South Korean online game developer seeks to boost global esports business
US$45 million to strengthen investment from just hosting contests to fostering new gamers and teams
By Yoon Sung-won
South Korea’s Eyedentity Entertainment launched an integrated e-sports business brand “World eSports Games & Leagues” (WEGL), Wednesday, seeking to combine gaming contests and entertainment.
The company said it plans to extend the range of its esports business from just hosting contests to fostering talented professional gamers and building new stadiums for competitive events.
“We will strengthen investments in e-sports and pour about 50 billion won (US$44.59 million) into this business,” Eyedentity Entertainment CEO Guo Haibin said at a press conference in Seoul. “We plan to spend the money in building new e-sports arenas and fostering new professional gamers and teams.”
According to Eyedentity Entertainment, the global esports market grows by 40 per cent every year. In particular, Korea and China together hold a 23 per cent stake of the global esports market.
The CEO said the company wants to play a key role in improving the relationship between Korea and China through cultural exchanges in the private sector.
Rep. Kim Byung-kwan of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea also said he expects the launch of Eyedentity Entertainment’s global esports business will contribute to the recovery of Sino-Korean ties.
“The exchange of gaming culture between Korea and China has slowed down with the Chinese government’s drive to exclude Korea’s culture industry since the deployment of the U.S. missile defence system here,” the lawmaker said. “I hope the WEGL esports events will improve the relationship between the two countries.”
In March, Eyedentity Entertainment changed its name from Eyedentity Mobile to better concentrate on esports and the entertainment business. Eyedentity is a subsidiary of Actoz Soft, which is a Korean arm of Chinese game giant Shanda.
To meet diversified demands of esport fans, the company plans to introduce four types of WEGL events ― Premier, Game Star, Super Fight and Nations.
WEGL Premier is a regular esports contest with league and tournament systems. The company will hold two WEGL Premier events this year and plans to host the finals in mid-November.
WEGL Game Star will be organised as a combination of a survival audition show and a gaming contest. In this programme, the company will draft new gamers and train them for survival matches. Winners of this programme will be part of a new professional gaming team.
Based on the free game system of mixed martial arts competitions such as Ultimate Fighting Championship, WEGL Super Fight will introduce diverse types of matchups between professional gamers such as rival matches and title matches.
“The WEGL programmes will not be just about brand marketing events for enterprises,” Eyedentity Entertainment Vice President Bory Jun said. “We will push to discover talented new professional gamers and foster them for global competitions. We will also support amateur-level gamers and female players.”
Jun said the company is currently in discussions with game providers and broadcasters to launch esports contests for popular games such as “League of Legends,” “Overwatch,” “Hearthstone,” “Starcraft” and “Street Fighter.”
On Wednesday, Eyedentity Entertainment also signed an agreement with the organising committee of Busan Indie Connect Festival to establish an esports market environment for indie games. The festival is the largest indie game fair in Korea.
“Korea’s esports market has been only about a limited number of popular games. In this way, entertaining games on a smaller scale have difficulties in being played as esports events,” said Tim Seo, Eyedentity Entertainment’s new business team head. “With the WEGL programs, we seek an open platform.”