South Korea-based entertainment giant HYBE, the parent company of BTS’s management team BIGHIT MUSIC, is expanding in the games industry, having acquired a stake in developer Flint, maker of the popular Dragon Blaze game.
The news was picked up by multiple media outlets, including The Korea Times citing a press conference held on the sideline of the G-STAR gaming show at the BEXCO convention center in Busan on Saturday (November 19).
Financial terms of the transaction, including the size of the stake were not disclosed.
The investment comes as HYBE bets on the gaming business amid its push into the metaverse and visual entertainment. HYBE has a unit called HYBE IM (Interactive Media), which carries out “preemptive technological research” in games, the metaverse, AI and other fields, according to its website.
The Korea Times notes that HYBE acquired a stake in music game development company Superb in 2019.
HYBE says it will add a game development and distribution division in addition to its existing role as a record label, talent agency, music production company, event management and concert production firm, and music publishing house.
“We will achieve innovation in the game business, just as we have in the music biz.”
Bang Si-hyuk, HYBE
“Gaming is a very attractive form of content which compactly holds all of the factors of entertainment,” HYBE Chairman Bang Si-hyuk was quoted by Korea Herald as saying, adding: “We will achieve innovation in the game business, just as we have in the music biz.”
“Through the game business, HYBE will be able to provide its customers with a newer, more fun and more diverse pass-time,” the executive added.
The games to be developed under HYBE’s new gaming unit will not necessarily use artists’ IP, according to the company’s executives.
“Although Hybe’s artist IPs are important properties (of the company), we will try to showcase games that do not use them,” HYBE IM CEO Jeong Woo-young was quoted by Korea Herald as saying.
Meanwhile, HYBE CEO Park Ji-won also expressed his optimism about the company’s new venture, saying: “The successful servicing of a self-developed game, and the fact that HYBE has forayed into the publishing business, shows that HYBE, as a comprehensive entertainment corporation, is kicking off its gaming business.”
Park hinted that HYBE’s gaming unit will be integrated with the company’s other projects, saying the company is currently developing a new game that is based on artists and music, and reiterated the company’s plan to launch two new games with local game developer Macovill in 2023.
HYBE first revealed its planned launch of two Macovill games in September via a partnership with HYBE IM and the developer. The games include Project OZ (fantasy collectible RPG) and Project B (strategy simulation RPG), which according to MMO Culture, will share a same worldview with a long-term IP goal in mind.
The company has yet to disclose whether it will use blockchain technology in its games, according to Korea Herald.
“We have set up an internal group to discuss such (blockchain) issues, but we are still on the level of tackling more fundamental concerns, as the market situation is unfavorable,” Park said.
The plan marks HYBE’s latest move in the gaming industry after previously launching two games under its HYBE IM unit: “Rhythm HYBE,” and “BTS Island: In the SEOM.”
BTS Island has to date amassed 6.8 million registered users and BTS members reportedly participated in the development of the game.
The news also comes as Park recently reassured investors that the company has other revenue and growth drivers after its biggest earner, BTS, took a break from their career to embark on mandatory military service in their home country.
HYBE’s plans include expanding in at least four new markets in 2023 including Japan and the US, where it plans to focus on fostering artists the same way that K-pop artists are created, according to an earlier memo to shareholders.
Todaty’s news marks further collaboration between the K-Pop and games industries.
Com2uS, a South Korean game publisher, recently bought a 4.2% stake in K-pop company SM Entertainment for an undisclosed amount. The investment would support the game publisher’s metaverse efforts as the entertainment agency — which represents SUPER JUNIOR, Girls’ Generation, SHINee, EXO, Red Velvet, KANGTA, BoA, TVXQ!, NCT and aespa — owns an extensive intellectual property portfolio.Music Business Worldwide