Gaming startups in Southeast Asia are cropping up and expanding to meet the demand for innovative entertainment. Despite the fact that none of the top 5 startups in the gaming industry are from the region, the revenue in the online gaming segment still looks set to reach USD $0.43 billion this year and grow by 7.40% annually to reach USD $0.58 billion in 2026. Furthermore, by 2026, there will be about 85.8 million users, with a user penetration of 12.2%.
The current trending iteration of GameFi combines decentralised financial solutions with online games. That means players can benefit from a play-to-earn (P2E) model whereby games offer rewards, tokens, and in-game features that are tradeable for money in the form of cryptocurrency.
Innovative technologies like blockchain and Web3, the digital transformation in Southeast Asia, are fuelling some of the changes in the gaming industry, while the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed people to seek alternative income sources. The increased use of smartphones and the internet has also played a significant role. In addition, the immersive nature of modern-day games and the introduction of the metaverse continue to attract new gamers.
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Here are the current top 5 gamefi startups in the region:
Ampverse is a Singapore-based eSports entertainment company that connects gaming companies with their audiences and gaming communities. Its P2E model enables players to access games like Axie Infinity and make money by trading blockchain technology like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in exchange for cryptocurrency. Other brands in the company’s portfolio include Thai-based eSports brand Bacon.
In March, Ampverse secured USD $12 million from Falcon Capital, with former Southeast Asia managing director for Disney Rob Gilby, GoGame CEO David Ng, and former vice president of Lagardere and Wolfpack Fund Marcus John, among others, contributing to the funding. The funds will be used to expand into Indonesia and the Philippines, to grow its P2E unit, and to acquire more eSports teams.
Another of the top 5 GameFi companies is a Singapore-based blockchain technology company called Ethlas. It is a free-to-play (F2P) and P2E game, where players can access various games through the Ethlas games portal, engage with the community, compete in tournaments, trade items in the marketplace, and earn cryptocurrency. Players can also collect daily rewards or forge personalised tokens to use in the games.
Ethlas recently secured USD $6 million in funding from Dragonfly Capital Partners, Yield Guild Games, and Makers Fund. Other investors include Infinity Ventures Crypto, Venturra Capital, GBIC, and Sequoia Capital India. The funds will be used to attract new users and to hire more employees to support the rest of the team in different departments.
Gamers who wish to build guilds and P2E in the metaverse can do so through the Infinity Force platform. The objective of the Singapore-based company is to support and expand Web3 and GameFi to communities worldwide. The platform uses blockchain technology and has an NFT marketplace where users may trade and earn crypto.
In January, Infinity Force raised USD $5.5 million in funding from Animoca Brands, MH Ventures, and Jump Capital. Block Dream Fund, SkyVision Capital, Token Bay Capital and others also invested. The funds will be used to scale the platform and boost functionality.
Thailand-based GuildFi creates interoperability in the metaverse by integrating games, guilds, and NFTs into a Web3 ecosystem whereby gamers can earn money and rewards.
Last year, the company raised USD $6 million from Dapper Labs, Animoca Brands, SkyVision Capital, Coin98 Ventures, and others who contributed to the round. The funds were used to improve interconnectedness for gamers across the metaverse.
One of the up-and-coming startups, BuzzAR, is the first female-led metaverse company in the region and is focused on creating family-style games. The already successful HappyToon avatar creation game is the backbone of its latest, soon-to-be-released offering, CryptoToon.
BuzzAr is on track for massive growth, with the latest round of seed funding headed by F50 Elevate in February 2022, bringing in USD $3.8 million and plans for expansion into social media and web3 activities..
The top 5 startups in the gaming industry demonstrate the potential modern-day games have to not only deliver entertainment but also help gamers make money. Increased smartphone usage, the development of more immersive mobile games, and the presence of tech-savvy youth offer the region a gateway to getting more users, which leads to high revenues.
Technological advancements in blockchain and 5G combined with the integration of decentralised finance will boost the gaming sector and help the top 5 gamefi companies in the region to blossom. The introduction of Web3 may grow the gaming ecosystem as startups seek to use the decentralised platform to build their games.
Moreover, because games are known to relieve stress, gaming startups in Southeast Asia can innovate and integrate gamified mental health solutions. Finally, the government must strengthen its policies and support the industry to ensure GameFi is safe for users and enhance cybersecurity.