Asia has dominated the gaming industry for many years, with China leading the region. It was reported that in 2019, China had the highest gaming revenue in the world at USD36.54 billion,1 and this booming market will continue to grow. Driven by high smartphone penetration, mobile games will drive the next wave of market expansion.
In view of this rapid growth and expansion, GMO Research has conducted a study on gaming in Asia, with in-depth, country-specific insights on gaming habits, preferences and spending patterns across 6 countries; China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. This article highlights important trends and behavioral patterns in the different parts of Asia to give you an insight into consumer preferences in this diverse region.
Mobile Is King
Mobile phones have become ubiquitous around the world, and Asia is no exception. This has led to the rise of mobile games, which are fast dominating the gaming industry. Mobile games can be easily customized for local needs and this enables quick rollout in diverse Asia. According to the GMO survey, Android mobile devices proved to be the most popular among gamers in Asia, with up to 78.6% in the Philippines naming this as the device of choice when it comes to gaming.
How much time do people in Asia spend playing games? The majority of gamers across Asia spend from 30 minutes to 2 hours a week on games. China is an exception; 35% of mainland gamers spend 3 to 9 hours on mobile games in a week.
It comes as no surprise, then, that domestic gaming market revenue in China is expected to grow from USD30.8 billion in 2018 to USD41.5 billion in 2023.2
Despite a temporary 9-month freeze on game licensing in 2018, demand for and spending on games in China remain solid. This sustained interest sends a strong message that spending in the gaming industry is on the rise. The GMO survey shows that a staggering 91.7% of people in Vietnam have spent money on gaming.
The next highest is China, with 67.8% indicating that they have made some expenditure on gaming. Thailand is third, with 54.2% of those surveyed claiming that they have spent on games.
Which gaming console is popular among consumers in Asia? According to the survey, with the exception of Taiwan, the PlayStation 4 (PS4) is the game console of choice across Asia. In Taiwan, the Nintendo Wii has slightly edged out the PS4 as the most popular game console.
When it comes to game genres, it seems that Action and Strategy games are the most popular among gamers in Asia, with the exception of Vietnam and Thailand, where Sports and Massively Multiplayer Online games are also widely preferred.
The GMO survey shows that the majority of gamers in the region – over 40% - get their gaming scoop from mobile applications on their smartphones or tablets. Most gaming enthusiasts in Vietnam (52.8%) and China (54.4%) prefer to turn to social networking services for news and information on games. Another important source is family and friends, led by Malaysia with 41.8%.
The gaming explosion in Asia shows no sign of slowing down. With high smartphone penetration rates, mobile games are taking Asia by storm. That said, it is not all smooth sailing in this high-risk, high-return market. The life of games is getting shorter, thereby increasing the pressure to generate profits in a short window of time. Developers need adequate funding and investment in order to pull through the initial stage where they may not see any profits. All in all, the gaming industry in Asia is still incredibly attractive to many and there is no shortage of new entrants vying for a piece of the pie.
About the survey
This survey was conducted online by GMO Research from August 20-23, 2019, on a sample of 5000 respondents from China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.