It’s been quite some time since Korea was blocked from acquiring the rights to publish in China. When the entryway to the largest foreign market has been blocked, Korean game companies have turned to Southeast Asian (SEA) market. According to a report made by Newzoo on June, 2018, the Southeast Asian market is in the top 30 game markets of the World. Indonesia alone has a population of 260,000,000 people, and with a market value of $1,130,000,000 USD, it’s ranked 17th in the global markets.
The market value of the major 6 countries in Southeast Asia combined is estimated to be $3,740,000,000 USD. With a population of over 600,000,000 people, the market is rapidly growing. If the infrastructure becomes better and the purchasing power goes up, it has the potential to become a market that can even rival China.
At G-Star 2019, the ASEAN-KOREA CENTRE participated to promote the Southeast Asian market. The ASEAN-KOREA CENTRE is an intergovernmental organization that aids in strengthening the partnership between Korea and Southeast Asia. For the Korean companies that were looking to break into the SEA market, they were able to find out what the market’s like, and receive advice.
Please briefly introduce yourself.
Hello, my name is Lee Hyuk, and I’m the Secretary General of ASEAN-KOREA CENTRE. After being an ambassador for the Philippines and Vietnam, I was appointed in my position on April, 2018. We’re participating at G-Star this year to not only have Korea and SEA break into the global market, but also to strengthen the partnership of SEA and Korea in gaming. We’ve been participating since 2014, so this will be our 6th year in attendance.
Can you tell us what the current state of the SEA game market is like?
This year, 9 ASEAN countries, excluding Vietnam (Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand) is in attendance. Although the rate of industry development is different, the industry in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand has already been developed to a certain level.
Malaysia hosted their 2nd annual game show called ‘Level up KL’ in November, over the course of 4-5 days. Not only did it host the finals of a game tournament, ‘Axis Esports League’, Marvel Games’ Danny Koo also held a developers conference, so it was a major event.
For Singapore, it’s the home of Garena, which publishes 28% of all the games in Singapore, so many distribution-related companies are also growing.
The Mobile games are what’s mainstream in the ASEAN-KOREA market. In Thailand, mobile games take up about 50% of the market, while online games take up about 30%. It’s similar in Indonesia, where the online games take up about 20%.
Different countries have different preferences in game genre as well. For example, horror genre games are popular in Thailand, whereas in Singapore, games like Pokemon GO are popular.
Compared to last year, are there any changes to the booth?
We’ve allowed 4 companies from each country to participate this year, so we were able to have 9 countries participate. We were located in a spot where it was hard to showcase our games, but we’ve located ourselves much better this year.
Is there a game from your booth that you hope to have investments come in from Korea, or a game that you hope to have much attention garnered from users?
At the Big Indie Pitch during last Year’s G-Star, ThinkBIT Solutions and Ranida Games have come in 1st and 2nd place respectively. ThinkBIT Solutions won with their game ‘Brawl Quest’, and it’s a game for players that like the retro-style games. Ranida won with their game ‘Bayani’, which is a 1 vs 1 fighting game that came in 2nd in the PC Indie Pitch category. It’s recommended for players that are looking for something new.
Also, ‘Battlesky Brigade: Tap Tap’, a game by Battlebrew Production will also be playable at our booth this year. It’s a game with cute graphics.
What are the main attractive points of the SEA market?
The respective governments in ASEAN are providing support towards the development of the game industry in various ways. For example, the Singaporean government is supporting the campuses of the game school, DigiPen Institute. The attitudes of these governments led to making esports an official category in this year’s Southeast Asian Games, and such government aid can draw in foreign investments.
The internet and smartphone distribution rate is rapidly growing as well. The Philippines is the prime example here, where it was only 5.2% from 2004 to 2014, but it’s now at over 40%. Thailand’s smartphone distribution rate is at 70%, and 1,700,000 people in Thailand enjoy playing mobile games. With the Chinese government denying all entry for Korean game enterprises, I believe that the SEA market has much potential as a rising market.
What are some of the tips to know before breaking into the market?
As each country has different religions, culture, and political system, you’ll need to plan a marketing strategy based on contents suited for the country. For example, if there’s any contents that mock the royalty in a country, you might not even be denied from the market altogether. Since religions such as Islan and Hindu exist in such countries, you have to be very thorough in what’s allowed and what’s not. Localization on the language, UI, and the payment systems are all very important tasks, so it’s critical that you meet a good partner that operates from the country to cooperate into success.
Lastly, what do you want to say to the Korean investors and gamers?
The ASEAN game market has a ton of potential. In this year’s Southeast Asian Games, it’s unfortunate that no Korean games have not been picked for its esports category. As it’s a market with a ton of potential, I urge investors and enterprises in Korea to proactively take a chance at this market. Also, for those that are looking for new games, I urge them to try out the games from ASEAN.
Striving for perfection to achieve excellence in esports