Game Market 1983 - Chapter 64
This idea was actually conceived by the store owner himself. In 1991, a group of amateur programmers from Mintra would acquire the official license for ‘Princess Make’ from the Japanese company Kainic, and translate it into Korean.
“I have several friends who can code. Of course, they aren’t as good as you.”
Yes. I was aiming for them in the first place.
I suppressed my smile and gave my full attention to the store owner. Although Yuki couldn’t understand Korean well, she understood that we were talking about business and patiently waited for me.
“I’m interested in this concept, but there are parts that I’m concerned about.”
“What are your concerns?”
“The Korean market is the main problem. We can’t predict sales anytime soon even with a Korean version of games because the market is unpredictable.”
“I’m aware of that.”
“What software company would give us the license in this situation?”
“There will be at least one company that will.”
“It wouldn’t be easy unless they were one of the leading figures in the video game industry. What company do you have in mind?”
“Could you be talking about the Pentagon Soft that developed Final Frontier?”
“Eyy~ You must be joking. Why would a major league software company that sold over 150,000 copies in Japan and America be interested in giving a license to Korea where even 1,000 sales would be unpredictable.”
“I’m close with a high ranking executive from Pentagon.”
“Even if they were in a high position, would they make a high-risk gamble like this?”
He saw my mouth teeter upwards during the conversation and an unbelievable idea must’ve flashed across his mind as he asked.
“Are you familiar with the president?”
“Well, something like that.
I was the president…
Yuki was looking back and forth between the owner and me with curious eyes. But now the owner’s expression was turning from surprise to fear.
“You don’t have to worry about the funds. Until you start profiting from the sales, I can provide you with the money.”
“Wow. My deceased father appeared in my dreams last night saying good things will happen to me; it really came true…”
From this point on, the conversation went smoothly. The owner agreed to gather every software developer and businessmen that he knew and contact me again.
“If this works out, we will be able to acquire licenses from other companies, right? Perhaps Super Mario from Mintendo, or the Ise series from Phoenix Soft… “
“I don’t see a reason why we can’t.”
As long as one had capital, the sky would be the limit. Companies would be diving in left and right to give us the license if we offered more than the expected profits from the sales. Although this was a high-risk venture, I wanted to make this idea into reality. The various masterpieces that I had enjoyed as a child would be translated into Korean for the Korean populace to enjoy…
This little action of mine might the possibility to completely overturn the future of gaming.
“Then, what should we now?”
Nervousness and fear would follow with going out of one’s comfort zone. The owner asked me with a slightly trembling voice. In the past, the company Mintra Soft that he founded with his colleagues would disappear from the gaming industry due to illegally releasing ‘Princess Make 3’ without the appropriate licenses.
They would do whatever they could to stay afloat but eventually went bankrupt from the lack of profits. The store owner’s dream of bringing widespread recognition to masterpieces would evaporate into thin air… And I couldn’t meet him again after this incident.
I analyzed the owner’s face for awhile before opening my mouth.
“Is there something like a professional game magazine in Korea?”
“No.There is a technology magazine. But as for a game magazine…”
From what I knew, the first game magazine wouldn’t be published until the 90’s. It was still too early… Giving the customers the right information was what needed to be done.
‘Let’s start here.’
“Then we’ll publish the first dedicated Video Game magazine.”
“You meant we should start a videogame magazine instead of a game publishing company?”
“No, we have to do both. But first, we have to change the perception about games. You do something like handing games out for free when you sell your consoles, right?”
“Ah, that’s… I’m embarrassed to say this but yes. If I don’t offer any incentive, no one would be buying.”
“That’s exactly why we have to change the perspective of game consoles to a positive light. You’ll have to temporarily give up Mintra computers while we start this project.”
“Hah… This is really… I’m changing my job just like this.”
“How long are you going to be a slave to your customers and offer free games just so they would buy your product? Come establish a company with me that will be set up by the gamers, for the gamers in Korea.”
Hey, this was similar to what Steve Jobs said to the vice president of Coca Cola. After hearing my words, the owner seemed to have an epiphany.
“Keuheuk… for the gamers… Alright. If a game developer as good as you is willing to work with me, there’s no reason not to take a gamble. Anyhow, I haven’t got the slightest clue on how to start a game magazine.”
“Have you heard of Japan’s FamiTong magazine?”
“Ah, of course, I did.”
“We will model ours in a similar style to that. There will be a section about the latest news in the market, as well as the reviews for the latest games. Our main focus for the magazine will be reporting on the latest news.”
“I have one question. To establish a startup of this scale, we’ll need a sizable amount of capital and bilingual Japanese speakers to write reviews about the newest Japanese games. And we’ll also need a building to print the magazine…”
“When I return to Japan next week, I will wire you 10,000,000 Wons ($10,000) as a series An investment. You can use this money to acquire a new office and the necessary equipment for printing.”
“10,000,000 Wons!? You’re sending an enormous sum like that to me so easily. Are you not worried about me running away with the money?”
“If you run off with a mere 10,000,000 Wons when an opportunity to make a larger amount presented itself to you, your value as a human being would only be 10,000,000 Wons. It would only be a slight hindrance to me to find another person to be my business partner.”
In response, the owner swallowed and nodded his head up and down. Although I might have sounded a bit harsh, I trusted the integrity of the man I knew as a child. He was one of the last ones fighting on when his company was losing money. I will not let that happen to you again.
“If we start a new magazine, we’ll need an event to peak the interests of readers and draw them in. The PC magazine also did an event for their subscribers.”
“You possess that special ‘something’ already.”
“Me? What do you mean? I don’t have anything even remotely interesting to offer..”
“No. I just gave them to you.”
I gestured to the Dragon Emblem cartridges on top of the table and smiled.
“You will put these up as prizes to give out over the next 6 months.”
“Ah~ A brand like Dragon Emblem will definitely be able to attract gamers. And a Korean copy at that…”
“6 months later, I will have the Korean version of Final Frontier available for you.”
After hearing my words, he grabbed my hands tightly and spoke,
“Mr. Junhyuk… I will do my best!”
After a long day of discussing the specifics of setting up the business with the owner, I left Yuki in the Mintra Computer shop and headed out to meet my younger self.
As I entered through the glass door of the convenience store, I was greeted with the narrow aisles stacked full of various snacks. Amongst them were snacks that would withstand the test of time and still be in production in 2015.
Shrimp chips and ‘Potato King’... The Indian rice snack that went with milk to produce a wonderful combination, banana punch, etc… There were several that faded from my memories that I saw again as well.
‘But, nothing will beat this.’
I looked at the children’s gift sets stacked in the corner and grinned.
A lady walked into the cash register from the adjoining room as I called out.
“I’ll have the gift set number six.”
I pointed to the largest box with the most variety of snacks. It was 5,000 Wons compared to the 2,000~3,000 Won price ranges of other gift sets,
‘It’s easy to pick gifts because I know what I liked back then.”
The cashier beamed as she rang up the gift set.
“Do you need anything else?”
“Ah… do you have a pack of spam?”
“Then I’ll have the biggest pack of spam as well.”
(TL Note: Spam is considered a luxury item in Korea and is unbelievably expensive compared to America. People gift spam sets on holidays)
I remember hesitating to buy the expensive pack of spam that I would eat maybe once a year or so. This would be a great breakfast for my father. As I took out my wallet to pay, a little girl scurried into the store and grabbed a bag of Cheetos off the shelf.
“Youngnam, I told you not to touch things in the store.”
“But mom, I won the coupon for a free bag from the Cheetos bag that I ate earlier!”
‘She’s exactly the way I remembered her.’
I secretly grinned at the little Youngnam that I haven’t seen since I was a kid. A while later, after completing the transaction I ripped the rappers off and hid a Gamboy in between the bags of chips. After meticulously rewrapping the box, I prepared the spam set along with an envelope of money and a letter for my parents.
At this moment, I saw the little Junhyuk pop his head inside the store.
“Oh? Mister, you really came?”