In Southeast Asia, the online gaming landscape is undergoing a transformative shift driven by the rise of the eSports industry. Online entertainment, such as gaming, increased during the lockdowns associated with the recent pandemic. However, as smartphones become more accessible and affordable, the region is experiencing a surge in the popularity of mobile gaming, leaving console and PC gaming in the shade. This emerging trend is reshaping the industry dynamics and signalling a new generation of gamers in ASEAN. 

From the exponential growth of mobile gaming to the enduring loyalty towards PC and console gaming, it is clear that the gaming trends in Southeast Asia are changing rapidly, setting the stage for a dynamic and competitive market in the region.

Top immersive gaming trends to look out for in 2023

The evolution of gaming platforms 

Gaming has traditionally enjoyed using consoles and PCs, where players gather around screens, immersing themselves in virtual worlds. They were seen as the pinnacle, offering powerful hardware and vast game libraries. However, a significant shift has occurred in recent years. New platforms have arrived to disrupt the industry, changing how people perceive and engage with games.

Mobile devices’ accessibility, convenience, and advancing technology have created a new era where serious gaming is no longer confined to consoles and PCs. The impact has been profound, requiring developers, publishers, and hardware manufacturers to adapt to the growing demand for gaming-on-the-go necessitating key players to embrace mobile options as an integral part of the landscape.

The rise of mobile gaming and key contributors to its popularity

The gaming industry has grown remarkably, positioning itself as one of the fastest-growing sectors. The inherent convenience and accessibility of mobile devices have fueled an unprecedented surge in demand for online gaming, resulting in significant revenue gains for developers in the market. 

According to Statista, the global penetration rate of smartphones witnessed a notable increase, reaching 68% in 2022, surpassing levels last seen in 2018. This growth can be attributed to the escalating prevalence of smartphones and enhanced internet connectivity, leading to an ever-expanding base of mobile gamers. Moreover, the surge in popularity of online games in the region can be attributed to the area’s vibrant gaming culture and the availability of localised content. 

Game developers have recognised the immense potential in catering to the unique preferences and tastes of Southeast Asian gamers, leading to an influx of games specifically designed to resonate with the local audience. This localisation strategy has played a pivotal role in establishing a solid regional presence.

The prominence of companies like Niantic and Rovio further highlights two different perspectives within the industry. As an innovator, Niantic has embraced new augmented reality (AR) technology in its games, offering unique and immersive experiences to players. 

Meanwhile, Rovio, as a well-established company, has successfully capitalised on its flagship franchise by continuously building upon it and finding innovative ways to monetise its games. Despite a slight downturn in 2022, it becomes increasingly evident that the market will continue to experience exponential growth as more individuals gain access to these platforms and become active players.

Impacts of increased device penetration 

As more people use their smartphones and tablets to access the internet globally, there has also been a significant impact on the gaming market which cannot be overstated. Southeast Asia has witnessed a remarkable surge in smartphone adoption, with countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines leading the charge. 

Smartphones have become an integral part of people’s lives, serving as communication tools and entertainment devices. The ease of portability has contributed to the growth of mobile gaming. Unlike consoles and PCs, players can enjoy their favourite games anytime, anywhere, requiring a fixed setup and dedicated space. 

This flexibility has proven to be a game-changer, particularly in a region where people lead increasingly busy lives and seek entertainment options that can be seamlessly integrated into their daily routines. 

Additionally, the social aspect of mobile gaming has played a pivotal role in its popularity. Many mobile games incorporate multiplayer features, enabling players to connect and compete with friends and strangers alike. This social element has fostered a sense of community among gamers and transformed it into a social activity transcending physical boundaries.

As mobile gaming continues to thrive and maintain relevance, ASEAN remains a vibrant and exciting market for gamers and industry players. The gaming trends in Southeast Asia reflect the increasing popularity of mobile gaming, fueled by accessibility, affordability, and the social nature of mobile devices. However, console gaming and PC gaming still maintain their dedicated fanbase and continue to play a significant role in the gaming market. The region’s gaming industry is dynamic and evolving, with all three platforms coexisting and shaping the future of gaming.