1. COVID has given a strong impetus to adoption of online gaming, which is evident from the growth of active + paid userbase in the region

COVID-19 has acted as a booster for the Gaming Industry in Southeast Asia. Lockdowns and safety precautions taken by people have made them gravitate towards the gaming sector which has led to massive enlargement of audience available for the publishers.

Companies have witnessed an increase in Active and paying users, which can be attributed not just to the new users but even those who had gone off these platforms, and have now returned.

Work from Home culture is also an enabler since the working-class population now has the time to play and even spend on online gaming.

Additionally, gaming platforms have provided people with avenues, to connect and socialize with friends and colleagues from the comfort and safety of their homes.

​ASEAN Active Userbase, Mn

Note: Figures here modelled based on aggregated view of top 3-4 players in the region

ASEAN Paid Userbase, Mn

Note: Figures here modelled based on aggregated view of top 3-4 players in the region

…however, COVID lockdown lead to spike in new users and increased engagement across gaming segments – casual gaming and card-based games (Rummy and Poker)

Growth Drivers

2. Being a market that is still developing, only ~15% gamers were paying users in a Pre COVID world (compared to close to 50% in more developed markets)

We estimate that 85-90% of gamers still fall into the casual gamers segment where monthly spend on gaming is tending to 0.

There is immense potential for supply side to drive monetization opportunities by targeting the casual gamers segment and making them graduate into CORE segments.

At a big picture level, following two opportunities are worth pursuing in the short to medium term –

  • Catering to the needs of female gamers with curated games/avatars aligned with their interest areas.
  • Targeting the age group of 35-45 years. This user cohort has a higher disposable income and producing games having elements of social, physical, mental and professional development in some form could prove to be a lucrative opportunity.

Typical Cohorts/Persona’s of Gamers (in ASEAN)

The share of paid gamers is higher in Developed Markets as there is a taker for each type of game being released whereas in the emerging markets the audience is relatively picky.

The supply side is also geared enough to understand the dynamics of consumer need in these markets due to their mature nature and can easily curate offerings to service those needs.

Additionally, people in these markets have higher disposable income which enables them to make more purchases.

Share of paid and free gamers in Developed and Developing Markets, Mn, split by %

Note: Singapore is an outlier here compared to other ASEAN countries where share of paid gamers is relatively higher.

3. However, majority of new users added were falling into the Core + Hardcore Gamer cohort during COVID, which is more susceptible for paid usage

One of the positive impacts of COVID on the gaming industry has been the availability of leisure time to users, both existing & new.

An interesting trend observed has been that majority of new users added during the COVID lockdown were falling into the Core + Hardcore category (spending 7+ hrs per week on games).

The rise in multiplayer games has also contributed to this transition, since these games act as a platform for people to connect virtually which results in them spending more time.

Share of Casual vs Core + Hardcore gamers in ASEAN markets, Mn, split by %

4. 95%+ games are single platform games with most games being made for Mobile devices; in multi-platform games, Mobiles account for 80%+ of users

Most of the games being developed in the market today are single platform, owing to the challenges associated with creating multi-platform games. Additionally, the need for multi-platform games wasn’t as strong in a Pre COVID world.

Within Single platform games, mobile is the key channel accounting for the majority of the games available in the market.

Recently, there is a focus on creating multiplatform games and cross-platform games due to the social engagement need which figures prominently in today’s gaming population.

5. In-App purchases account for the highest share of revenue for most games; Ads, subscription-based revenue are other prominent monetization levers

Gaming companies have traditionally believed that the genre of the games they produce would decide the monetization strategies, which is true to some extent.

However with an increase in user base due to COVID, developers, and publishers who wish to retain the present users and increase conversion, find it important to diversify their strategy, opt for models such as the Hybrid model or the IAP (In-App Purchases) + Subscription Model.

At an overall level, In-App purchases account for a larger share of revenue generated by games and there is a strong focus on creating curated IAP strategies to drive engagement + add value to users, thereby facilitating monetization.

Monetization levers and importance across types of games

6. Genres of games promoting the social interaction aspect are gaining traction – e.g. party games with multiplayer

One of the most exciting ways of connecting and socializing with friends and colleagues in this new normal, is playing Multiplayer games. ASEAN has witnessed an increase in various genres of multiplayer games during COVID. A few selected examples are listed below.

Few Games gaining traction