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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, it is an affordable and popular way to use high-end PCs. However, the PC bang industry was severely affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The share of gamers who visited PC bangs dropped in 2020, before halving again in 2021. Accordingly, the sales revenue of PC bangs was expected to decrease in 2020, though forecasts for the succeeding years are more optimistic.

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 September 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 around 60 percent of South Korean gamers engaged in PC gaming, the vast majority 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 games in eSports in South Korea is Arena of Valor, as the size of prize money awarded for winning these tournaments indicates. The mobile gaming trend is unlikely 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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