COVID-19 is impacting our world in almost every possible way. Globally, within every industry, changes are occurring to keep people safe and prevent the spread of the disease. Although these changes are to protect our communities, they have also had devastating effects. Many people have lost their jobs, and the global economy is struggling to stay afloat

Yet, Southeast Asia’s e-gaming industry seems to be resilient enough to continue growing despite the present obstacles. In recent months, production lines have slowed, and there are many events cancelled due to the virus, yet gamers are still playing, and the industry is on the rise. 

E-Gaming, also known as e-sports, is a form of competition that utilises video games and generally, these competitions are held online for teams or professional players. This fast-growing industry not only serves as a form of entertainment and fosters a sense of community, but is a viable source of economic growth in the Southeast Asian region. With mobile usage in the area exploding, it is no wonder that this industry is flourishing.

Predicted growth

Southeast Asia’s economy has been thriving in a multitude of different fields, and one of the most successful has been the gaming industry. A recent report by Newzoo showed that the region’s gaming market is on target to generate over $4.3 billion USD in revenue for the 2019-2020 year. As Southeast Asia continues to have a steadily growing online population, thanks to an increased number of smartphones, its mobile games market is the fastest-growing in the world. 

Success factors

According to one report, Southeast Asia’s projected mobile game revenue is likely to surpass $8.3 billion USD by 2023. This growth will be made possible due to several important factors.

Technological developments: Developments like the “free to play option” on mobile games, as well as the creation of cloud-based mobile gaming look set to increase interest. Enhanced features, such as Augmented Reality(AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), also make the gaming world more appealing to newbie gamers looking to escape their everyday worlds. 

Mobile internet usage: As the internet economy continues to grow, more and more Southeast Asian residents are turning to their mobile phones. Additionally, in 2020, most countries there are planning to introduce 5G markets. This advancement should increase the number of mobile gamers as mobile gaming tends to be more convenient than traditional PC gaming.

E-Sports: The popularity of esports in Southeast Asia is enormous! Recently, one Singapore company developed Free Fire, one of the top battle royale games in the world. As these games grow, investor interest is likely to increase. Experts predict that the global esports market will triple by 2025, which means there will be many opportunities for growth in this sector.

English: In countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, English is one of the official languages. This familiarity with the language makes it easier to make games that can quickly enter into the global gaming market.

Government: Many ASEAN governments have provided support for the gaming industry and fostered environments that are conducive to its growth. These investments have attracted talent and made gaming education more accessible to developers.

Population Growth: As the population in the region continues to grow and mature, there are expectations that the number of PC gamers will jump from 154 million to over 186 million in the next five years.

Opportunity: Many Southeast Asian gamers have a culturally influenced preference for games that encourage community, teamwork and competition. With many of us currently practising social distancing, community focused games that foster a sense of unity, are in high demand. 

Challenges to overcome

Despite the potential for success, Southeast Asia’s gaming industry will still have its own set of obstacles to overcome. Although the market is still going strong, there is potential for COVID-19’s effect on the overall economy to negatively impact the gaming industry. Additionally, Southeast Asia’s success in the industry will rely on its ability to please global gamers as well as local gamers. That means they will have to consider using multiple languages—because while breaking into the English market, it would perhaps be an oversight to leave out local gamers who prefer local languages.

In a similar vein, developers will have to make decisions about which types of games to pursue from a cultural standpoint. And last but not least, the issues of availability and accessibility are ever-present, as gaming companies navigate different payment options and country regulations.

There is no doubt that the region’s gaming industry has much potential. Along with having a large number of gamers, the area has also managed to break into the lucrative world of mobile gaming. As their technology continues to develop, the future of e-gaming is bound to bring some exciting changes in the region.