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Southeast Asia: The next big mobile gaming destination

ECB Southeast Asia featured image

SEA vs South Korea game downloadsToday, if there is anything that people love to do on their smartphones besides social media and instant messaging, it’s playing games. In fact, mobile gaming is so popular that according to an App Annie estimate, in December 2014, 80% of revenue and 40% of downloads globally on iOS and Google Play combined, came from mobile gaming.

This growing popularity of gaming on mobile is even more pronounced in Southeast Asia. In December 2014, game downloads from Southeast Asia region (Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines) were thrice as those in South Korea (Refer to graph: Mobile game downloads for select countries), and mobile gaming drove nearly half of all app downloads, making up for 60% of the total app revenue from this region.

SEA app revenue percentageFurthermore, game downloads grew 45% year-on-year from 2013 to 2014. What comes as a surprise here is that Google Play saw 4 times more downloads than iOS App Store. This trend can be attributed to the fact that being an emerging market, Southeast Asia is seeing a rapid adoption of Android smartphones, which are available across this region at affordable price points. This adoption further got a shot in the arm once Google released its low-cost Android One smartphones across this region.

The substantially lower cost of gaming on smartphones as opposed to the upfront investment involved in desktop or console gaming also tips the scales in favor of mobile gaming in these markets. The growing adoption of smartphones coupled with a rapid increase in a mobile-first population that prefers smartphones for all its content consumption needs, has ensured a steady growth in consumption of mobile games.

SEA growth in indexed game downloadsGames such as Clash of Clans, Plants vs. Zombies, Candy Crush Saga, which have found worldwide fame, are immensely popular in Southeast Asian markets. So much so that in December 2014, Clash of Clans ranked at the top in terms of combined revenues from both Google Play and iOS App Store in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam.

While there is a strong demand for global gaming titles in these markets, games developed by regional developers are also finding great traction. Game developers, especially those local to these markets, therefore need to set their targets on Southeast Asia if they want to unlock new levels of adoption for their game titles.

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