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Game Industry Ecosystem & Game Culture Zone in Korea

As Gyeonggi province decided to put continuous effort on e-sports and game industry, Pangyo techno valley in Seongnam City is moving toward the center of the game and content industry.

Pangyo esport Industry

Gyeonggi-do, in Korea, has a large and growing game industry. About KRW 5.997 trillion of Korean game industry sales are generated by companies based in Gyeonggi-do. The industry tends to attract a young and enthusiastic workforce, a massive and enthusiastic user base, and a thriving competitive side as e-sports popularity increases.

In 2018, Korean game market sales were estimated at approximately KRW 14.29 trillion; since 2009, the market has seen continuous growth of about 10% annually. Game exports alone are doing better than the combined exports of the other content industries.

Promotion of e-sports & Game Industry in Korea(Gyeonggi-do)
Gyeonggi-do has been hard at work to promote its game and e-sports industry and will continue these efforts in the second half of the year. So far the province has expanded local e-sports capacity by supporting the construction of a new dedicated esports stadium, an esports training center, and more.

In order to foster the e-sports and game industries, Gyeonggi-do is researching strategies to promote four areas: game culture, e-sports, corporate development, and exhibitions.
Pangyo game industry
Esport academy will be completed by 2021
ⓒ GGC

The Gyeonggi Provincial Government will complete two e-sports training centers for amateur players and provincial residents by 2021 in addition to an e-sports academy to train talented players. The province is also planning to secure its place as a globally recognized e-sports center by hosting domestic and international competitions as well as related events.

Furthermore, subsidies will be made available for game activity clubs, including company, school, and other game clubs, so as to create an active and lively e-sports environment that welcomes all local residents including families, military personnel, and other groups.

As for the companies, the province will nurture small and medium-sized game enterprises with a particular focus on mobile game companies. To that end, 15 companies that have completed the Gyeonggi Game Academy start-up program will receive a game start-up support package of up to KRW 100 million over a three-year period.
gyeonggi-do game industry
Export consultations for small-medium game enterprises
ⓒ GGC

It’s also important to help smaller companies with overseas sales. Gyeonggi-do will actively utilize online tools for marketing, export consultations, and more so as to overcome limitations stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the province plans to expand exports to overseas game markets from 6 to 10 countries by 2022.

Concurrently, a healthy gaming culture helps eliminate negative views of the industry. To this end, the provincial government will create a counseling center, dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of game addiction. Gyeonggi-do will also support counseling and medical expenses of up to KRW 1 million for local residents in need of such services. Suwon Hospital, the Gyeonggi-do Medical Center, and Uijeongbu Hospital are designated as game addiction treatment institutions.
Promoting a healthy game culture also requires game literacy; accordingly, game literacy education will be provided through the lifelong learning service GSEEK.

Pangyo at the Heart of the Game Industry
Pangyo Techno Valley has been a hot bed for growth of the Korean game industry since 2004. Considered by some to be the Korean “Silicon Valley,” Pangyo Techno Valley is located in Seongnam City, Gyeonggi-do, immediately south of Seoul. Seongnam is implementing projects to promote the game industry, including the construction of an e-sports stadium as well as a special game content and culture zone.

Pangyo offers benefits such as a wide variety of agencies that support or aid ventures and game companies, including the Gyeonggi Content Agency, the startup campus in Pangyo Techno Valley, the Global R&D Center, and the Yozma Campus.

Sampyeong Esports Stadium
Sampyeong Esports Stadium to be constructed by 2022
ⓒ성남시청

Perhaps one of the most well-known undertakings so far has been the construction of a new e-sports stadium in Sampyeong-dong, Pangyo Techno Valley, which is set to open in 2022. This 400-seat stadium, constructed at a cost of KRW 29.6 billion, covers 6,959 square meters.

The Sampyeong stadium will have a main stage with 400 seats, a smaller stage with 50 seats, a studio, editing facilities, broadcasting coordination facilities, a press room, and a game addiction counseling center. Outside, the stadium will feature a large 12-by-25-meter media wall for 1,500 spectators. Seongnam will be the second Korean city to have two or more e-sports stadiums.


Pangyo Game Culture Zone
Forty percent of Korean game companies are located in Pangyo Techno Valley, including some big names such as Nexon, NCsoft, Kakao Games, Smilegate, and more. As a result, various game-related events are held in the vicinity.

Seongnam City is working to create a Game and Content Culture Zone this year. Once completed, it will help the local game culture to flourish. For example, it’ll be much easier to hold street events when hosting game festivals or during e-sports events.

The city plans to foster the game industry in cooperation with the Korea Total Economic Institute (KTEI). This includes a KRW 1.9 billion investment for the creation of a game-themed street in Pangyo Techno Valley by the end of 2023. The planned street will feature games and gaming culture sculptures, special lighting, and hands-on experience facilities.

Seongnam City hopes that this project will increase the number of game and technology visitors through its proximity to the Sampyeong-dong esports stadium.

In addition, Seongnam hosts Indie Craft, a Korean indie game festival with an open competition for indie game makers. The Indie Craft festival was created to help foster the growth of the indie game scene and promote the production of creative games by diversifying the landscape.

It is expected that Pangyo’s designation as a special zone will make it easier for companies to secure talented personnel with additional benefits pertaining to the management of foreign employee visas. With the right workforce, Seongnam will have the power to become a center for games and gaming culture.

Challenges
Seongnam has embarked on an ambitious project and, naturally, there will be challenges to overcome.

To start, there are infrastructural improvements that the province and the city will have to work on. For example, there are no universities in the vicinity of Pangyo Techno Valley. Institutes of higher education assure that the high-tech clusters can access an outstanding workforce and also collaborate in inter-institutional research.

In addition, there’s a lack of housing suitable for young professionals who could be driven away by high housing prices. Currently, less than 30% of the Pangyo workforce live in Seongnam; the majority have to commute from Seoul and surrounding areas.

In addition, last year Nexon closed down its Nexon & Partners Center (NPC) startup support program after seven years of operation. The closure of this popular program was sad news for the gaming industry. NPC provided startup support to address different business needs such as working spaces, financial support/investment, and publishing. NPC was considered a successful venture start-up support program and, while in operation, supported more than 80 startup companies.

To pave the way for a vibrant game industry and become a mecca of gaming culture, Seongnam and Gyeonggi-do will actively engage in research, planning, and the implementation of related policies and projects.

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Gyeonggido-Korea: Game Industry Ecosystem & Game Culture Zone in Korea
Game Industry Ecosystem & Game Culture Zone in Korea
As Gyeonggi province decided to put continuous effort on e-sports and game industry, Pangyo techno valley in Seongnam City is moving toward the center of the game and content industry.
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