|"League of Legends" and "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" cosplayers promote the 5GX Game Festival held by SK Telecom at KINTEX in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, Friday, while a visitor wearing a virtual reality (VR) headset experiences a VR adventure. / Courtesy of SK Telecom|
By Jun Ji-hye
Mobile carriers are increasing efforts to seek opportunities in the game industry in a bid to find a new revenue source amid the rapid saturation of the telecom market.
The telecom companies' attempts include introducing a "zero-rating" for game lovers and holding a game festival designed to promote their high-end fifth-generation (5G) network services.
Zero-rating is the practice of content providers offering free internet access, in conjunction with telecom companies, when customers use only specific data or access certain websites.
Under the zero-rating system, mobile carriers receive fees from content providers, not customers. The content providers get the benefit of attracting more users.
Mobile carriers are diving into the game industry based on the belief that it has infinite potential, especially in the Fourth Industrial Revolution era.
According to the statistics website Statista, global esports market revenue, which was about $493 million in 2017, is expected to reach $1.65 billion by 2020.
KT said Friday it will test a zero-rating service called "KT Play Game" for users of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 that debuted in New York, Thursday.
The service offers users free items and data when they play four popular games _ "FIFA ONLINE 4M," "Black Desert," "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" and "Overhit."
"The service is part of our special promotions for Galaxy Note 9 users," a KT official said.
The service does not require users to sign up. They can apply from Aug. 21 to Oct. 31 by simply agreeing to the terms and conditions.
The data use exemptions will be offered by the end of the year, the firm said.
The second-largest mobile carrier is expected to extend the service after looking at the results of its promotion.
The company has also signed a business agreement with PUBG, the developer of "Battlegrounds," to promote its 5G service scheduled to begin in March next year.
Under the agreement, KT is planning to broadcast esports while jointly holding a mobile game competition with PUBG, a subsidiary of Bluehole.
For its part, SK Telecom, the top mobile carrier, began the 5GX Game Festival at Kintex in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, Friday, for a three-day run.
The festival offers various experiences to visitors, including a virtual reality (VR) adventure in which they wear VR headsets to view esports. Visitors can also enjoy multiplayer online role-playing games utilizing the firm's 5G technology.
"We hope visitors can experience the value of 5G during the 5GX Game Festival," an SK Telecom official said. "We will continue to present the future vision of 5G with our 5GX brand."
The company also has been testing the zero-rating by not charging users playing the "Pokemon Go" game since last year. The firm said it will continue the service.
LG Uplus, the smallest player, held a VR game expo during the Mobile World Congress Shanghai in June, in cooperation with Chinese VR game company Battle Times.