Konami is working with Seoul-based firm NHN to develop an online version of its popular sports franchise Winning Eleven, or Pro Evolution Soccer in the West, that will debut for PCs in Korea starting next year.
Though Winning Eleven Online will appear in the Korean market first, NHN and Konami intend to secure additional licensing deals and expand the game's reach to other countries if that launch is successful. The two companies are also considering local eSports events for the title.
Several Korean developers, including NCSoft, approached Konami about adapting Winning Eleven into an online game, but the publisher chose NHN because of its development services and Hangame online gaming portal, according to a report from local newspaper Dong-a Ilbo.
The two companies have formed a task force that is designed to be similar to a joint venture, and that will make decisions independently. Together, they will build the online version for a soccer series that has sold over 70 million copies worldwide across a variety of platforms.
This isn't the first time a Korean developer has teamed up with a foreign publisher for a free-to-play soccer title -- industry news site This Is Game notes that Neowiz partnered with Electronic Arts to co-develop FIFA Online and its sequel (which generates $50 million in annual revenues).
"Korean game makers have the world`s strongest capacity in game development, but NHN is a company that has both game and portal services," says Konami VP Shinzi Enomoto. "We found it optimal in providing an online service of the game and decided to sign the contract."