10 Facts Developers Should Know about South Korean Game Market

As of 2018, South Korean game market is estimated at $5,764M, which makes it the 4th biggest country by game revenue after China, the U.S., and Japan, according to Newzoo.

VentureBeat looks at this thriving markets and shares insights for the developers wishing to enter it.

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Historical Background

  • The gaming culture in South Korea goes back to local LAN game centers, called “bangs.”
  • MMOs are the most popular genre, with League of Legends, PUBG, and Overwatch being the top 3. Starcraft: Brood War, in the 20th year of its run, still holds its ground and occupies the 7th place in the top 10.
  • South Korea was the first country to host esports events. In 2000, Korea’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism sponsored the World Cyber Olympics.

South Korean Gamers

  • Unlike other Asian countries, South Korea is home to a more mature gamer population. The largest group of mobile gamers are 21-35 years old (19%) followed by 36-50 year olds (15%), according to Mintegral.

Mobile

  • South Korea has the highest number of smartphone users in Asia and is No. 11 in the world.
  • Two of every three devices in South Korea in October 2018 were Samsung phones. People mostly use high-end devices, with variations of Samsung Galaxy being the preferred model.
  • According to Newzoo, 53% of the country’s population play mobile games at least once a month. Mobile gaming is far more common than console (19%) or PC games (at 37%). 40% of smartphone users spent money on mobile games in 2018.
  • The South Korean mobile game market made $3.2 billion last year.
  • RPGs account for 90% of mobile game revenue. Casual games also feature strongly.
  • Local publishers, like Netmarble, dominate the market. Foreign studios that would like to enter this market need to overcome many regulatory hurdles. The most effective strategy for international companies is to target specific genres. For example, South Korean companies have traditionally focused on MMOs, so it was foreign developers that satisfied the demand for strategy games.

Summary

Korean gamers prefer local IP. However, the 4th biggest game market offers plenty of opportunities for international studios as long as they focus on trending genres and high-end technological solutions.

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