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While South Korea already boasts widespread internet adoption, at 78% of the population by the end of 2012, according to eMarketer, young people are especially likely to be online in the country. More than half of the online population in South Korea is between the ages of 11 and 34, according to May Starcom MediaVest Group data. With such a youthful group of internet mavens, it’s no surprise that the gaming culture in South Korea is potent and growing.
An October estimate from the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) anticipated that game sales overall in South Korea will grow nearly 20% in 2012. That pace will be nearly maintained in 2013 and 2014 on the heels of mobile and internet gaming’s rise. The company defines games to include not only online games but also arcade and PC games, among others.
Online games grew by 31% in 2011, to take 71% market share that year. Despite online gaming’s well-established dominance, between 2012 and 2014, growth will continue to exceed 20% annually. By 2014, online games are expected to constitute 80% of the gaming market in South Korea.
Mobile games are poised for an even faster rise: 50% growth by the end of this year, followed by 45% growth in 2013. Mobile already plays a huge role in South Korea, with mobile ad spending comparably robust, creating a rich environment for the growth of gaming on the platform.
KOCCA estimated that in 2011 mobile accounted for 5% of the gaming market. By 2014, that share will rise to 8.5%. In total, within the next two years, gamers playing on their phones or over the desktop internet will account for nearly 90% of the total gaming market in South Korea.
Females were the most likely to say they mainly played games on their mobile devices. The proportion of the urban audience of women gamers in South Korea who chose smart devices as their favored platform was more than double the share of the male mobile gaming audience. Online dominated male preferred play, accounting for more than half of male gamers in February.
The biggest loser as the gaming market develops will be traditional video games played on consoles. KOCCA found that the market declined by 37% in 2011 and expects it to contract another 22% this year. As online games allow users to interact with other players wherever they can connect, gaming in the home on a static player will become more and more outdated.
Overall the average gamer in urban South Korea spent approximately one hour per day playing some form of game, with those between the ages of 15 to 34 playing for closer to 70 minutes per day.
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