Two of the biggest names in modern IT, Tencent and Newzoo, have combined their resources to develop a white paper that looked into the current boom in esports gaming in the crucial Southeast Asian market.
The study found that there is indeed a marked increase in interest in esports in the region. So much so that the study predicted that the compound annual growth rate for esports-related revenue in the region is forecast to grow by almost 21% in the period from 2019 through 2024.
That growth rate is almost double that of the global esports compound annual growth rate, which is running currently at around 11.1% across the whole industry.
Estimates are that the industry should be worth US$72.5 million in Southeast Asia by 2024.
The Importance of Mobile Gaming for Southeast Asian Esports
Unlike regions like North America and Europe, where the esports industry and top esports organizations have thrived partly due to a pre-existing, expansive, and high-level technology infrastructure, the situation in many parts of southeast Asia is very different.
In some parts of the region, it mirrors what has happened in North America and Europe. A similar technological structure exists in Japan which means that the esports industry in that country is well-developed and not only can you play esports, but you can also bet on esports in Japan relatively easily, even if the laws surrounding gambling on esports are not very clear cut.
However, in other parts of the region, it has been the uptake of the best mobile games that have driven this upsurge in the number of people engaging with esports.
The paper underlined this when noting that unlike the developed economies in Japan, North America, and western Europe, where the IT infrastructure is much more advanced, the esports boom in many parts of Southeast Asia is down predominantly to mobile gaming.
A 2021 study by Newzoo revealed that 82% of the total online population in the region plays mobile games.
Furthermore, 39% of those that answered the survey, play esports on their mobile device first, ahead of playing via a console or computer.
Southeast Asia to Benefit from Esports Economically
What is without doubt, according to some of the bigger movers and shakers within the Southeast Asian esports industry, is that esports is having a hugely positive economic benefit in the region.
Hugo Tristao, the head of Newzoo, commented:
“Esports is fast-growing and becoming an integral part of the local games market. By the end of 2021, it is expected that Southeast Asia will hit 42.5 million esports audiences. Newer esports organizations will be founded, tournament organizers will enter the market, including broadcast companies and specialized marketing agencies.”
Alongside the growth of the esports industry in the region has been a concerted effort from esports organizations and esports betting sites to develop a presence in the region. This has led to the development of new career opportunities for the next generation in Southeast Asia.
This has also led to esports gaining crucial credibility and acknowledgment from governments and academia too. You can take skills-based esports certification programs at Malaysia’s Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation.
Add to this the inclusion of esports as an event in the 2019 SEA Games, and it is easy to see why esports is becoming increasingly important in this part of the globe.
However, the fact that the region is, perhaps uniquely in the world today, a mobile-first esports region means that growth can continue for many years to come and that the mobile esports industry will be the primary factor in facilitating this growth in the next few years.