When we talk about gaming in the East, we’re usually talking about China’s rapid growth or Japan’s massive spending on smartphone games, but that ignores several other important markets in the region.
Southeast Asian countries are expected to generate $784.4 million in gaming revenues in 2014, according to market-intelligence firm Niko Partners. The six countries that compose the region include Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Out of those, Niko points to Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand as the most important in terms of games. Niko managing partner and regional analyst Lisa Cosmas Hanson says that the region is following a trajectory similar to the biggest Asian countries.
“The Southeast Asian [SEA] games market is often compared to that of China,” said Hanson. “And we can see that it is following behind China by a few years. Gamers in SEA embrace massively online battle arena [MOBA] games, shooters, and mobile games, just as they do in China. However, older Chinese gamers still embrace higher revenue generating MMORPGs, a segment that many SEA gamers shy away from.”
To succeed in these nations, it is important for developers to work with regional game distributors. Companies like Garena, OffGamers, Asiasoft, and MOL have established dedicated audiences who are more likely to give new games a chance.
Mobile gaming is also growing in Southeast Asia at a blazing rate. Niko found that only 7 percent of hardcore PC gamers in the region said they do not play mobile games. That is down from 25 percent in 2013.
Hanson predicts that Indonesia will have the fastest-growing revenues in Southeast Asia over the next five years while Vietnam will have the largest growth in the number of gamers. But developers working in both of those countries will have to work hard to make money, as the region is dedicated to free-to-play games.
“The challenge to developers is to compel an increase in the level of spending on the type of games for which Southeast Asians have shown enthusiasm,” said Hanson.
Niko Partners surveyed 10,000 gamers in Southeast Asia to get these results, and it has an 88-page report that goes in depth on the region available on its website.