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Korea’s top mobile game to be launched in Taiwan in Q1 2022

Odin: Valhalla Rising overtakes Lineage M with estimated sales of more than $171 million

By Oct 27, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Korea’s top mobile game to be launched in Taiwan in Q1 2022

South Korea’s top mobile game Odin: Valhalla Rising will be launched Taiwan in the first quarter of next year as its developer Lionheart Studio Corp. aims to grow its overseas business.

Lionheart plans to expand its presence in the global market by releasing the massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORP) in other countries, beginning with Taiwan, said its CEO Kim Jae-young.

“Our goal is to become a global game company,” said Kim who founded the developer in 2018.

Odin has changed the landscape of South Korea’s game industry of late. In July, Odin, distributed by Kakao Games Corp., became the country's No. 1 game in terms of revenue, overtaking Lineage M by NCSoft Corp., which had been topping the list for more than four years.

Since then, the open-world MMORPG that adapts the worldview and history of Nordic mythology has been on the throne, defying expectations that Lineage M will soon recover the lead.

Odin, launched on June 29, is estimated to have generated more than 200 billion won ($171.4 million) in revenue so far.

'JUST ONE MORE STEP FORWARD'

Kim, a star developer with the 2014 box-office hit mobile game Blade under its belt, said Odin reflects successful factors of existing popular games but improves on their problems.

“The game industry has made numerous attempts, but I always thought it is silly to focus on something new that didn’t exist. I asked developers to make a game with the idea of absorbing what survived and taking just one more step forward,” he said.

To solve the shortcomings of existing popular games, Lionheart greatly expanded the backround space in Odin, enhancing room for content to enable cooperation between users. The company also upgraded graphics to the highest level of mobile games ever.

“The game does not proceed as planned by the developer, but allows users to continue to find new fun in the game," he said.

Kim said Odin also attracted users as it avoids excessive billing on items, which prompted many gamers to shun NCSoft’s Blade & Soul 2 launched in August.

“Users appreciated Odin’s policy to spend less and preserve items’ value, which played a positive role in terms of popularity.”
Lionheart Studio CEO Kim Jae-young discusses Odin: Valhalla Rising
Lionheart Studio CEO Kim Jae-young discusses Odin: Valhalla Rising

NEW IP DEVELOPED BY STARTUP

The game’s success has been in the spotlight since it was a new intellectual property (IP) developed by a startup. That compared to South Korea’s major game makers that make money from existing IPs. Odin was a surprise success considering Lionheart had been far behind major developers in all areas, including manpower and resources for game development.

To overcome such issues, Lionheart made it a top priority to hire the industry’s best developers and planners.

“We recruited essential talent, offering more than 10 million won above the industry's highest annual salary,” Kim said.

Lionheart also used cutting-edge technology. The company was the first mobile game developer in South Korea to use motion capture and 3D scanning technology. It usually takes two to three weeks for experienced developers and a month for new developers to complete a high-quality game character. But with the 3D scanning technology, a junior developer can finish such a job within a week.

“We judged we could not win working in the same way as other companies,” Kim said. “It is very important to raise the level of development per unit hour even if the company grows.”

Write to Joo-Wan Kim and Min-Ki Koo at kjwan@hankyung.com

Jongwoo Cheon edited this article.

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