From Games to Comics with One IP! Expanding IP Market with Content Competitiveness 2023-06-12
From games to comics with one IP!
Expanding IP market with content competitiveness
Smilegate Content Business Director Ji-tak Chae
Hero in Suit at Military Academy, an online novel, was recently released on the Kakao Page. This is an example of content expansion based on the IP of Epic Seven, Smilegate’s representative mobile game. When the novel was made public, not only the Epic Seven users, but also the existing online novel readers welcomed the new content.
Smilegate aims to be a global IP powerhouse. The company is establishing an independent IP universe by expanding content to various platforms based on its IP power. Ji-tak Chae, Smilegate’s Content Business Director, talks about the company’s dynamic moves to expand the IP market.
Q. Please briefly introduce Content Business Division and yourself.
Content Business Division largely consists of three teams, which are Content Development Team, Content Business Team and Pilot Project Team. We strengthen Smilegate’s IP competitiveness by creating secondary contents and developing products using the IPs owned by Smilegate Group. We are developing and expanding the market in order to extend the horizon for the source IPs of Smilegate. Ultimately, we try to find the ways to more successfully publicize the charms of our IPs.
Q. Recently, an online novel using the IP of Epic Seven was released on the Kakao Page. What was the background of this IP expansion?
The release of the online novel based on Epic Seven IP is expected to create a virtuous cycle where we can attract the online novel fans to our games, which is our source content, at the same time as giving pleasure on a new level to the existing users. This can be a basis for IP expansion. Currently, the online novel market is amplifying across the globe. As much as so, the timing is ideal for game IPs to transform into online novels. These days, when single content is developed, it is anticipated to produce greater ripple effects through connection with various media, such as game, animated film, character, video, and publishing. This way, we can keep the power of IP for longer. The online novel published using Epic Seven IP is an example.
Q. Among various formats, what was the reason for choosing online novel?
Online novel is a good platform for publicizing the game universe, story and characters. In particular, we were confident that attracting online novel readers would have a positive impact on the game IP expansion in the long run. The recently released online novel was created as a new fan fiction-type story while maintaining the Epic Seven universe and settings, rather than reproducing the content of Epic Seven in a different format. In a way, we separately built a new IP of Smilegate.
Q. How were the strengths of the game, Epic Seven, reflected in the game IP expansion to a secondary content like the online novel?
Many users have pointed out the splendid graphics and diverse characters of Epic Seven as the strengths of this game. The great narratives of each character were another differentiation point. In fact, the game is played based on the unique Epic Seven universe and narratives. So, the game has secured a strong fan base. Diverse characters and extensive narratives serve as strengths enabling us to approach secondary content development from various angles. What is important is that the novel must not be difficult also for online novel readers who have never played Epic Seven because, for an online novel, readers’ immersion in the first few episodes is important. So, we created original characters for the online novel while keeping the Epic Seven universe and characters. We also created the background locations so that anyone can easily follow the storyline.
Q. Online comics and novels are a rapidly growing market. Large platforms have set out to target this market, and global big companies like Apple and Amazon have already entered it. What is your outlook for this market?
The online comic and novel market is growing by leaps and bounds. Not only NAVER and Kakao, but also Watcha, an OTT service provider, are creating platforms. As such, a number of late comers are continuously entering the market. As the market expands, the number of production companies is also increasing. The reason for the rapid growth of this market ultimately is the expansibility and competitiveness of the story-based IPs. Online comics and novels have a strength of high expansibility to other areas, such as game and video. I, too, have a positive outlook for the growth potential of this market. The industry focuses on the phenomenon of the Paying User (PU) and Average Revenue Per Paying User (ARPPU) of online comic platforms to increase. There is also an analysis that online comic platforms can be more advantageous in terms of profit generation than video platforms and audio streaming. Some even forecast that online comics and novels will become a super platform like YouTube or Spotify.
Q. Global OTT service providers, such as Netflix, have growing interest in K-online comics and novels. Examples include All of Us Are Dead and Sweet Home produced as original series. Do you have a plan to expand Epic Seven to an online comic or OTT platform?
We are still in a planning stage, so it’s more of a wish. While working for a production company in the past, I promoted TV series production based on online comics and novels and, reversely, also handled the development of online comics or live-teller series based on TV series. Most of all, I believe that the production of an online novel based on Epic Seven alone opened up possibilities for expansion to an online comic or OTT platform. Hero in Suit at Military School is being serially released at the moment and, when the series is completed around July, it will be changed to “Wait and Read for Free” service. Until then, our top priority is to successfully complete the series.
Q. In your opinion, what is the potential of K-online comics and novels to dominate the global market?
I try to read online comics and novels in various genres. Rather than those higher up on the ranking, I look for online comics and novels that adopt different and original subjects, like subculture genre. The preference of domestic and overseas users varies depending on the cultural and social atmosphere. One that is not very favorably received in the domestic market can be quite popular overseas. Korea’s online comic and novel market is a treasure chest of content that draws the world’s attention. As an example, Kenaz, a Korean company that has won the exclusive right to supply online comics to Apple is collaborating with Bernard Werber, a popular French author, to turn his novel Empire of the Ants to a trilogy online comic. In the K-online comic and novel market, authors’ creativity and powerful platforms capable of attracting and appealing to the public create synergy. In particular, authors develop captivating stories to increase readers’ immersion through real-time communication with them. In this process, a strong base of support for online comics and novels is formed. This is a strength of online comics and novels that is clearly differentiated from that of the conventional novels and films.
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