The most important thing in the game business is the game developer. However, it is not easy for game developers to do everything necessary in the game business.
There are some companies in the game industry that do things that are difficult for game developers to do. For example, quality assurance (QA) work and localization work required for overseas release.
In Japan, where the game industry is more advanced than South Korea, there are companies that specialize in this kind of work. The most famous company is DIGITAL HEARTS. DIGITAL HEARTS has cooperated with many major game companies in last 20 years. And DIGITAL HEARTS HOLDINGS is listed on the Japanese stock exchange.
DIGITAL HEARTS started its business in South Korea in early 2023. It operates DIGITAL HEARTS Seoul as a branch office in South Korea. GAMEVU met with Hyangsook Choi, CSO (Chief Strategy Officer) and Eunji Yu, CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of DIGITAL HEARTS Seoul to hear about DIGITAL HEARTS’s business and future strategies.
Q : Please introduce DIGITAL HEARTS.
CSO Choi Hyang-sook (Choi): DIGITAL HEARTS was established in 2001 with the slogan of 'Save the Digital World'. Right after the company was established, it did debugging business. And now DIGITAL HEARTS provides a wide range of services such as localization, QA, CS and global marketing. About 8,000 testers of various levels are registered in DIGITAL HEARTS. There are about 13 locations in Japan where testing is possible.
Since Digital Hearts has been operating for over 20 years, its market share in Japan is overwhelming. We work with famous game companies on console and mobile games. A few years ago, Digital Hearts also started a marketing business. In other words, Digital Hearts is a company that supports almost all aspects related to games.
Q: In which countries are you operating?
Choi: The Entertainment Division, which is in charge of the game business, has offices in the USA, Shanghai, Taipei, and Seoul. Other divisions have offices in Europe and Southeast Asia.
Q: What kind of business does DIGITAL HEARTS Seoul do?
Choi: DIGITAL HEARTS Seoul reorganized in January 2023, focusing on the marketing organization. Currently, DIGITAL HEARTS Seoul consists of a marketing organization and a debugging and localization organization. Now, it can provide similar services to its headquarters in Japan.
Main businesses are marketing and localization, user review, voice recording, video production, and IP licensing. In addition to this, when various problems arise, we provide appropriate counseling.
Q : Are each branch operating separately?
Choi: Games are often released in multiple regions. So, in most cases, each branch collaborates to meet the needs of the client.
Currently, the Chinese team and the Japanese team are working on Korean company games that Digital Hearts Seoul is responding to.
Q: There are many companies in South Korea that are doing this kind of business. What are the advantages of Digital Hearts?
Yu: Digital Hearts is a company that has been collaborating with famous Japanese game companies, so it has pride and expertise. It can be said that it is a company that has grown only through games. Digital Hearts supports debugging, localization, QA, marketing, game development support, and security services. I think Digital Hearts is a solution that can help with all the tasks that are difficult for game developers to handle.
Q: If work is conducted through the Japanese office, there may be concerns about the speed of work.
Choi: Most Japanese companies are connected to many companies, so it sometimes takes a long time, but we can say that it is much faster because we process it internally. Of course, it can be slow by Korean standards, but at least among Japanese companies, it can be said to be one of the fastest. In particular, since Digital Hearts has been involved in China-related work since two years ago, the overall speed of work has accelerated.
The Japanese head office also has high expectations for the Seoul office. So, the Japanese head office quickly handles the work requested by the Seoul office. And the work of the Seoul office is fast because we make many decisions on our own.
Q: I think Digital Hearts can develop and publish the game.
Choi: Among the affiliates, a studio called Frame Hearts is developing a game.
Q: Is there anything Digital Hearts can do to help South Korean indie game companies?
Choi: In fact, we are currently collaborating with several South Korean indie game companies. It is important for Digital Hearts to leave a success story in cooperation with small and medium game companies. The Japanese headquarters also agrees with this.
Q: There is a company in the Digital Hearts Group that operates the Japanese game webzine '4Gamer'. And Digital Hearts is also collaborating with 'GameWith'. Is it common in Japan for development support companies to work with game media?
Yu: It's not common. That's why I think Digital Hearts is special. There are many people who really like games in Digital Hearts. I think that's why this kind of collaboration was possible.
Q: Digital Hearts provides various services. Isn't it expensive?
Choi: Compared to other companies, I don't think it's particularly expensive. If you use various services of Digital Hearts, the cost of maintaining the game is greatly reduced. According to an internally generated report, one company reduced monthly expenses by more than 30% by working with Digital Hearts.
Q: Digital Hearts is preparing media and communities related to Web3 and P2E games in South Korea. How did you decide to start doing this?
Choi: With the transition to Web3, Digital Hearts also had to prepare. In this regard, the Seoul office and the Japanese headquarters held several meetings, and the Seoul office proposed this as a new business.
Q: Regulations on virtual assets are being eased in Japan.
Choi: The head office in Japan is preparing for this trend to come. Due to the nature of Japanese companies, they are watching the atmosphere rather than taking the lead. It seems to be watching until the regulations are lifted and guidelines come out. Prime Minister Kishida gave a keynote speech at ‘WebX’, a blockchain event in Japan. Many large corporations also participated in the event. The Japanese headquarters also sensed that the atmosphere is changing.
Q: What is the most difficult part?
Yu: The most difficult thing is that Digital Hearts is not a famous company in South Korea. We want to be a reliable partner that builds trust. However, when a South Korean company starts cooperation with us, most of them say, 'let's do it quickly'.
Q: Lastly, what would you say to South Korean game companies?
Choi: Digital Hearts wishes all South Korean game developers well. The Japanese headquarters has accumulated know-how in the game business for 20 years. Digital Hearts wants to grow by sharing this know-how with many game companies in South Korea.
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