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Gamers in South Korea - statistics & facts

South Korea is known for its strong gaming culture and South Korean gamers dominate the eSports scene worldwide. With the South Korean scene having a reputation of being extremely competitive, it naturally brings out the best and most dedicated players in the world. In 2020, the gaming culture in the country experienced a big change, impacted by social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. As staying at home increased, consumption of mobile and console games increased accordingly. However, PC bangs and arcades suffered large business losses due to limited business hours and decreased gamers' visits.

PC bangs

An important aspect of South Korean gaming culture is a facility called a PC Bang. PC Bangs, literally translated as “computer rooms”, have developed out of internet cafes and seem similar, but they are mostly used for gaming. Contrary to the common prejudice of gamers sitting all alone in their rooms, many PC-gamers in the country meet up in those facilities for multiplayer games. Since the hourly fares are relatively low, one of the main reasons for gamers to play at a PC bang was social interaction, especially among young gamers. However, the PC bang industry was hit by the pandemic in 2020. While an average of 30 percent of gamers visited PC bangs before the pandemic, only 21.9 percent of gamers answered that they visited PC bangs in 2020. The sales revenue of PC bangs was expected to decrease even though the overall gaming industry in South Korea grew by 9.2 percent in 2020.

The success of multiplayer games

While major technological companies started to finance the coaching of professional gamers, the KeSPA, the Korea e-Sports Association, was founded in 2000, supporting eSports in the country and even building the world’s first eSport stadium in 2005. Focusing on multiplayer computer games, two games that are particularly popular among pro gamers are StarCraft and League of Legends. As of March 2021, the leading eSports player in South Korea was Lee Sang Hyeok, going by the ID “Faker”, who won prize money totaling almost 1.26 million U.S. dollars in League of Legends tournaments. The figure excludes other sources of income of professional gamers, such as salary and streaming income.

Mobile gaming on the rise

Mobile gaming makes up almost half of the South Korean gaming industry. While PC gaming was used by around 60 percent of gamers, over 90 percent of gamers played games on their smartphones. Mobile games are on the rise for both casual, as well as more serious players in South Korea. One of the biggest emerging mobile gaming eSports in South Korea is Arena of Valor, as the size of prize money awarded for winning Arena of Valor tournaments indicates. The mobile gaming trend does not look likely to fade anytime soon, given the deeply rooted gaming culture as well as the high smartphone ownership rate in the country.

Key figures

The most important key figures provide you with a compact summary of the topic of "Gamers in South Korea" and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

Gaming during COVID-19 pandemic

Pro gamers

Interesting statistics

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Gamers in South Korea

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Gamers in South Korea - statistics & facts

South Korea is known for its strong gaming culture and South Korean gamers dominate the eSports scene worldwide. With the South Korean scene having a reputation of being extremely competitive, it naturally brings out the best and most dedicated players in the world. In 2020, the gaming culture in the country experienced a big change, impacted by social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. As staying at home increased, consumption of mobile and console games increased accordingly. However, PC bangs and arcades suffered large business losses due to limited business hours and decreased gamers' visits.

PC bangs

An important aspect of South Korean gaming culture is a facility called a PC Bang. PC Bangs, literally translated as “computer rooms”, have developed out of internet cafes and seem similar, but they are mostly used for gaming. Contrary to the common prejudice of gamers sitting all alone in their rooms, many PC-gamers in the country meet up in those facilities for multiplayer games. Since the hourly fares are relatively low, one of the main reasons for gamers to play at a PC bang was social interaction, especially among young gamers. However, the PC bang industry was hit by the pandemic in 2020. While an average of 30 percent of gamers visited PC bangs before the pandemic, only 21.9 percent of gamers answered that they visited PC bangs in 2020. The sales revenue of PC bangs was expected to decrease even though the overall gaming industry in South Korea grew by 9.2 percent in 2020.

The success of multiplayer games

While major technological companies started to finance the coaching of professional gamers, the KeSPA, the Korea e-Sports Association, was founded in 2000, supporting eSports in the country and even building the world’s first eSport stadium in 2005. Focusing on multiplayer computer games, two games that are particularly popular among pro gamers are StarCraft and League of Legends. As of March 2021, the leading eSports player in South Korea was Lee Sang Hyeok, going by the ID “Faker”, who won prize money totaling almost 1.26 million U.S. dollars in League of Legends tournaments. The figure excludes other sources of income of professional gamers, such as salary and streaming income.

Mobile gaming on the rise

Mobile gaming makes up almost half of the South Korean gaming industry. While PC gaming was used by around 60 percent of gamers, over 90 percent of gamers played games on their smartphones. Mobile games are on the rise for both casual, as well as more serious players in South Korea. One of the biggest emerging mobile gaming eSports in South Korea is Arena of Valor, as the size of prize money awarded for winning Arena of Valor tournaments indicates. The mobile gaming trend does not look likely to fade anytime soon, given the deeply rooted gaming culture as well as the high smartphone ownership rate in the country.

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