Emergence of E-Sports as a Popular Sport at the Asian Games: Korean Companies Expanding in Southeast Asia and India

2023-10-03 09:16:20


Entered 2023.10.03 18:16 Modified 2023.10.03 18:19 Paper A2

Asian Games popular
E-sports emerges as a new industry

Korean corporate relay platform expands entry into overseas markets

AG stock adoption, increased attention
Expanding scope to Southeast Asia and seal markets

Afreeca TV, Vietnamese national broadcaster
Targeting the League of Legends broadcasting market

‘Faker’ Lee Sang-hyeok participated in the League of Legends e-sports category at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. Provided by Korea e-Sports Association “I can confidently say that League of Legends (LOL) is the most popular sport in Korea.”

On the 30th of last month, ‘Faker’ Lee Sang-hyeok, who won the gold medal in the League of Legends category at the ‘2022 Hangzhou Asian Games’, responded to reporters who asked, “Is e-sports a sport?” This Asian Games adopted e-sports as an official event for the first time in history. In this event where seven gold medals were at stake, Korea won two gold medals, one silver medal, and one bronze medal.

○Collaboration with Vietnam’s national broadcasting station

According to the industry on the 3rd, the number of companies targeting the e-sports market has increased significantly with the Asian Games as an opportunity. In this market, which is dominated by foreign platform companies such as YouTube, Korean companies appear to be directly pioneering the Southeast Asian and Indian markets and causing a local e-sports ‘boom’.

A domestic e-sports player receiving an annual salary of 10 billion won also appeared. It is known that player Lee Sang-hyuk signed a contract renewal worth 10 billion won in annual salary with T1, a club under SK Square, in November last year. He has the highest salary among professional sports players active in Korea. In April last year, a Chinese company offered an annual salary of $20 million (about 26 billion won), but the player chose to stay in T1, where he has been playing since 2013.

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This player’s stage, League of Legends, is a game that has maintained its top position in the e-sports industry for over 10 years. Not only does the monthly active users (MAU) reach 100 million, but the number of simultaneous viewers of the world competition finals exceeds 5 million. This is an achievement achieved 25 years after the domestic PC room ecosystem was established in 1998 and e-sports game competitions were held in the United States. Zion Market Research, a market analysis company, predicted that the size of the global e-sports market will grow nearly five-fold from $1.47 billion (about 2 trillion won) last year to $6.82 billion (about 9.3 trillion won) in 2030.

Domestic companies are also using Korean e-sports culture as a weapon to advance into overseas markets. Afreeca TV recently launched the ‘OnLive’ service, an e-sports broadcasting platform, in collaboration with VTV Cap, Vietnam’s national broadcaster. Vietnam has a gaming population of 20 million, but the e-sports broadcasting market is just beginning.

An official from the company said, “Last month, the number of simultaneous viewers of the League of Legends evaluation match between Korea and Vietnam, which was broadcast live in Vietnam, exceeded 20,000,” and “We plan to expand our e-sports platform business to Thailand, Indonesia, and Japan next year.” “It is,” he said.

○Krafton, India’s No. 1 in sales, goes beyond e-sports

Krafton also invested in Nordwin Gaming, an Indian e-sports company, last May. Participated in an investment round worth $28 million (approximately 38.1 billion won) along with four other companies. The company poured 25.7 billion won into this company in 2021 as well. Nordwin Gaming is also pursuing e-sports business in the Middle East, Singapore, and Turkey. Krafton also opened a YouTube and Instagram channel dedicated to e-sports in India last May.

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Krafton’s popularity in the Indian market is absolute. According to IGA Works, an app market analysis company, Battleground ranked first in sales in the Indian mobile game market on the 2nd. As Krafton has already reached the ‘top’ position in this market, it is difficult to expect explosive growth through Battleground sales alone. The background is that this company is trying to build an overseas e-sports ecosystem in connection with the popularity of games.

Other game companies are also expanding their e-sports businesses. Nexon will hold the second championship tournament of the soccer game ‘FC Online’ on the 6th. Smilegate also held a global competition for role-playing game (RPG) Epic Seven last month. An industry official said, “The e-sports platform market is a market where Korean companies can compete with large overseas streaming platforms such as YouTube and Twitch.” He added, “The process from game planning to e-sports competition management is provided to local companies in a turnkey manner. “Attempts to transplant and commercialize will increase,” he said.

Reporter Lee Ju-hyeon deep@hankyung.com

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