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The Explosive Growth of Esports in Southeast Asia

We’ve all heard the term “esports”, right? As the name says, esports stands for electronic sports. It’s an organized competitive video gaming, basically revolves around organized competitions among professional video game players or teams, with tournaments being streamed online or held in grand arenas.

Over the past decade, esports has effortlessly woven its way into the fabric of mainstream entertainment, effortlessly rivalling traditional sports in terms of viewership and fervent engagement. Fueled by its electrifying gameplay, immensely talented athletes, and devoted fan communities, competitive gaming has carved out a unique space, effortlessly bridging the gap between the virtual and physical worlds.

Esports has grown rapidly in popularity across the globe, with Southeast Asia being no exception. This region has seen a surge in the number of gamers, esports teams, and tournaments, with countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Phillipines, Vietnam, and Thailand leading the charge. 

Southeast Asia has become a hotbed for esports activities. It has emerged as a key player in the esports market, attracting major global brands as sponsors and generating significant revenue. According to Newzoo, Southeast Asia’s games market has grown rapidly, with esports playing a significant role in this growth. The region is the fastest-growing games market in the world, with over 40% of its population being gamers, surprisingly, more than 55% of its gamers are over 55 years old. In 2019, the Southeast Asia games market generated $4.4 billion in revenue, with esports accounting for a significant portion of that revenue.

Segment-wise global games revenue, Courtesy of Televisory

The rise of mobile gaming in Southeast Asia has majorly contributed to the growth of esports, as mobile games are accessible to a wider audience and can be played anywhere, anytime. According to reports from Newzoo and Niko Partners, the growth of mobile games in Southeast Asia from 2014 to 2017 surpassed a staggering 180%. With a large population of young gamers, a thriving esports scene, and major global brands investing in the region, this upward trend is expected to keep rocking the region for the next five years. 

The game industry in Southeast Asia is being fueled by multiple factors, including the advancement of internet infrastructure and the recent introduction of 5G technology. Additionally, the popularity of esports content on platforms like YouTube and Twitch is attracting a large number of viewers, which is also helping game companies to flourish in the region. A prime example of this is Free Fire, which was the most downloaded mobile game in 2019 and greatly benefited from content creation. 

Major global brands have recognized the potential of the Southeast Asian esports market and have been investing heavily in the region. According to a report by Nikkei Asia, the market is expected to grow to $72.5 million in 2024. Global brands such as Coca-Cola, Nike, and Intel have already entered the market as sponsors, recognizing the potential for reaching a younger demographic that is difficult to reach through traditional marketing channels.

In addition to attracting global brands as sponsors, the rise of esports in Southeast Asia has also created new business opportunities for local entrepreneurs. Many Southeast Asian countries have seen the development of esports startups and organizations, offering services such as game development, tournament organization, and player management. These startups are tapping into the growing demand for esports-related services and are contributing to the growth of the regional esports ecosystem. 

Yamaha Motor sponsorship deal with Evos, Courtesy of Yamaha Motor

Indonesia, one of the largest countries in Southeast Asia, has become a hub for esports in the region. The country’s gaming market has grown significantly in recent years, with a large population of young gamers and a thriving esports scene. According to Reogma.com, the Indonesian mobile games market is expected to reach $2.2 billion by 2025, driven by the popularity of online mobile games such as Free Fire and PUBG Mobile. 

The rise of competitive gaming has transformed the Southeast Asian gaming market, generating significant revenue and attracting major global brands as sponsors. With a large population of young gamers and a thriving esports scene, the region is poised for continued growth in the coming years. As esports continues to gain recognition as a legitimate sport, the Southeast Asian market will likely continue to thrive, offering new opportunities for investors and sponsors.

 

Sources: NewZoo, Nikkei, Hybrid, Reogma

 

Muhammad Mahardika Putra Zaeni

Instagram: @mahardikazaeni

Email: zaenimahardika@gmail.com

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