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G-Star 2023 explores untried genres, subculture sceneBy Moon Joon-hyun
Published : Nov. 19, 2023 - 15:44
BUSAN -- Key game industry players, such as NCSoft and Netmarble, showcased their latest projects at the G-Star 2023 game exhibition held in Busan last week, delving into unexplored genres with high production values and top-notch graphics
The event, hosted by the Korea Association of Game Industry and the Busan IT Promotion Agency, featured a record number of 3,328 booths with participation from 1,037 companies across 42 countries.
Notably, NCSoft made a significant return after an eight-year absence, joining WeMade, the G-Star sponsor, in headlining the event.
A highlight of NCSoft's booth was an open-world massively multiplayer online shooting game, currently titled "LLL." This game, set in a post-apocalyptic Seoul and made for PCs and consoles rather than mobile phones, represents a new direction for the company’s global market strategy.
While still in development and lacking a confirmed release date, the LLL showcase garnered attention for its ambitious narrative and high-quality production, even from attendees who hadn't heard anything about the game beforehand, along with some suggestions for improvement.
"The game's quality is definitely a step up for NCSoft,” said Yoon Sung-jun, a gamer from Busan.
“But it might not uniquely capture Seoul for those unfamiliar with the city, potentially blending into the wider shooter genre."
Adjacent to NCSoft's presentation was Smilegate RPG's substantial booth, showcasing a mobile adaptation of the successful PC game, Lost Ark, known as Lost Ark Mobile.
This massive multiplayer online role-playing game offers diverse character classes and a vast open world, set in the "enchanting world of Arkesia." Smilegate RPG provided a comprehensive experience of the game across mobile, PC and VR platforms.
The game's popularity was evident, with demonstration seats filling up within minutes of the booth's opening and waiting times extending to three hours at peak periods.
Smilegate's partnership with Amazon Games had brought Lost Ark PC to the global stage in early 2022. It resonated especially with gamers in North America and Europe, pushing its total global user base beyond 20 million.
The game's graphic prowess, enhanced by Unreal Engine 5, was a significant draw for participants.
"I was surprised by how well the mobile adaptation handles the game mechanics. The graphics were stunning indeed. I’d say it’s pretty close to the top-tier standards set by major global gaming firms," said Yoo, an attendee at the exhibition who works in the gaming industry.
However, the release date for Lost Ark Mobile remains unannounced.
Other than new genres and high-profile console and mobile games, Netmarble captivated the audience with an array of subculture genre games, highlighted by the anticipated release of "The Seven Deadly Sins: Origin."
This open-world collectible role-playing game, available across mobile phones, PCs and consoles, is a continuation of the globally successful mobile RPG "The Seven Deadly Sins: Grandcross," which has reached over 10 million downloads worldwide.
Subculture games, known for anime-style graphics and character development, are gaining traction in Europe and North America, with sales in the UK and US increasing about 70 percent last year compared to 2018.
"The Seven Deadly Sins: Origin," based on popular Japanese anime IP, diverges into a multiverse original story with a unique protagonist. The game aims to engage players deeply through various modes tailored to different events, offering an exclusive narrative experience.
Even before the exhibition, the game generated international buzz. Overseas fans, having seen teasers, compared it to Chinese game maker miHoYo's "Genshin Impact," a global benchmark in the subculture genre.
"There are bound to be similarities with any open-world subculture game. We just do not pay attention to, or even play, 'Genshin Impact,' focusing on developing our own world," said Gu Do-hyung, the game's producer during Netmarble's media interview.
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