Netmarble in awkward spot as HYBE makes foray into game creation Korean gaming giant is second largest shareholder of the company behind BTS

Translated by Ryu Ho-joung 공개 2022-02-25 08:07:48

이 기사는 2022년 02월 25일 08:07 더벨 유료페이지에 표출된 기사입니다.

HYBE, the company behind the K-pop band BTS, is entering the gaming industry with plans to launch a new casual game later this year, a move that was widely expected after former Nexon Korea chief executive Park Ji-won joined the entertainment company two years ago.

HYBE, formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment, acquired 51% of rhythm game developer Superb for 5.6 billion won ($4.6 million) in August 2019. Last year it purchased the remaining stake for 1 billion won to merge with the game studio and created a new division called HYBE IM.

HYBE IM, short for interactive media, develops games that feature songs and other intellectual property of the company’s artists. With more than 80 experienced game developers, the division last year launched Rhythm Hive, a rhythm game featuring artists including BTS and TXT.

HYBE’s gaming business is led by general manager Jeong Woo-yong, a gaming veteran who developed Nexon's popular casual game Crazy Arcade BnB M. He moved to HYBE in 2020 together with Park Ji-won.

Park, who was named as HYBE’s CEO in July last year, spent most of his career at Nexon that he joined in 2003. He became global chief of Nexon Japan in 2010 and CEO of Nexon Korea in 2014. Apart from Jeong, many gaming talent followed Park to join HYBE.

HYBE plans to launch a new casual mobile game in June. “The new game targets BTS fans and light gamers around the world,” Park said.

Friend or foe

The growth in HYBE’s new businesses such as gaming would be a positive for the stock, especially given the company’s heavy reliance on BTS. This could benefit Netmarble, the country’s gaming giant and the second largest shareholder of HYBE after founder Bang Si-hyuk

Netmarble holds a 19.3% stake in HYBE, which was worth roughly 2.1 trillion won based on Tuesday’s closing price of 273,500 won each.

However, it looks unavoidable for Netmarble to compete with HYBE’s new game as it also plans to release a rhythm game called BTS Dream TinyTan House in the first half of this year. Competition between the two companies is expected to continue as HYBE intends to expand its business to include game publishing.

In June 2019, Netmarble launched BTS World, a mobile video game that allows players to take the role of BTS' manager. Netmarble Monster, a subsidiary of Netmarble, released another video game BTS Universe Story last year. But it is said performance of those games fell short of expectations. (Reporting by Seul-gi Kim)
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