Young mobile game makers see stock value grow

20140829_ JamesSong_KoreaHerald.jpg

Young mobile game makers see stock value grow
Gamevil CEO James Song.

A number of young entrepreneurs in their 30s and 40s in South Korea's mobile gaming industry are getting richer after hitting the jackpot with hit games.

James Song, the founder and CEO of Gamevil, which is known for its game "Air Penguin," saw his share value increase the most among mobile game developers, rising almost 200 per cent to 234 billion won (S$288 million) as of last week.

Song, 38, has a 26.41 per cent stake in Gamevil, which hit 136,000 won per share last Friday from about 45,000 won in January, according to data from the Financial Supervisory Service and the Korea Exchange.

His younger brother Jae-joon, Gamevil's chief marketing officer, also saw his stock value grow to about 9 billion won from 3 billion won in the same period.

Thanks to a number of hit games, including the baseball game "Two Outs, Bases Loaded," the company posted sales of 33.2 billion won in the second quarter, up 62 per cent from 12.7 billion won a year ago. But its operating profit fell 37 per cent to 2.2 billion won on increased royalties and other payments to developing partners and platform operators such as Kakao.

Analysts said Gamevil would likely to see its core earnings rebound as it is set to launch seven games through an integrated platform it developed with Com2us.

"Gamevil's games released through the 'Hive' platform with Com2us are expected to improve its earnings later this year," said Hong Jong-gil, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities.

Last year, Gamevil acquired a 24 per cent stake in Com2us, a mobile game developer known for hits such as "Tiny Farm," and saw its share value increase by 590 per cent to 374 billion won.

Lee Jung-woong's shares in his company SundayToz are worth 146 billion won as its stock price quadrupled over the last eight months, mostly thanks to its hit puzzle game "Anipang."

Park Kwan-ho, founder and chairman of WeMade Entertainment, saw his 46.77 per cent stake grow to 368.5 billion won in the same period. WeMade, which had a number of hit PC games, has been aggressively expanding in the mobile sector, and made a strategic investment in Kakao, Korea's most-used messenger, which also operates a gaming platform.

Other notable entrepreneurs who have increased their wealth include the Park brothers of Dragonfly and Softmax CEO Jeong Young-Won.

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