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This article was published on December 30, 2011

Paprika Lab is a rare breed, a global-focused Korean startup

Paprika Lab is a rare breed, a global-focused Korean startup
Andy Tebay
Story by

Andy Tebay

Andy is an editor and content translator at VentureSquare. He has lived in Korea for over seven years and has an avid interest in technology Andy is an editor and content translator at VentureSquare. He has lived in Korea for over seven years and has an avid interest in technology and startups. You can follow Andy on Twitter or email him.

Paprika Lab is a South Korean gaming startup which has developed several mobile and social games over the past four years. The firm has targeted the global market right from the beginning with its titles, which are developed by a strong team that includes staff who’ve worked at major Korean game companies such as NCsoft, Nexon, Neowiz and NHN.

Although Paprika Lab is a game developer, that is not how it originally started out. The company’s first service — ‘FaceWorthy’ — was a social discovery network, which launched in December 2007. The site allowed users to showcase themselves by uploading photos and getting other users to vote for them. Interestingly, the site was developed with language support for Portuguese which saw it become popular in Brazil.

Focus on mobile gaming

The company then turned its focus to developing games for mobile platforms, and specifically iOS devices. In 2009, it teamed up with NeoLAB, another startup which has offices in Korea and Japan. The two companies decided to work together to build a quiz game for smartphones aimed at the Japanese market; NeoLAB provided the content while Paprika Lab developed the app. The app does not have an English name (it roughly translates to ‘Love-Attracting Wisdom 2000’)  it reached number six across of all app categories on the Japanese App Store.

Another mobile app launched earlier the same year was HenHouse: Count Attack, a simple but difficult game to test one’s reflexes by touching eggs in numerical order as they appear, in as little time as possible. Players can share their times with others around the world.

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Social gaming

As users all over the global continued to embrace social media, Paprika Lab moved into the social game space. Its most popular title Hero City, racked up an impressive 3 million users worldwide thanks to a range of social networks including Facebook, Korea’s Cyworld and Russia’s Odnoklassniki and Vkontakte.

The game sees players build their own city while taking charge of a superhero and sending him on missions to gain experience. Users can also interact with each other to form alliances and exchange gifts and ‘energy’.

Another game which the company released on Facebook, Pirate Legacy, is a turn-based RPG in which players control a pirate ship and use the help of their friends to advance in the game.

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CEO of Paprika Lab John Kim explained the company’s plan for the new year.

“We are currently preparing for our next release and recruiting more staff to work in our mobile social game team. We look forward to using our knowledge from developing web-based social games to create synergy when working on our mobile-based social games.”

Though the company has previously only developed mobile games for iOS to keep a consistent developing environment and reduce the number of versions, the company is preparing to make the move to Android to match its rapid growth.

Paprika Lab is currently working to develop a new unique game using its experience with mobile and social platforms. The company is keeping tight-lipped on the content of its new product which is currently in the closed beta stage of testing, but it maintains that the game will provide a high-quality and new gaming experience. 

Previously, things had not been easy for game developers in South Korea due to the mobile game categories being blocked over concerns about ratings. However, since the recent opening of the game category on iTunes, Korean game developers can now easily market their games to both domestic and global users.

With many Korean mobile game startups now hiring staff who have worked at major game companies, there is a high possibility that we can look forward to more exciting games appearing on the mobile market in the near future.

➤ Paprika Lab

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