Sports games and sports licensing go hand in hand. You can’t imagine a sports game without real-life professionals or sports teams. EA Sports mimics the real-life sports environment.
Baseball is a popular sport in Korea along with soccer. Especially after World Baseball Classic 2009, attendance soared by 30% and set new record high above 5,920,000.
Naturally, online baseball games are also in high demand. In Korea, there are two major baseball online games; Slugger (MLB Dugout Heroes:eng) from Neowiz Games and Ma9 (aka Magumagu or 마구마구: kor) from CJ Internet.
CJ Internet’s Ma9 signed a three-year sponsorship deal with KBOP, a subsidiary of Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), and took on sponsorship of Korean baseball league for the first time as online gaming company. The league’s official name dubbed as 2009 CJ Magumagu Pro Baseball League. This was an unprecedented move from both sides and made people think twice about online games.
However, a power struggle brewed between two companies over the KBO license. Neowiz Games’ Slugger signed a licensing deal with KBOP since 2007 and had used team’s logo, mascots, and player portraits. Early this year, however, CJ Internet made an exclusive licensing agreement with KBOP as taking Neowiz Games out of competition. The odds of Neowiz Games renewing its license in 2010 look slim. In response to such action, Neowiz Games filed a complaint to Korea Fair Trade Commission and is now waiting for a result.
This is a very sensitive issue because Slugger is outdoing Ma9 in Korea. If?Slugger can’t use any real-life player portraits anymore, it will probably have a negative impact on sales.