Southeast Asia’s gaming industry is on a growth trajectory, and here’s why

Gaming revenue is increasing year after year across the region and Southeast Asia is one of the most attractive markets for developers, publishers, and users

The digital gaming industry is expansive and still growing in different directions. What used to be limited to traditional games has evolved into gamified experiences and applications, esports, wagering sites, virtual reality and blockchain protocols that remove most of the risk of digital commerce within gaming platforms and eliminate any unnecessary costs along the way. Additionally, the overall user experience has improved drastically as a result.

In Asia, this represents a massive market change. According to a recent report, China is the single most important market in the world for PC online and mobile games. In fact, the gaming market in China is expected to grow from $27 billion in 2017 to $35 billion in domestic revenue by 2021. To no surprise, Tencent is currently dominating the market.

In Southeast Asia the market is also gaining momentum as PC Online and mobile gaming revenue hit over $2.2 billion in 2017 with expectations that it will reach over $4 billion by 2021. The number of PC online and mobile gamers in SEA is projected to reach 300 million by the end of 2017, rising to more than 400 million by 2021.

This is massive in a market where gamers tend to download games directly from game makers and third-party Android markets.

Reasons Why Southeast Asia will Flourish

In Southeast Asia, online and mobile payments are still on a steady rise with online transactions expected to grow by 25% in the following years. Also, gaming will experience a large hiring boom in the upcoming years in the region. Tencent estimates there are currently 50,000 people working in the esports industry and that the industry could support another 210,000. While this figure represents the Chinese opportunity, the popularity of esports in Southeast Asia will likely lead to similar growth.

With the rise of talent, resources, and attention comes more innovation from companies looking to add value to the space. For example, JoyToken is allowing independent developers to utilise blockchain technology to eliminate middlemen in the online casino space. By utilising a series of smart contracts, the tokenised experience will allow players to place tokens in a game’s smart contract directly, bypassing unnecessary intermediaries.

In October, gaming giant Garena (now Sea) went public and raised $884 million in an initial public offering for its PC and mobile gaming operations. This shows just how massive of an opportunity there is and the significant amount of resources being dedicated to capture this market share.

Also read: Southeast Asia is a blue ocean for Chinese gaming firms: report

On the mobile side, Southeast Asia has always been an attractive market for Chinese gaming firms, especially given the ease of entry compared to other markets. Coupled with the fact that Southeast Asia is the fastest growing regional gaming market, we should expect to see more and more companies from western markets, China, and within Southeast Asia drive innovation in the space.

Which Markets Will Thrive the Most?

The good news is that gaming revenue is increasing year after year across the region and Southeast Asia is one of the most attractive markets for developers, publishers, and users.

Thailand and Indonesia make up the two biggest markets, followed by Singapore, amounting to a multi-billion-dollar market opportunity for new entrants.

According to a 2014 study by Newzoo, Thailand is the most profitable mobile gaming market in Southeast Asia, generating $230.3 million in revenue in 2014. Of 14.7 million mobile gamers in the country, over half of them (8.3 million) are paying to play. It is important to note that since this study, the market has almost doubled, so these figures could be understated.

As a region, Asia Pacific made up 47% of the global market in 2016. It is estimated that APAC brought in $51.2 billion in revenue in 2017, twice that of the second biggest market in the United States. For publishers, this market is not always as easy as it may appear. Precise localisation is needed across the region to target different languages and even preferences from country to country.

As credit card penetration and mobile usage rates continue to rise, we can expect the market to grow and continue on an upward trajectory.


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