Korean iOS users are finally in the game

The South Korean government lifted content restrictions on games for smartphones in July, and it has taken Apple until now to get its iOS App Store ready to offer games there.

Apple on Wednesday began offering games in its South Korean iOS App Store. The change came several months after the Korean government lifted restrictions on content in some smartphone games. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

After more than two years of suffering without titles like Angry Birds and Air Penguin, South Korean iOS users are finally getting to join in on the fun.

That's because Apple on Wednesday began including games in its South Korean iOS App Store, a change that came several months after the July decision by the Seoul-based Game Rating Board to relax rules governing violent and sexual content.

Because of those restrictions, both Apple and Google had declined to include games in the Korean versions of their app stores, meaning that owners of iOS and Android devices in that country couldn't enjoy games, even those designed in South Korea.

But "on July 6, South Korea scrapped those rules, [a move] which could lead to a big boost for game producers," Bloomberg Businessweek wrote in July. "Interest in gaming is so high in the country that there are professional leagues for online game players, and local cable TV channels offer live broadcasts of the virtual tournaments. The country of 49 million has 14 million smartphone users, according to the Seoul brokerage Hanwha Securities. The government expects sales of mobile games to exceed...$333 million next year, up 36 percent from 2009--and that doesn't take into account the rule change."

But if the rules were changed in July, why has it taken until the beginning of November to get games into the iOS App Store? According to someone with direct knowledge of the situation, it's because it took several months for Apple to align its store with the rule changes and to make sure that games in the store meet the ratings board's ongoing requirements. And because Apple wants to make sure that games now on the store meet the ratings board's approval, not all games in other countries' App Stores will be available to South Koreans.

Of course, while South Korean users had been restricted from downloading games from their own country's iOS App Store, some had figured out that they could get Angry Birds and other titles onto their iOS devices by logging into another country's App Store.

 

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