The changing face of gamers and what it means for e-sports startups in SEA

The pandemic led to increased adoption of virtual social interactions. But who are the real gamers in 2021? How is the e-sports industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of our lives in many different ways. Lockdown restrictions meant we were suddenly unable to spend time catching up with friends, family, and colleagues. We explored innovative ways to explore the virtual side of social activity due to the unprecedented circumstances. As a result, many turned to video games, taking e-sports and the entire industry to the next level.

Recent research conducted by Accenture suggests that the global gaming industry is currently valued at US$300 billion. To put this figure into perspective, it exceeds the music and movie industries combined.

For example, summer blockbusters such as Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame or Star Wars: The Force Awakens movies all famously generated over US$2 billion individually.

However, when Grand Theft Auto V (GTA) was initially released, it earned more than $800 million in its first 24 hours.

More recently, the pandemic has led to the increased adoption of virtual social interactions as many found gaming to be an engaging distraction from the pandemic and its frustrating restrictions. But who represents the average gamer in 2021?

The changing demographic of gamers

According to NewZoo, over 80 per cent of Southeast Asia’s urban online population are gamers. This has led to publishers and gaming firms seriously looking into capitalising on the growth potential found in this region.

According to an IDC report, a 75 per cent pandemic-driven increase in mobile gaming activity is expected to remain indefinitely. Predictably, this surge of interest is generating a particular focus on the rise in mobile gaming availabilities.

As a result, it’s time to retire the lazy stereotype that only adolescent boys play video games. From the dad who lives and breathes GTA, to the mum who plays Candy Crush, to grandparents playing Wii, in a digital age, we are all gamers.

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In the past three years, the gaming industry has seen an additional half a billion players enter the space, which has increased the global figure to 2.7 billion. In addition, an influx of older gamers means that the average age of a typical gamer is now 35.

Women currently represent 60 per cent of new players on the scene, while 61 per cent of men are long-time gaming veterans. But how do these changing demographics and unique preferences lead to the changing faces of icons in today’s world?

New gaming platforms and changing demographics are pushing business boundaries away from product-centric to more experience-oriented platforms.

Gamification is becoming a standard for brands. Many household names are also embracing the concepts of gaming to educate and market their products.

Having said this, within a short period of time, we could also look at gaming as a means to connect and communicate with any audience across various industries from consumer brands to financial institutions.

We are on the cusp of a new wave of behaviour that is set to go global, and there is a growing urgency to understand and contribute to this new system.

The opportunity: Gaming as an ecosystem of super platforms

The impact of gaming on entertainment and our culture has shown upward trends leading to a more digital lifestyle. As the streaming wars gather pace, Amazon Prime is creating a TV series based around Bethesda’s Fallout, and HBO is making similar moves with an adaptation of The Last of Us for TV.

Now content with TV shows such as The Witcher, Netflix is also adding video games to its service next year as cloud gaming prepares to enter the mainstream.

During the height of the pandemic, empty sports stadiums worldwide removed much of the passion and atmosphere that attracted global audiences.

By contrast, gaming platforms are now transforming into digital social platforms where players can meet, communicate, watch live-streamed events and make purchases. All of which is fuelling the growth of e-sports.

Having said this, Ampverse became one of the fastest-growing e-sports companies in the East, setting out to play a different game by fusing data, technology, performance management, and monetisation. It’s this unique combination that is enabling major players to create a competitive advantage in a thriving market.

We have recently made acquisitions in Thailand, Vietnam and India and its winning team, Bacon Time, garnered a staggering peak viewership of 175,502 online viewers during the 2021 Arena of Valour Pro League Championship in Thailand.

The new sports heroes, celebrities, and rock stars filling sporting stadiums and attracting millions of online viewers are gamers.

According to Statista, by 2024, viewers of e-sports tournaments are expected to reach 577.2 million people worldwide.

In addition, gamers and e-sports teams are widely regarded as icons and influencers by consumer lifestyle brands and audiences alike.

Upholding the integrity of the e-sports industry

With an increasing amount of attention and investment in the industry, one of the biggest challenges is how the e-sports industry can be more effectively regulated.

With third-party involvement needed to ensure that teams and stakeholder’s needs are continuously being met, blockchain tech could be the solution to many of the challenges in the gaming industry.

In a digital world where we are all gamers, e-sports presents a long-term growth opportunity and a chance to extend the experience in traditional sports. E-sports initiatives are providing companies with attractive options to grow their international fanbase.

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In particular, Southeast Asia’s games ecosystem is booming, with a US$5 billion game market expected to grow to US$8.3 billion in 2023.

These are just a few examples of why strategising efforts to focus on specific market segments and target audiences is becoming imperative in the industry.

It’s time to connect the dots by building hyperlocal ecosystems that connect teams, fans, platforms and brands. Many are only just beginning to understand the potential of e-sports, and the opportunities that are waiting in the world’s fastest-growing gaming region.

Image Credit: Fredrick Tendong

Source: e27

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