Korea’s E-Sports Industry Trends in 2020
The E-sports Industry is a thriving one on a global scale and it has been included into the 2022 Olympic Games as a medal event. We are familiar with the world’s most famous athletes such as Lionel Messi or LeBron James, but have you ever heard of Faker or Bengi?
No other country boasts of more professional e-sports players than South Korea. In South Korea, these individuals hold a celebrity status for their gaming abilities. Faker broke records when he was proclaimed as the first professional e-sports player to make over $1 million.
In 2019, the e-sports industry in Korea was estimated to be worth 139.8 billion Won (approximately $127 million) and an upward trend has been happening every consecutive year for the past six years.
Keep reading to learn about the titan industry of e-sports that makes up a significant share of South Korea’s GDP.
1. An Upward Trend of Korea’s E-Sports
The size and value worth of the E-Sports Industry have effectively doubled since 2015 from $65.8 million to $127.2 million in 2019.
Expansion has also been an area of target focus, with a bulk of spending going towards broadcasting sales and funding for e-sports teams. In Korea, many high level corporations have their own e-sports teams such as SK Telecom T1 or Samsung Galaxy.
2. Investment in E-Sports
Investments have risen significantly since 2016, as the industry grows to cater to its overwhelming popularity. In 2016, the industry had spent $29.4 million on investments, compared to that of $55 million in 2019.
Out of the $55 million spent in year 2019, the 61.7% of investments were for Broadcasting/Tournaments, 17.4% for Infrastructure, 12.2% for Player/Teams and 8.7% for “other.”
3. Age Distribution of the Professional Players
The most common age group of surveyed e-sports players was the “20–21" and “22–24” age group. Most pro gamers train when they are teenagers, largely attributing to the fact that they don’t have any other time to do so.
Most other student ages in Korea are busy studying for the national college entry exam or Suneung, that they do not have time for playing games — at least not on a professional level.
For this reason, a student who opts out of studying to play games instead can be viewed negatively often times.
4. Salary Distribution of Professional Players
When examining the amount of salaries of Korea’s pro-gamers, the majority were earning less than $18,200 per year; below an average livable salary.
This chart highlights the competitive nature of the E-Sports Industry, with only 0.7% earning more than $455,000. For those wanting to attain a celebrity gamer status, the journey to become so is long and difficult.
5. Viewing Trends of Korean E-Sports
The next three charts examine the viewer trends of Koreans who watch e-sports. This data was taken as a nationwide survey of men and women over the age of 18 who play games.
A dedicated group of 10.5% watch e-sports almost daily, while 24.8% watch it less than once a month.
“One hour” was the most common time spent watching e-sports for both the weekdays and the weekends. A small but considerable percentage spent over 5 hours watching e-sports daily.
The evening time around 9PM-12PM was the most common time that Koreans watched e-sports on the weekdays and the weekend. A considerable portion of the persons surveyed also watch e-sports at 6PM to 9PM.
The E-Sports industry in Korea is continuing in a seemingly unstoppable upward trend — viewership time is increasing, and the audience are getting larger and more diverse. Top players are becoming well-known celebrities earning millions of dollars.
Due to growing popularity, e-sports has a powerful impact to brands’ visibility. Therefore, it has caught the eyes of many corporations and buyers alike. Korea’s top brands have made considerable contributions to various e-sports teams. Brands from technology to beauty should consider marketing via e-sports as a way to increase growth in the upcoming decade.
If you are interested in playing some of the most popular e-sports games in Korea, check out: Battlegrounds, League of Legends, Overwatch and Fortnite.
To know more about Korea’s industry trends and marketing techniques, go to the AJ Marketing Blog.