South Korea's online game market is the most advanced in the world, and will generate nearly $5 billion in 2016 (compared to $2.7 billion in 2011), according to research firm DFC Intelligence.
DFC calls the country's market the most advanced because of its "near optimal infrastructure," which it believes is responsible for Korea's success in the online games space and in pioneering business models like free-to-play.
Key elements that make up that infrastructure include a national ID for user authentication, diverse payment methods, low-cost high-speed broadband that DFC says has almost universal penetration, dedicated eSports leagues, and cable channels dedicated to online games.
In its new The Korea Game Market
report, the group says that infrastructure will help the country's annual revenues grow by around 9.7 percent each year for the next five years, reaching almost $5 billion by 2016.
It also claims that Korea has the highest per capita spending on PC games in the world, and that similar growth will occur in other markets as broadband penetration increases (DFC estimates that Korean publishers generate 85 percent of their revenue from consumers playing at home).
DFC analyst Insun Yoon points out that there are still challenges in Korea's game market: "There is a problem with market saturation and it now takes really innovative products to standout from the pack."
The firm also points out that online games have suffered a negative stigma in the country recently due to fears of online game addiction, and the Korean government has pursued a number of new laws
to combat the issue.