The gaming industry is proving to be unstoppable, with the Global Web Index (GWI) report showing it will exceed $200 billion USD in 2023. The research covered markets in America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific (APAC) and surveyed gamers between the ages of 16 and 64.
Southeast Asia is the fastest-growing market because of eSports and revenue from in-game purchases. Many of the gaming startups in the region deploy various technologies to win over new and existing customers.
According to the GWI report, mobile gaming connects with almost every demographic and accounts for $2.5 billion USD of the $2.7 billion USD market. eSports, otherwise known as competitive gaming, is also having an impact in the gaming world, with predicted revenues for 2023 being almost $1.8 billion USD in Southeast Asia. Smartphones lead the devices used to watch eSports at 69%, with laptops coming in at 66%.
By 2024, the global eSports Industry’s market revenue is forecast to reach $1.62 billion USD. China is the largest market, with the Asian region and the U.S. next in leading the global revenue in video gaming events.
Esports goes mainstream with ONE Esports in Southeast Asia
Let’s look at the emerging startups making a difference in Southeast Asia.
Yield Guild Games (YGG)
Yield Guild Games (YGG) is a blockchain-based play-to-earn gaming platform from the Philippines. Its seed funding round and Series A funding raised $1.3 million USD and $4 million USD, respectively. Its investors are SevenX Ventures, ParaFi Capital, Delphi Digital, IDEO CoLab Ventures, and BITKRAFT Ventures.
The startup raised about $12.5 million USD recently by conducting a sale for 25 million YGG tokens. In doing so, the company can establish a decentralised autonomous corporation (DAO), where the members can use the tokens for public trading or in digital settings.
YGG has a partnership with games such as the SandBox and Guild of Guardians. It makes money by selling or renting non-fungible tokens (NFTs) assets in the virtual gaming world. NFTs represent and validate digital assets.
Digital platform Playvegas88 offers gaming as a service (GaaS). It provides software services to other operators for casino games such as poker and blackjack while also enabling the creation of betting websites. Playvegas88 builds unified arenas for iGaming providers to house all the operational tools, terminals, and solutions for their businesses.
The startup makes money through subscriptions, whereas the game providers use betting, in-store purchases, and referrals to earn revenue. It is entirely bootstrapped, which means the owners built their business using their own resources.
Using the GaaS approach saves money, improves user experience, and reduces the time needed to market products. Game providers simply opt-in and use the software and application package installers (APIs) to power their companies.
Tier One Entertainment
Philippines-based Tier One Entertainment is an online gaming and talent agency. It connects amateur eSports players and audiences with brands and offers technical support to online streamers.
The company is partnered with Admazing Co., which provides in-game advertising solutions that suit its mobile gaming ecosystem. Another partnership that the company is engaged in is with SecretLab, which designs high-quality gaming chairs.
The startup’s investors include BITKRAFT ESPORTS Ventures and Atlas Ventures.
Professional eSports team from Indonesia, EVOS Esports, makes money through membership, live streaming, and merchandising. It gives its teams in-game coaching and provides an in-game credits store.
Some of the company’s partners include VISA, AXE, and Lazada, and investors include Indogen Capital, Korea Investment Partners, and Insignia Ventures Partners. So far, EVOS Esports has raised $16.4 million USD in several rounds, with the first being $4.4 million USD and the second one bringing in $12 million USD.
Garena is an online game development company from Singapore. Its money comes from developing games, publishing free games, and distributing them across Southeast Asia. Garena’s parent company is the renowned Singaporean unicorn Sea Limited.
The company builds stages for eSports players to challenge each other. It had a private equity funding round, which led to Keystone Capital financing the whole deal.
Future of gaming startups in Southeast Asia
Gaming startups within the region will continue to grow over the coming years due to the interest among gamers, both young and old. Tech advancements will drive the growth of eSports in Southeast Asia by increasing player competitiveness and audience engagement while providing a lucrative market for virtual games.
However, some obstacles remain in aspects such as multi-language adoption, broader investment in the industry, online competition viewership, and access to gaming platforms. As countries progress with the rollout of infrastructure for 5G technology, this will boost the tech industries in the region.
When stakeholders fix these problems, it will become clearer why there’s so much interest and excitement in the gaming market. After all, the industry is fun, engaging and offers the potential for rewards, all while increasing company revenues.