The total size of the worldwide gaming market is $78 billion. Only 18 percent of that is from the USA, where it totaled at $14.8 billion. As we reported yesterday, South Korea’s gaming market is worth $9.16 billion. That’s just $600 million short of China, which comes in at $9.7 billion for 2012. It is perhaps important to note that many Chinese play PC games at cybercafes, where revenue could be tricky to track. So there is a possibility that the research figure of China’s gaming revenue may not reflect the true figures. Japan, on the other hand, falls at a measly $4.6 billion.
What this data says is South Korea is by far one of the most aggressive gaming markets in the world. China’s growth, although deflated, is expected. It’s a population of more than one billion people and as the data indicates, its gaming market grew over 30 percent since 2011. Japan, with a population that is almost three times the size of South Korea with proximal smartphone and internet penetration, cannot seem to squeeze anywhere near the same amount of gaming revenue out of its population. South Korea’s gaming market, which will expect to grow a little over 10 percent by next year, is much more robust.
Although China’s market is bound to pull ahead of South Korea’s market (given projections that China will hit $12.6 billion while South Korea will hit $10 billion) next year, South Korean culture is getting way more bang for its buck. China’s growth is essentially a numbers game, but South Koreans have absorbed gaming into their culture the same way Japan has absorbed anime and manga as a respectable and acceptable part of its culture.
In South Korea, being a gamer is socially acceptable and a path to riches and sponsorship. Great gamers live a cushy life. It’s this that is key to South Korea’s success. Create a culture that makes gaming acceptable and put the money behind it, it’ll pay back exponentially. The cybercafe culture in China, although hard to track, is still not a high profile and acceptable part of mainstream culture. It remains a subculture. Until it makes that transition, it won’t grow to the same status as South Korea.
(Editing by Willis Wee)