Maker of Korean Hit Game Anipang, SundayToz Talks About Its Story
Korean game studio SundayToz was founded by three friends, Kevin Lee Jungwoong, Hyunsoo Im, and Chanseok Park in 2008. Not many people may know SundayToz but I believe quite a bit of people, especially in Korea, should know about Anipang which is a hit game on the Kakao game platform, commanding a combined 12 million monthly active users (MAU) for Anipang and Anipang Mahjong. SundayToz is backed by Softbank Ventures Korea and Walden International.
Founded in 2008, the founders (while each on a full-time job) met every Sunday at a place called Toz to develop social games. As the three founders established a proper company for their venture in January 2009, it became natural to name it SundayToz. Seeing the opportunity to set up a gaming empire in Korea, SundayToz started out to publish games on Cyworld App Store. Anipang was one of the first web based social games to launch on Cyworld in 2009 which saw them getting about 450,000 users. But it didn’t take off until it was on the Kakao Games platform. Angus Lau, who is the global vice president said:
While not the first game published on Kakao, we were the first to integrate Kakao’s social features and as a result, the game and its popularity spread like wildfire.
The story behind how Kakao actually got into games is interesting. Kevin envisioned that friends and family were able to play games and connect on mobile through their address book. With the rise of KakaoTalk in Korea, it became a perfect platform to realize Kevin’s vision. Kevin shared this idea with Kakao which eventually gave birth to the Kakao Games Platform. While it is undoubtedly a popular game in Korea, Anipang was also played outside of the country. Interestingly, one of the reasons why Anipang became popular outside of Korea was due to the rise of Kpop. Angus told me:
For much of last year, there was a huge growth in Southeast Asian markets and markets where Kpop was extremely popular. There were a number of Korean Kpop bands, idols, athletes, variety TV show hosts who played the game and later posted to their Twitter and in turn read by their followers around the world. The viral growth through those social media channels helped us grow organically early on outside of Korea.
Moving forward, SundayToz plans to work on new titles for KakaoTalk. For its hit game, Anipang, the team plans to go into the merchandising business in Korea and later bring it to Japan and Taiwan before looking at Southeast Asia.
On March 2013, Anipang was ranked the seventh biggest revenue-making game on Google Play by App Annie, ahead of NHN’s Line Pop and DeNA’s Blood Brothers.