Interviews & Opinion

Behind the massive rise of Busan Indie Connect Festival

Behind the massive rise of Busan Indie Connect Festival

As part of our South Korea Special, dedicated to the country's games industry, we've been profiling a select few companies and organisations from the sector.

Today we're speaking with the organiser of the Busan Indie Connect Festival, a celebration of indie developers in the country.

Prior to its formation in 2015, various meet-up events called Open Plan Day and the Indie Developer Summit would take place. There are of course other large events as well, including G-STAR.

But there was still a keenness for a large event targetted solely at indie devs. Then a few years ago the Busan IT Promotion Agency (BIPA), which heads up the city of Busan's IT infrastructure, approached what's now the BIC Festival Organising Committee to put together an event, and in 2015 the first ever Busan Indie Connect Festival kicked off.

The most recent event took place on September 13th to 16th, attracting nearly 12,000 visitors.

To find out more about the show and South Korea's indie games scene, we spoke to the event's director Dustin Lee. How successful was the most recent event?

Dustin Lee: We started with a small number of attendees. The first BIC in 2015 ended with 2,380 visitors,
but the 2016 show ended with 6,391 attendees, an increase of 169 per cent from the first year.

For the first two years, we opened up to the public with free tickets for Busan citizens, since we were not sure we could make a successful event with only indie games.

After the second BIC event, we decided to change to a closed event for gamers only and began to sell tickets to those who love indie games. It was a big decision for us.

But we found out there are many indie game fans in Korea. We were happy to see many indie game players who would play these titles while also giving nice feedback to exhibitors.

The third year of BIC (2017) ended with 10,273 attendees. Our decision was successful not only due to the numbers, but we also got good feedback from exhibitors and attendees and this year (2018) we hosted 11,797 attendees.

The full story is over on

Join Steel Media and Jagex Partners to explore the Korean market first hand at G-STAR, the biggest games conference in the region. We're running the finale of the Big Indie Awards, two Big Indie Pitches and a PG Party in association with, Jagex and G-Star, whilst Jagex is launching its Jagex Partner program, looking to connect with developers and publishers in the 'living games' space.

This article is part of our South Korea Special running all through this week.

Head of Content

Craig Chapple is a freelance analyst, consultant and writer with specialist knowledge of the games industry. He has previously served as Senior Editor at, as well as holding roles at Sensor Tower, Nintendo and Develop.