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The Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Korea Game Industry Agency have just released the latest whitepaper on the Korean game industry – The Rise of Korean Games 2007.

The document contains industry figures for 2006 (a shame to be just getting this now!) and outlines government policy trends and strategies for the industry. It can be downloaded from the Korean Game Industry Total Information Service System website.

An addendum, the volume does appear to be published mid-2007. It has only just been listed on the GITISS website as of 8 September 2008, so perhaps this publishing date refers to the original Korean language version?

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Reporting on the size of the digital content industry in Japan, an AP news feed on AOL news indicates that the digital content market size in Japan has grew to 2.694 trillion yen in 2007, just under 3.4 per cent growth.

The figures come as the Digital Content Association of Japan released their Digital Content White Paper 2008, which will interest readers of Japanese, on 1 September.

According to the association’s Press Release (PDF file in Japanese), 2007 saw visual content emerge with a clear margin as the largest contributor to digital content sales, reaching 30 per cent of total sale (540.8 billion yen, an increase of 8.7 per cent). Music was down to 26 per cent of the total, showing a negligible decrease in sales to 596.5 billion yen (12.5 billion yen down from the previons year). Game software also experienced a small decrease to total 767.7 billion yen, while digital publishing sales increased by over 10 per cent to reach 789.7 billion yen.

While most digital content was still predominantly sold as packaged media (66 per cent of total), consumption through mobile phones increased to reach 21.6 per cent of the total, ahead of online sales 11.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, the whole (media) content market size stood at 13.8 trillion yen, an ever so slight increase on 2006 of 0.3 per cent. 5.8 trillion of this was in publishing, 4.84 trillion in visual content, 1.86 trillion in music and 1.29 trillion in games. With regards to distribution medium, 48.6 per cent were packaged goods, 29.2 per cent via broadcasting, 12.8  per cent through location-based distribution (cinemas, game arcades, concerts), 5 per cent online, and 4.3 per cent via mobile.

Not surprisingly, packaged media has been steadily decreasing over the past 5 years as online and mobile sales continue to grow.

The Japan International Contents Festival gets underway at the end of this month running from 30 September through 28 October.

While more than 10 days shorter than last year’s ‘festa’, CoFesta 2008 still brings together individual markets and festivals across games, animation, characters, broadcast, film, and music content.

Check out the English version of CoFesta’s website.

Just some facts in this post – and apologies for the delay.

According to figures released in April by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian-based game developers received $A116.9 million in revenue over the 2006/07 financial year.

The ABS data indicated that as of June 2007 there were 1,431 employees in the local industry, which indicates considerable growth from 9 months earlier in September 2006 when employees stood at 1,024.

Confirming the status of the industry as a service exporter, ABS figures showed that 92 per cent of developers’ revenue came from non-resident clients over the 2006-07 financial year.

In contrast, sales of game hardware and software in Australia reached A$1.32 billion in 2007, surpassing box office revenue, with software sales accounting for approximately A$750 million of this.

The UK games industry has been vocal throughout the year protesting the inaction of government amid declining domestic production and developers in Canada receiving generous tax incentives.

Yet is it accurate to blame government inaction for the industry’s decline? Some industry participants survey in politics.co.uk article UK games industry ‘dead man walking’ believe it is.

Richard Wilson, Chief executive of Tiga, said: “Without real measures to turn the tide, we’ll see our best people follow the money overseas to where governments are more willing to invest in the future. A great British industry could become a dead man walking, just like the British film industry the before government gave it a tax credit.

Something that is not often mentioned in lobbying for government assistance is the difference in cost of living (and therefore labour costs) between London and several Canadian cities where major game developers have established studios. Regardless of tax concessions and wage subsidies, low living expenses make locations attractive to multinationals, and may also make it easier for employees to setup their own companies.

Tax-based incentives that are based on cultural production are also a highly inefficient instrument for industry to rely on. Assessing the cultural component of any one game to qualify for assistance could well be an arbitrary endeavour, and the stipulation for games to contain cultural content is bound to distort production decisions away from market preferences.

Production-based tax incentives and subsidies tend to appeal to small, independent developers, whereas larger studios particularly first-party studios linked to publishers are far more concerned about the supply of skilled talent.

Are appealing for tax incentives for local producers really the best way to enhance the international competitiveness of the industry?

Japanese, Korean, and recently Chinese TV dramas have all boomed in export markets, if only for short-lived waves. But with all nations eager to increase exports of creative content, focus from within the industry has been drawn to intra-regional co-productions.

In an article in the Daily Yomiuri, Yoshikazu Suzuki outlines the prospect of a joint Japanese-South Korean TV drama production mooted at the third TV Drama Forum of East Asia held in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture.

Such collaboration could see Japanese scriptwriters, for example, teaming up with Korean creative, technical, and acting talent.

The project emerged as momentum grew among the Japanese and South Korean participants toward jointly producing dramas. The project involves seven popular Japanese scriptwriters, including Yoshikazu Okada, Yumiko Inoue and Shizuka Oishi, who will write original scripts with settings in South Korea, as well as South Korean directors and actors. The project calls for each episode, which will last up to two hours, to be broadcast by TV stations in both countries after being shown in cinemas.

This would allow entry of Japanese co-produced drama onto Korean terrestrial broadcast, (the article indicates Japanese drama is still banned) and provide the Korean industry with an injection of writing talent.

It would be interesting seeing a similar use of scriptwriters filtering through to other sectors of the Korean content industry such as animation, where studios have often been met with great acclaim for their technical prowess but have fallen short of receiving similar praise for the stories that hold together original home-grown animation.

Australian censors have banned a London-made game for being too violent, according to the London Free Press.

The article has quoted the Board as labeling the game “violent and sometimes gruesome game with a sinister storyline and ominous outcome.”

“The violence and aggression inflicted upon the protagonist is of a high level, naturalistic and not stylized at all.”

With no R18+ rating for games in Australia, it is not surprising that games depicting ‘mature’ scenes are not given a classification. Introducing an R18+ rating for  games (like there is for film and video) would allow adult gamers the freedom to choose, and parents with game-playing children the information not to choose games with explicit violence or mature themes.

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