TOKYO (Reuters) – Two South Korean expertise firms are borrowing from cell gaming to shake up – and dominate – Japan’s storied manga trade, a plot twist that has expanded the comics’ fanbase to a brand new technology of readers.
Backed by tech giants Kakao Corp and Naver Corp, Piccoma and Line Manga have grow to be Japan’s highest-grossing cell apps exterior video games. Such on-line manga platforms have seen a surge in reputation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Piccoma’s third-quarter transaction volumes greater than tripled yr on yr to 11.6 billion yen ($110 million), extending a wave of on-line manga gross sales that has already seen digital surpass print in Japan’s $5 billion manga trade.
Line Manga, now operated by SoftBank’s web enterprise Z Holdings, noticed transaction volumes bounce by a 3rd to eight.2 billion yen in the identical interval. Naver declined an interview request.
Piccoma handed Line Manga to grow to be final yr’s top-grossing manga app on each Apple’s IoS and Android. Its rise could be traced again to 2016, when it launched a income mannequin it calls “zero yen for those who wait.”
The app’s manga tales – from classroom love tales to supernatural horror – are serialized. Customers should await a timer to unlock the subsequent instalment, or pay to learn forward.
Impressed by smartphone video games through which taking part in is free however additional content material shouldn’t be, the strategy marked a radical departure from the everyday mannequin of promoting a complete manga quantity up entrance at costs of $4-$6.
“We thought if we might seize 5% or 10% of the larger video games market it could drive progress,” mentioned Yukiko Sugiyama, senior supervisor in Kakao Japan’s enterprise technique division.
Readers, keen to search out out what occurs subsequent, usually find yourself paying. The enterprise mannequin has grow to be commonplace as dozens of ebook sellers, tech firms and publishers rushed to supply their very own apps.
Megumi, a 34-year-old workplace employee in western Japan, mentioned she reads 20 pages or so of manga on her telephone throughout her lunch break, and turned to the 2 apps when caught at residence caring for youngsters throughout final yr’s pandemic state of emergency.
She turned “addicted” to and paid for a success Line Manga collection, “True Magnificence”, a few younger girl whose make-up expertise make her well-liked with males.
The strip originated in Korea, the place the rise of the web noticed paper gross sales collapse, changed by smartphone-optimised comics.
Manga apps provide an unlimited again catalogue of titles and unique strips.
“You’ll be able to learn manga carrying simply your smartphone – it is useful,” mentioned Kana Misaki, a 36-year-old care employee residing close to Tokyo who reads manga “overwhelmingly” through apps.
In Japan, on-line manga is usually nonetheless formatted like a ebook, and conventional publishers are a strong pressure, with editors intently concerned in every stage of manufacturing.
Printed in black and white on low cost paper, paper manga stays reasonably priced and disposable. The trade is protected underneath Japanese regulation from books being bought for lower than their cowl worth, even on-line.
“For brand spanking new titles, paper gross sales are a lot greater,” mentioned Shu Hashimoto, an editor at writer Kodansha’s long-running Weekly Shonen Journal.
Even probably the most ardent app customers say they may purchase paper editions of their favorite titles.
“You do not know when titles will disappear from the apps, so after I need them shut at hand I purchase them,” Misaki mentioned.
(Reporting by Sam Nussey and Yuki Nitta; Enhancing by Gerry Doyle)
Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.