South Korea, the hub for developers, games, and gamers, is rightfully among the top 3 global esports markets in the world. eSports are associated with different video game genres, with the most popular being first-person shooters, real-time strategy (RTS), fighting, multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), and others. According to our research, South Korea stands as a video gaming powerhouse, having hosted many of the biggest and richest competitive gaming events, where eSports gamers are treated with similar fame and recognition accorded to professional athletes. The 18-34 age group has the highest exposure to eSports viewership, and those in this age group are more likely to be regular viewers. A significant number, or around 71% of survey respondents in South Korea, have watched a good variety of different eSports online, with the viewing of professional gamers outside of competitions being less popular. The viewing trends in South Korea mirror those in China, with around 58% of the respondents having watched a gaming tournament or competition that was streamed online live. Some, around 54%, have watched professional gamers' games outside of competitions online live, and around 57% have watched recorded gamers' games online. In South Korea, approximately 32% of respondents spent 2 hours or more watching professional gamers play outside of competitions that were streamed live online. Respondents from South Korea are active participants in eSports, with around 16% of respondents having taken part in an international gaming tournament and around 20% having taken part in a domestic gaming tournament. South Korean streaming sites include Youtube, aFreecaTV, GOM, Twitch, and many more. YouTube is clearly the favourite streaming service for around 62% of respondents from South Korea. Around 31% of respondents from South Korea prefer a mobile device to watch others play video games, and around 57% will use a mobile device to play video games online. League of Legends, Overwatch, and Starcraft are the most frequently watched games, with around 16 percent, 14 percent, and 13 percent of the respondents, respectively, choosing these games in South Korea. According to the research report "South Korea eSports Market Overview, 2028," published by Bonafide Research, the market is expected to add USD 226.11 million by 2028.Streaming is expected to dominate the segment share during the forecast period. The growing emphasis on fan engagement is likely to fuel demand for live sports events. Furthermore, the rise in smart phone users is expected to fuel demand for live sports tournaments. Media rights are making a significant contribution to the country's esports industry. Fans can now track live esports activity across the country thanks to easy access to communication technology. Media companies pay exorbitant fees to win the exclusive rights to broadcast live streaming of major sporting events. In recent years, the sale of broadcasting and media rights has been the most important source of revenue for most esports organizers. The revenue generated by the sale of media rights is used to fund major sporting events, renovate stadiums, and contribute to the grassroots development of esports. During the forecast period, sponsorship is expected to grow rapidly, followed by advertising. As the number of viewers grows, the sponsoring team invests in the platform to strengthen its brand image. Similarly, various gaming platforms include in-app advertisements to boost revenue generation. Currently, nearly all the major Korean companies are working successfully in the mobile market: NCSoft, Netmarble, Gamevil Com2uS, Nexon, Pearl Abyss, Kakao Games, and dozens of others. As the birthplace of esports, South Korea was among the first countries to recognise esports as a legitimate sport as well as an official job category. Since its recognition in 2000, Korea has played a formative role in bringing esports mainstream attention and regulatory approval. In May 2020, the South Korean government announced its official support for the gaming industry. It promised to increase the amount of investment, remodel gaming clubs for professional players' training, and create 102,000 jobs over the next 4 years. The government also plans to devote special attention to supporting small and medium-sized businesses. The government has helped by setting up the Korean eSports Association (KeSPA), which is the managing body for 25 eSports in the country, including StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. One of the first acts of support for esports came from Korea’s Ministry of Culture, which included sponsoring the World Cyber Game Challenge, the predecessor to the world’s first international esports competition, which took place in October 2000. The inaugural edition of the World Cyber Games was held in Seoul with a prize pool of $300,000 (£229,938), highly impressive for the time. When it comes to esports education, South Korea is again considered a highly developed market, with both high schools and universities offering esports-focused programs. To provide a systematic academic approach, the Korean esports organisation Gen.G partnered with the global education company Elite Open School in 2019 to launch the Gen.G Elite Esports Academy in Seoul. The academy offers a US-accredited education completed with a US high school diploma. The curriculum helps students elevate their skills in their respective titles of choice and prepares them for education at US universities with esports programs. Moreover, Gen.G also joined forces with the University of Kentucky and the scholar association International Studies Abroad in 2021 to launch an international esports exchange programme that offers students a four-week stay at Hanyang University or Korea University. South Korea is home to numerous grassroots esports leagues and local tournaments, alongside multiple top-tier esports tournament organisers such as ESL, Riot Games, and Ubisoft that operate regional leagues in the country. Moreover, South Korea previously hosted multiple major esports competitions, including seven editions of the IESF’s flagship global esports tournament. Some of the notable tournaments and leagues are ESL Pro Tour StarCraft II, IESF Esports World Championships, PyeongChang, the Korean Open, League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK), MSI 2022 (upcoming), PUBG Mobile Korea, Wild Rift Champions Korea (WCK), and many more. DRX, DWG KIA, Gen.G (Seoul Dynasty), KTRolster, KwangdongFreecs, Liiv Sandbox, T1, and many more are notable Esports organizations. ESports is a fast-growing market within the world of gaming, mainly driven by increasing digitalization, the growing use of smart phones, and rising awareness of gaming. Faster and better technology is opening up new opportunities, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been fueling the demand for eSports. The market is expected to grow steadily as more teams, tournaments, and companies form, creating a broad platform for sponsorship and advertisement. Due to the rising number of live-stream viewers and greater profitability, both the prize money from tournaments and the amount of money invested in different teams are projected to increase. Health and Addiction Concerns for eSports Impede the Market's Growth Gamers may experience metabolic disorders resulting from light-emitting diode computer monitors and psychological problems related to gambling addiction and social behaviour disorders. The health effects of electronic sports players have been studied, and it was discovered that they are more likely to suffer musculoskeletal injuries in the back, neck, and upper extremities. In addition, spending excessive time in front of a computer monitor can cause metabolic disorders. Most of these issues arise from sedentary lifestyles and poor posture, which are common among these players. Furthermore, the introduction of electronic sports college scholarships is a source of concern, as young people can now justify their excessive use of games as being the next electronic sports stars, even if their chances of becoming the one are extremely slim. Considered in this report • Geography: South Korea • Historic year: 2017 • Base year: 2022 • Estimated year: 2023 • Forecast year: 2028 Aspects covered in this report • South Korea esport market with its value and forecast along with its segments • Various drivers and challenges • On-going trends and developments • Top profiled companies • Strategic recommendation By Revenue Streams: • Sponsorship • Media Rights • Merchandise & Tickets • Publisher Fees • Digital • Streaming By Device Type: • Mobile (Smartphone, Tablet) • PC (Laptop, Desktop) • Gaming Device (Console, Handheld Devices) • Other (VR, Smart TV, etc.) The approach of the report: This report consists of a combined approach of primary as well as secondary research. Initially, secondary research was used to get an understanding of the market and list out the companies that are present in the market. The secondary research consists of third-party sources such as press releases, and annual reports of companies, analyzing the government-generated reports and databases. After gathering the data from secondary sources primary research was conducted by making telephonic interviews with the leading players about how the market is functioning and then conducting trade calls with dealers and distributors of the market. Post this we have started doing primary calls to consumers by equally segmenting consumers into regional aspects, tier aspects, age groups, and gender. Once we have primary data with us we started verifying the details obtained from secondary sources. Intended audience This report can be useful to industry consultants, manufacturers, suppliers, associations & organizations related to the esport industry, government bodies, and other stakeholders to align their market-centric strategies. In addition to marketing & presentations, it will also increase competitive knowledge about the industry.
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