Monday, 1 March 2021
Two South Korean technology companies are borrowing from mobile gaming to shake up - and dominate - Japan's storied manga industry, a plot twist that has expanded the comics' fanbase to a new generation of readers.
Piccoma's third-quarter transaction volumes more than tripled year on year to 11.6 billion yen ($110 million), extending a wave of online manga sales that has already seen digital surpass print in Japan's $5 billion manga industry.
Line Manga, now operated by SoftBank's internet business Z Holdings, saw transaction volumes jump by a third to 8.2 billion yen in the same period. Naver declined an interview request.
Piccoma passed Line Manga to become last year's top-grossing manga app on both Apple's IoS and Android. Its rise can be traced back to 2016, when it introduced a revenue model it calls "zero yen if you wait."
The app's manga tales - from classroom love stories to supernatural horror - are serialized. Users must wait for a timer to unlock the next instalment, or pay to read ahead.