As I stepped out of the bustling Busan Bexco convention center on Thursday morning, the energy in the air was palpable, even though the weather was slightly cloudy. G-Star 2023, Korea's grandest gaming extravaganza, had kicked off, and I found myself amidst a sea of excited gamers eagerly anticipating the unveiling of yet-to-be-released games.
The scale of this year's event was truly staggering, breaking records from the past. With 3,328 booths set up by 1,037 companies representing 42 countries, G-Star 2023 was officially the largest gaming event in Korea to date, surpassing the previous record set in 2019. The who's who of the gaming industry, including local giants like NCSoft, Netmarble, Wemade, Krafton, Smilegate, Kakao Games, Pearl Abyss, Gravity, and NHN, were all present, making it a veritable gaming paradise.
Organized by the Korea Association of Game Industry (K-Games), the event's theme, "Expand your Horizons," echoed throughout Bexco in Busan, where the festivities would continue until Sunday. Despite the cloudy weather, nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the gaming community gathered to explore the cutting-edge offerings from around the globe.
Walking through the sprawling venue, it was evident that major players like NCsoft Corp., Krafton Inc., and Wemade Co. were gearing up to showcase their latest and greatest titles. NCsoft, making a comeback after eight years, promised to unveil a slew of games set to hit the market in the coming year. Among them were the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Throne and Liberty, the intriguing role-playing video game Project BSS, the adrenaline-pumping third-person shooter LLL, and the action-packed battle brawler Battle Crush.
Krafton had a surprise in store as well, with the revelation of two new games—Dark and Darker Mobile and inZOI. Meanwhile, Wemade was set to introduce Legend of Ymir and Fantastic Baseball 4 to the eager gaming community.
Smilegate, not to be outdone, was poised to captivate audiences with the public debut of Lost Ark Mobile. The promise of new and innovative gaming experiences was enough to send waves of anticipation through the crowd.
But G-Star wasn't just about the booths and game reveals. The gaming exhibition spilled out into the streets of Busan, offering a diverse range of events. From a spectacular drone show and a mesmerizing firework festival by Wemade at Haeundae Beach to a thrilling fighting game competition at Busan E-sports Arena, the city was alive with the spirit of gaming.
Even the political landscape recognized the significance of the gaming industry. In a congratulatory video message, President Yoon Suk Yeol emphasized that the game industry accounted for 70 percent of South Korea's content exports, committing to supporting the sector to enhance its global competitiveness and become a leader on the world stage.
Culture Minister Yu In-chon echoed these sentiments during his visit to the G-Star venue, expressing the government's commitment to diversifying the gaming export market and creating a fair gaming environment for both the industry and its users.
As I left the event, I couldn't help but marvel at the scale and vibrancy of G-Star 2023. It was more than just a gaming event; it was a celebration of innovation, community, and the boundless possibilities that lie ahead in the world of gaming.