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Games

Nintendo Korea logs record-high revenue despite boycott of Japanese goods

Nintendo's Korea-based business makes a huge turnaround with sales surging over tenfold in four years

By Jul 20, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Nintendo's Animal Crossing became a huge hit during the global pandemic.
Nintendo's Animal Crossing became a huge hit during the global pandemic.

Japanese video game giant Nintendo Co. posted an all-time high revenue in South Korea last year despite consumers boycotting Japanese products. The company's impressive performance was driven by the popularity of its original game titles such as Animal Crossing and The Legend of Zelda.

According to the game industry on July 20, Nintendo's Korea-based office logged revenue of 400 billion won ($348.5 million) and an operating profit of 26.6 billion won in the fiscal year of April 2020 to March 2021, up by 73% and 111% compared to the year-earlier period, respectively.

Also, Nintendo Korea was the 12th highest-grossing domestic game company last year, following closely behind game platform giant NHN Corp. and video game developer Gravity Co., which ranked 10th and 11th, respectively, logging revenue of 409.1 billion won and 405.7 billion won.

This is a huge turnaround considering that Nintendo Korea's sales had plunged to 39.2 billion won in 2016. Since then, the company has seen its revenue surge over tenfold in just four years.

Nintendo Korea's performance is also notable given the ongoing boycott of Japanese goods that stemmed from soured relations between Korea and Japan in 2019. For example, the popular Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo had closed down more than 50 stores in Korea over the past two years.

Fortunately, Nintendo Korea wasn't affected by the boycott and instead experienced great success thanks to its exclusive games becoming global hits.

In 2017, Nintendo rolled out the video game console, Nintendo Switch, followed by releases of Switch console games including Animal Crossing and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which sold over 20 million copies worldwide.

The Switch console games became immensely popular during the COVID-19 crisis as social distancing restrictions led to a rise in the number of gamers.

"It's hard to replace a classic hit like The Legend of Zelda series. It shows you how important it is to have a strong game intellectual property portfolio like Nintendo," said a game industry official.

Backed by Nintendo games' popularity, the domestic console gaming market is expected to maintain strong growth and top 1 trillion won in volume this year, according to the Korea Creative Content Agency.

Write to Joo-wan Kim at kjwan@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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