Popular Korean online game revives Taiwan company

Taiwan's Gamania hopes the wildly popular South Korean game, Kart Racer, can revive its business, even though the game is free to play.

A wildly popular online game from Nexon might help revive the fortunes of a Taiwanese company, even though the company won't charge a fee to play the game.

Taiwan's Gamania Digital Entertainment signed a deal with South Korea's Nexon to market the massively multiplayer online game, Kart Racer, in Taiwan and Hong Kong for the next two years.

Although Gamania will not ask for up-front fees from players of the game, its stock leaped 6.9 percent on the news, ending the day on Taiwan Stock Exchange at NT$29.3 (AUD$1.19).

The game sends players' avatars, or online representations, racing around city and country streets, through waterfalls and minefields, against other online players.

Companies hosting Kart Racer make money by charging users fees to customize the game with virtual upgrades from a pimped-up car to virtual goggles and other clothing, as well as missiles to fire at other players. Although the virtual items are cheap, around AUD$0.67 to $4.69 or so, charges can add up fast for users looking for an edge.

Kart Racer has already proven a hit in South Korea, fertile ground for online game developers and especially those exporting products to other locations in Asia. Online games that hit it big in South Korea tend to do well elsewhere in the region. It helps that the country is also a major developer of online games.

Gamania hopes Kart Racer can help it win back users of its site who started to drift away after it failed to quickly follow up the hit game, World of Warcraft, with other games that grabbed their imagination.

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Dan Nystedt

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