ Internet, and “Slugger” by Neowiz Games records around 3 billion won in monthly sales, each, with between 20,000 to 30,000 players logging on.
Parents who have a negative view of computer games due to research that they can trigger violence are also more lenient about sports games as they have fewer negatives. They see sports games as a means of getting closer to their children, playing them together.
Thanks to the positive side of sports, game companies are using them for marketing purpose offline as well. NC Soft will form an expansion team in the baseball league despite the 5 to 6 billion won annual operating costs, and CJ Internet sponsor professional baseball. Nexon and NHN are both sponsoring teams in the Japanese baseball league.