Are consoles still a thing in mobile-first Asia?


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Are consoles still a thing in mobile-first Asia?

The games industry is healthier than ever, with COVID-19 helping to drive people to play and spend money on games across all genres and platforms. Looking at the gaming console market only, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the supply chain for this industry, but the constant lockdowns in various countries have increased demand at the same time.

The global market for console gaming stood at US$34.3 billion in 2019 and is expected to generate US$58.6 billion revenue this year. As part of GMO Research’s survey on gaming in Asia, this article provides insights on consumer behaviour and preferences in gaming consoles across six countries: China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

From 2019 to 2021 there was an increase in the use of gaming consoles in Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Taiwan saw the largest increase from 11.7% to 20.9%. Next is Vietnam, where use of game consoles rose from 10% to 13.9%. In the Philippines, game consoles also gained in popularity, rising from 10.9% to 13.4%. There was a drop in the usage of game consoles in China from 27.5% to 20.1% in the last two years, but this could be due to strict regulations on game consoles and console games. In Malaysia and Thailand, usage of game consoles remained more or less constant over the last two years, hovering around 10% and 20% respectively.

So which are the most popular game consoles among gamers in Asia? With the exception of Taiwan, the PlayStation 4 seems to be the most popular game console, coming out top in China (24.8%), Malaysia (32.2%), the Philippines (37%), Thailand (31%), and Vietnam (21.6%).

The most popular game console in Taiwan is the Nintendo Switch, with close to half (48.4%) of gamers naming it as their console of choice. The Nintendo Switch also commands a certain level of popularity in the other countries, coming in second in Malaysia (22.2%), China (17.8%), and the Philippines (14.1%). It takes third place in Thailand at 12.8%.

Another popular console in Asia is the PlayStation 5. Launched in late 2020, it is relatively new, so it remains to be seen whether it will overtake its predecessor (PlayStation 4) to become the top console in Asia. Despite being the new kid on the block, the highly anticipated PlayStation 5 has already overtaken some of its competitors to become the second most popular game console in Vietnam (18.7%) and Thailand (14.3%). Other popular game consoles preferred by gamers in Asia include the Xbox 360, older versions of the PlayStation, and the Nintendo Wii.

Gamers across Asia are rather consistent when it comes to the amount of time they spend on game consoles. In all of the countries surveyed, most gamers (more than 35%) spend between 30 minutes to 2 hours a week on gaming consoles. A smaller percentage (25–34%) of gamers spend 3–9 hours a week on gaming consoles. A small portion of gamers in the Philippines (15.6%) and Thailand (12.8%) spend 10–19 hours a week on gaming consoles.

The rapid increase in the gaming population across the world is forming the driving force behind the growth of the console gaming market. That said, the game console market will continue to face fierce competition from other forms of play, like mobile and PC. In order to remain competitive, apart from direct sales from consoles and console games, the industry is exploring other opportunities for growth, such as subscriptions and cloud gaming. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what next-gen consoles will be introduced by the market giants, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft, and how these will be adopted by new and existing gamers – a population soon to reach 3 billion people globally.

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