(Source = Busan City) A bird eye view of Busan e-sports Stadium
"Video Game Industry in Busan Grows Together with G-STAR"
Busan Int’l Film Festival (BIFF), MARINE WEEK and AD STARS. You name it, they’ve got it. Busan is the hottest place where a series of events and festivals take place all year round. Among other things, G-STAR would be the biggest game show in Korea to stay up to date with the latest trends. The city has long hosted the event for a decade since 2009, having 689 exhibitors from 36 countries with 235,133 visitors as of 2018. The history shows an inextricable link between the game industry in Busan and the gamers’ big party, G-STAR.
The beginning of the show, however, was so small that it only had 24 businesses with 242 employees. But the scale of the event has grown up large enough to accommodate 110 exhibitors and 1,048 new workers last year.
One of main drivers turning the city into the so called sacred place for many gamers and game developers would be the robust foundation for the contents industry, which has grown exponentially for years in its quality and quantity in Korea. The annual sales figures for the market in 2000 were a mere KRW 21 trillion, but the numbers exceeded KRW 100 trillion in 2015. That’s 5 fold jump in its value. Busan is reported to have the 3rd largest market share following Seoul and Gyeonggi, and the sales/the number of businesses involved have increased for three years.
The city’s well designed infrastructure such as the Busan Culture Contents (BCC) complex or Busan Film Commission located inside Centum City, is helping improve its brand recognition as a center for the game business. Local authorities are also giving full support to the business in hopes of vigorously catching up with the latest trend of AR/VR technology, running multiple projects of the Busan VR Incubating Program and the VR/AR production center support system.
As seen from the great progress that the city has made so far, there’s no doubt that Busan has the perfect environment for game developers. Recently, the business in the city is getting more active. The number of game developers has been consistently increasing and business types or genres vary as well. Mobile games, which used to be the market dominator only a few years ago, starts to give way to other type of business now. A recent study says almost 22.3% of the market turns out to be taken up by AR/VR contents. Specifically, mobile games still account for the largest part 59.8%, classic console/video games 8.9%, publishing 8.9% and board games (tabletop games) 6.3%.
Being the very starting point, G-STAR opened up the chance for having small and large festivals that everyone can enjoy annually such as the KOREA GAME AWARDS and Asia’s biggest indie-game show, BUSAN INDIE CONNECT FESTIVAL, hosted by the Korea Association of Game Industry and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
G STA G-STAR is a short form of Game Show & Trade, All-round, which refers to the largest game show in Korea where you can keep up with up-to-date industrial trends. To compete and come close to the world’s top 3 game shows: Electronic Entertainment Expo (US E3 EXPO), Japan’s “Tokyo Game Show,” and “Gamescom” in Germany, G-STAR has begun to consolidate dozens of game shows nationwide, getting help from the public sponsor Korea Association of Game Industry (K-GAMES).
In its early stages, the show was held at KINTEX in Ilsan for four years since 2005 and was moved to Busan in 2009. This year’s show G-STAR’S G-CON X IGC will be opened at BEXCO in Busan from November 14-17, under the slogan of “Experience the New.” Surprisingly, global mobile game developer, Supercell, was named as the official sponsor of 2019 G-STAR. With high expectations that the world’s ICT giants are more likely to be adaptable to the rapidly changing 5G ecosystem, the 2019 show seems to have global tech tycoons from home and abroad; LG U+, one of 3 big telecommunications service providers, is expected to show up for the first time in Korea along with other guests including GOOGLE KOREA, X.D. Global, YouTube and the sponsor, Supercell.
Joint exhibition stands for Germany, Finland and the Republic of Malta will be newly set up this year in addition to the country pavilion for Canada and Taiwan, who have already been invited here previously.
Busan, new mecca for e-sports
Over 1,200 fans swarmed into the BEXCO convention hall to see who would be the best player of FIFA Online 4 at the final league of EA Champions Cup 2018, an e-sports event held in the city of Busan last November. Given the fact that all members of the Korean team failed to reach the final stage, the e-sports fandom isn’t that small here in Korea. It’s no longer fresh news especially at a time when the city is paying special attention to the growth of the market. Busan City has become the very first local authority among others who officially launched “GC BUSAN,” a non-professional e-sports team formed in 2016, who finally climbed up to the top at several rounds of global match; Blade & Soul Tournament World Championship and Overwatch HOT6 APEX SEASON 4 within a year from the initiation.
Furthermore, the city of Busan has become the host of 30 more e-sports events and festivals over the past five years, showing great affection towards the industry. In an attempt to take the leadership role in the global e-sports market, Busan attracted the International e-sports Federation (IeSF) into the city in 2017 and has opened the world e-sports summit meeting, the Global E-Sports Executive Summit (GEES), for 4 years since then. GEES is a platform that brings all the key e-sports stakeholders of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), 180 relevant entities, teams, institutions and research centers from 50 countries together. This year, in particular, the city of Busan and IeSF signed an MOU to reach consensus for further development of e-sports by hosting GEES 2019 and building up e-sports R&D center.
The city works a lot for the better infrastructure of e-sports. Currently, an e-sports stadium that can accommodate approximately 400 visitors is under construction. It will open in May next year. Seomyeon is the commercial center and the most crowded town with visitors who come to Busan. The place also has high density urban settlements, surrounded by lots of facilities for entertainment especially targeting teenagers and young adults. Having a floating population of over a million per day, the city is expected to show high potential for growing into a hub of e-sports, once the stadium construction is over. Busan City has already come up with the idea of an e-sports R&D center in which related research work is done and international referees/players go through training courses.
The same type of development plan worth KRW 100 billion was unveiled to establish extra towns to welcome gamers in Centum 1 district by the year 2022.
Seen from its amazing achievements and full potential for future growth, we’re looking forward to seeing the progress Busan makes as new mecca and the sacred place for games in the coming days.
Busan City, Busan IT Industry Promotion Agency, G-STAR official website
By Sohyun Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Investment Public Relations Team / Invest Korea
Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA)