A Korean game company has obtained a license from the Chinese government for a mobile game ― the first time for a Korean firm in nearly four years.
The move is seen as a signal that domestic companies could get the opportunity to export their games to China.
China's National Press and Publication Administration issued the license to the local game company Com2uS, Wednesday, for "Summoners War: Sky Arena."
Com2uS said the company applied for the license with the Chinese regulator in 2016.
Released in 2014, "Summoners War: Sky Arena" is one of the company's most popular mobile games, generating over 80 percent of its profit in overseas markets.
Korean game companies have been blocked from exporting their games to China since March 2017, when Beijing stopped issuing licenses as part of its retaliation for Korea's deployment of a U.S. THAAD missile defense system.
China has the world's largest game market, amounting to about 40 trillion won ($36.5 billion).
Industry officials here said the latest move could be a signal that Korean game companies can now enter the Chinese market, but it remains to be seen whether the Com2uS case is a one-off event.
"Receiving a license from the Chinese government is definitely good news for the local game industry, which has been struggling with business for years. However, we need to take a cautious approach to the matter as this could end up as short-lived," an official from the Korea Association of Game Industry said.
Even though China has been in a trade dispute with the U.S. for years, the Chinese regulator has issued new licenses to games made by U.S.-based companies, while rejecting Korean game companies.
Industry officials said while local game companies were blocked from exporting games to China, Chinese firms are increasingly making money here.
According to a report on China's game industry by the Chinese Game Publishers Association Publications Committee (GPC), Chinese game companies had sales of $11.59 billion in overseas markets in 2019, a 21 percent increase year-on-year, with $1.65 billion of that in Korea.
Korea accounted for 14.3 percent of the sales to become the third-largest export market for Chinese firms. The United States was top with 30.9 percent while Japan was second with 22.4 percent.
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