S Korea’s mobile game market surges 24% to $4.5B in 2020

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The mobile game market in South Korea logged sharp growth of over $4.5 billion last year amid the pandemic, data showed on Thursday.

Total mobile game transactions in the country were estimated at 5.3 trillion won in 2020, up 24.3 per cent from the previous year, according to data from mobile app tracker IGAWorks based on estimated sales of Google’s Play store, Apple’s App Store and homegrown rival ONE Store.

Last year’s growth far outpaced that of 2019 when it grew 5.3 per cent from the previous year.

The data showed that Google’s Play store accounted for 77.6 per cent of total mobile game transactions at 4.1 trillion won, followed by ONE Store with 13.8 per cent and Apple’s App Store with 8.6 per cent.

ONE Store, under the country’s largest mobile carrier SK Telecom Co., saw the steepest growth in mobile game transactions in 2020 at 41.1 per cent on-year, compared with that of Google’s store at 22.6 per cent and that of Apple’s store at 16.1 per cent, reports Yonhap news agency.

The data also showed that the number of average monthly gamers stood at 26.47 million from July to December last year, with women accounting for 52.8 per cent of the total.

Racing game KartRider Rush+ was the most newly downloaded mobile game last year on Google’s Android operating system, supported by the Play store and ONE Store, with 9.2 million downloads.

The mobile game market’s growth comes as Google is set to expand its service commission of 30 per cent to all in-app digital goods purchases on its Play store in October.

The new billing policy is expected to largely impact non-game applications that had previously been able to skirt the rules.

The move has drawn scrutiny from local developers, with rival Apple reducing its standard commission from 30 per cent to 15 per cent at the start of this year for app developers earning up to $1 million a year.