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Industry Report

Industry reports, briefs issued by Samsung Economic Research Institute

e-Sports as a Growing Industry

e-Sports as a Growing Industry

LEE Ahn-Jae

Oct. 4, 2005

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e-Sports covers a big area of electronic games and tournaments played on computers as sports. As electronic matches are similar in principle to real, conventional sports games in the sense that they are all based on the idea of competition, they go under the generic term of e-Sports.

But for a growing size of younger generation Koreans, it's a new form of popular entertainment in this increasingly networked country. A single game of e-Sports can draw as many as 100,000 fans; TV channels specializing in online games command high audience ratings. Popularity of some professional gamers rivals the power of celebrity entertainers. One such gamer, Lim Yo-Hwan, boasts a fan club of more than 700,000 fans.

Korea has emerged as a global leader in this new e-Sports industry. Other countries have turned e-Sports matches into a festivity, elating gamers and fans alike. Not so in Korea. Koreans treat it as a serious business. In Korea, e-Sports matches are regularly televised, attracting a huge number of corporate sponsors and audiences. They have created new jobs such as gamers, game casters, game commentators and game cameramen recording game tournaments. Korea even hosts large-scale international tournaments like World Cyber Games (WCG) and World e-Sports Games (WEG), producing world-class professional gamers.

Even the government and political parties have shown interest in the e-Sports potential, so much so that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is investing 14 billion Won for building a stadium and other infrastructures exclusively dedicated for game matches.

Of course, Korea is not the only country interested in the growth of e-Sports. In Europe, Germany and the Netherlands are promoting it after some of their gamers won championships in global e-Sports events. Taiwan and Russia reward winners at WCG events by exempting them from military draft or decorating them with medals. China and Chile have begun to regard e-Sports with the same respect as established sports games.

The global e-Sports industry has reached the stage of commercialization with involvement of corporate and media giants. One such league, the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), has launched a world tour with a prize fund totaling US$1 million. Another such league, the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC), started in France in 2003, even holds overseas tournaments. Recognizing the growing potential of e-Sports, a few global high-flyers like Intel Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, and Hitachi Ltd., have started e-Sports marketing and support e-Sports tournaments.


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