Tracing the Growth of Gaming in APAC Post 2021
The gaming industry in Asia-Pacific has seen significant growth over the last 18 months. The APAC region already makes up for 49% of the global consumer spending on games with China, Japan, and South Korea making up for three of the top four global gaming markets by consumer spending. Moreover, the region is expected to have 55% of the players from across the world with 1.62 billion gamers, up from 1.2 billion gamers in 2019.
To help game developers gain insights into what lies ahead in APAC’s gaming landscape, Google commissioned leading games analytics experts at Newzoo to research the forces that were shaping gaming markets in mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India. The research focused on players in the Asian gaming market between the age of 18-65.
The differences in regulatory requirements, economies, internet infrastructure, technological savviness, and accessibility play a critical role in the diversification of the APAC gaming landscape. However, there are three broad themes that were found to be consistent across the APAC markets, and can, therefore, be leveraged for growth.
1. Gaming Has Emerged As The New Social Media
APAC’s leading game markets have laid the foundation for social features in games, such as leaderboards, in-game communication, and player versus player (PvP) modes. New players are more inclined towards using all social platforms in the future apart from meeting up to hang out in these virtual spaces. Returning players also say that they would continue using social media despite high interest in virtual hangouts in games, which matches new players’ interest.
With the emergence of the metaverse, game developers have another big opportunity to shape the creative and social experience for an already receptive audience in virtual gaming worlds. They can also team up with local brands, leverage locally popular IP, and host the right artists, which is a critical aspect of success.
Other than that, it is also important that brands localize their content to individual markets in a region that is as diverse as the APAC.
2. The Rise of Console Gaming
Apart from Japan, console gaming in Asia has never quite reached the potential that it has in non-Asian markets. Console’s player share is still smaller than mobile and PC, with the lowest number of people who call it their most preferred platform of the three major gaming platforms.
Since consoles were banned in mainland China between 2000 to 2014, they never really took off. Moreover, the local preference for online competitive games never matched the single player-focused titles that drove console sales in South Korea.
Consequently, neither South Korea nor mainland China had any installed base that could attract major investment from the three main console developers.
However, a major behavioral shift was observed during the pandemic with Nintendo Switch’s popularity disrupting this mismatch. The partnership between Tencent and Nintendo to launch the Switch made Nintendo’s console and games legally available in mainland China.
The interest in consoles in South Korea was boosted by the launch of PlayStation5 and Xbox Series XIS as the pandemic pushed a majorly mobile gaming community towards a more polished experience provided by consoles. Players observed over 42% increase in console gaming activity after February 2020, which is expected to grow further by more than 21%.
Therefore, game developers need to reimagine the gaming experiences to attract mobile gamers to try new games or replay their favorite games, although in new and immersive ways.
3. Mobile Gaming Will Continue Ruling APAC
The share of mobile gaming in APAC is larger than anywhere else in the world. This could be because of the high mobile penetration rate across the Asia Pacific and its high usage as a major gaming device. For instance, 92% of players in Vietnam and 90% of the players in India use mobile as their primary gaming device.
The base for mobile players continues to increase also because of pandemic-related reasons such as the closure of PC cafes. This is likely to have benefitted mobile gaming as, despite the inclusion of almost 1.2 billion mobile players by the end of 2019, the base for mobile players expanded during the pandemic. While mobile gaming saw the inclusion of 5% new players, it saw 13% of the players returning to mobile games.
Any monetization strategy for mobile gaming in APAC must take into consideration the wide variety of markets and players. Due to the domination of free-to-play games in mobile gaming, giving players a wide range of options for items to purchase would help in the conversion of players into payers.
The unique circumstances created by COVID-19 have ushered in a new era in gaming. Virtual and digital experiences have transformed the way people connect with each other in the gaming world. But it is vital for developers to understand how preferences change in different markets. Gamers are increasingly demanding richer, and immersive experiences with dedicated consoles. Therefore, developers shouldn’t be afraid of branching out on their monetization strategies on mobile as gamers are quite receptive to different ways for enhancing their gaming experience.
Also, it would be worthwhile for game developers to offer mobile-like spending options as console players in the region are open to spending on a variety of add-ons. Moreover, retention is the key as new players want to explore different ways to stay and play while returning players indicate that they are likely to churn.
To delve deeper into the findings of the report, click here.