GamesBeat

How a Korean mobile studio uses messaging apps like Line and Kakao for global success

Above: Devsisters' Cookie Run for Android and iOS.

Image Credit: Devsisters

A Korean company that once topped the worldwide mobile-game market is back on a trajectory for global success after years of ignoring foreign markets.

Devsisters, a Korean game studio, recently released Cookie Run for Android’s Google Play market and iOS’s App Store in North America, as first spotted by Asian news site Betech. This is the company’s first worldwide release in several years, and it comes after the studio dominated its home market.

In Korea, Devsisters released Cookie Run on the Kakao Talk chat and game-distribution platform, which is available on 95 percent of smartphones in Korea. It’s a colorful endless runner starring a gingerbread man and has 18 million players just in South Korea. Devsisters generated $20 million in revenue for each of its last three quarters primarily thanks to Cookie Run.

But this success is a return to form for Devsisters, which previously had a global hit in the early days of smartphone gaming.

In 2009, Devsisters had one of the most popular games on mobile, and not just in South Korea. Ovenbreak, another endless runner, was the top game on iOS in 20 different countries, and it garnered 18 million total downloads. After Ovenbreak, however, Devsisters struggled to re-create that same level of success, and it decided to pull back its efforts and focus simply on making games for Korea.

From 2010 through 2012, Devsisters toiled away without making much of a dent. In late 2012, however, Kakao Talk debuted in Korea and instantly found a massive audience.

Kakao Talk is a chat app that also enables its users to easily talk about and share the games they’re playing. These types of distribution networks are hot in Asian markets, and Kakao is one of the biggest. The downside is that Kakao takes 21 percent of a game’s revenues for helping with distribution on top of the 30 percent that Apple and Google take.

With the help of Kakao, Cookie Run had around 3 million daily active users (DAUs) during its last quarter. In the past three months, Devsisters’ biggest days saw revenues top out at around $1 million.

Now, as a huge Korean hit, Devsisters is once again looking to take on the global market. This time, it’s sticking with a proven path to success and working with Line, another messaging and game-distribution service that is popular in countries like Japan.

In fact, Line was the highest-grossing nongaming app for all of 2013 in the world. It is responsible for distributing games like Line Pkopang and apps like Line Camera.

Devsisters will distribute Cookie Run on Line in North America, U.K., and Thailand. It will also expand to China, but it will stick to the Kakao platform in that market.

 

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