From the first Mario on Nintendo NES released in 1983 in Japan, to online games, MMORPG, and mobile games connecting millions of players together from different devices, video games have seen an explosive growth globally. The number of esports competitions is multiplying around the world, making them a new market opportunity.
Global gaming and esports market
In the gigantic industry of Media and Entertainment, the video game sector is the crown jewel. According to the United States Department of Commerce, the global revenue of the M&E industry is approaching the 2 trillion dollars bar (1.9 trillion). In the $712 Billion dollar worth US M&E market, 51% of market share was generated by the video game industry (by far the largest).
In 2016, the global esports market size reached 892 million US dollar, with 74% (or 661 million US dollars) coming from sponsorships and adverting. The second largest revenue stream came from prize pools, representing only 9% of the share (78 million US dollars).
Esports in Asia are booming, and international companies and big industry stakeholders are looking to crack into the market. Good news came in 2017 therefore when it was announced that esports would become a competitive sport at the Asian Games 2022 in Hangzhou. The Asian Games are the world’s second largest multi-sport event after the Olympics, with 45 national delegations and about 10,000 athletes taking part in the games in Incheon, South Korea, in 2014. The fact that esports are becoming a recognised discipline in international sporting events could lead to a myriad of business opportunities for sponsors and brands.
Esports in Southeast Asia
According to research by Newzoo, Southeast Asia now has more than 9.5 million esports enthusiasts with 2.8 million in Vietnam, 2 million in Indonesia and 1.8 million in Malaysia. SEA is currently the industry’s fastest-growing region, and the numbers are expected to double by 2019. If you take into account occasional viewers, the total esports audience will reach 19.9 million, and exceed 40 million in 2019. Games such as League of Legends, Counter Strike, and Blizzard´s Overwatch were the most viewed and played games in 2016. Tencent further estimates that although there are already 50,000 people working in the esports industry in Southeast Asia, the industry has the means to support another 210,000.
In Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand where esports competitions are becoming more and more mainstream, esports academics have started teaching strategy and technique to competitors. esports audiences are generally young and connected, proactive on social media, and dependent on the quality and affordability of internet connection. The more reliable the infrastructure, the better penetration esports will have in the Southeast Asian audience.
Infrastructure as key
Southeast Asian countries have been developing infrastructures massively in the last decade. Not only has it led to the spread of esports through better Internet communication channels, but it has also enabled the organisation of mass audience events across the region, such as the Garena World’s Realm of Valor Pro League Season 1 in Bangkok in March 2018. The event attracted as many as 236,000 people over 2 days and had more than 10.6 million streaming viewers from all over the world. It was claimed to be the biggest esports competition in the region.
Attracting an audience
More and more millennials in Southeast Asia are choosing professional careers in the esports industry. In order to continue supporting this progress and attract both regional and local esports communities as well as investors and advertisers, the Southeast Asian countries must keep improving infrastructures and continue to organise quality competitions in response to the growing demand.