Building a Career in the Lucrative ASEAN Gaming Industry

asean gaming industry feature image

When you think of videogames, the more popular franchises such as Final Fantasy or Counter-Strike come to mind. However, did you know that ASEAN has been building up this ever-growing industry with our own home-grown titles – notable partnerships and major networks of gamers?

A report by Newzoo, a market intelligence provider focused on global games and eSports, pegged Southeast Asia as the world’s fastest growing region for the gaming market. The is mainly due to the region’s increasing online connectivity, rapid economic growth, large number of mobile users, established Western distribution channels, growing number of English speakers and the billion-dollar market.

Newzoo terms the following countries as The Big 6: Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia, who account for 99% of the region’s revenues.

Another report by Research and Markets, has projected that the number of the region’s PC online gamers alone would reach 163 million by 2021 and revenues of USD2 billion in the same year. As the market for ASEAN gamers continue to grow exponentially, it makes sense that the region’s own game developers tap onto this goldmine of an industry with regional flair.


The Gaming Industry Landscape and Opportunities

China may be leading the games market in the Asia-Pacific region, but it cannot help to follow in the footsteps of established videogame companies who are increasingly looking towards Southeast Asia to invest and outsource for talents. In general, the ASEAN region has always been an attractive place for international business so it comes as no surprise when major companies – like Ubisoft – sets up offices in Singapore and the Philippines. Ubisoft is a videogame company from France known for such trailblazing hits like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed. Whereas notable Chinese companies such as Ali Games (of Alibaba) and Tencent, have been just as keen to bank in on the ASEAN gaming market.




However, the ASEAN region isn’t without its own leading game publisher such as Asiasoft, an online game operator established in 2001 with offices in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Myanmar. Asiasoft previously published 2 popular Korean MMORPGs, Ragnarok Online and MapleStory for regional distribution. Moreover, the region is also home to some formidable talents such as Streamline Studios from Malaysia and Studio Hive from Thailand respectively- both of which have worked in Final Fantasy, arguably the most recognized Japanese role-playing game series in the world.

In recognizing this the remarkable growth of the ASEAN gaming industry, there have been two significant gaming events, such as the first ASEAN Games for eSports (AGES) competition and the International Mobile Gaming Awards for Southeast Asia (IMGA SEA), both launched in 2016.  Each of The Big 6 countries already have gamers that number in the millions locally but when considered from a regional and international standpoint, it offers up a wealth of opportunities from investments to career prospects.


Career Prospects – Choosing Your Role and Leveling Up

From developers to gamers, the gaming industry has a variety of career opportunities to choose from. As such, there’s always a need for young capable talents covering exciting roles such as:

  • programmer
  • writer
  • graphic designer
  • animator
  • composer
  • sound engineer
  • art director
  • voice actor
  • brand manager

With eSports as a booming industry on its own, there is an increasing number of professional gaming athletes for competitions. eSports tournaments especially regional ones attract a number of enthusiasts that also include other businesses shrewd enough to capitalise on the flourishing success.

According to Newzoo, the Manila Major eSports tournament in 2016 alone clocked in 9 million hours of viewing from online audience. With plenty of opportunities for promotion and sponsorship, it’s no wonder everyone wants a slice of the cake. There’s also the route of being a gamer using YouTube as a platform which many in the West have even made into full-time commitment earning money through ads and sponsorships.

Given the success of Southeast Asian social media influencers, the vocation seems full of promise if the positive trajectory of the ASEAN gaming industry is anything to go by. The private sector isn’t the only one on the bandwagon as governments remain cognizant of the potential for economic growth for example the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has introduced initiatives such as Level Up KL, to foster the games industry in Malaysia and the region.


Game On, ASEAN!

Future projections have indicated that the ASEAN gaming industry will continue to flourish and its potential to expand towards the major leagues of videogames development is exceptionally high. The combination of an increasingly digital-savvy population and better access to games across different platforms suggests that the gaming industry is without a doubt a worthwhile investment – both locally and internationally.

The region has already witnessed a sleeper hit like Flappy Bird (created by Vietnamese developer, Nguyen Ha Dong) amassing global infamy, so imagine the possibilities when video games development is approached from a more strategic standpoint taking advantage of our strength in numbers.


Related: How 3 Thai EdTech Startups are Fixing Our Education System – with AI and Games



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