02 Feb Where You Should Publish a Mobile Game in Asia
Asia accounts for 55% of the world’s mobile game revenues. Home to developed markets such as Japan, booming markets like China, and a handful of up-and-coming markets, an Asia strategy is crucial to the success of any mobile studio. This blog post will look at Asia’s “Big Three” markets, the top Southeast Asian gaming countries, and India’s lurking revenue potential so that you can choose which market to prioritize when planning to publish a mobile game in Asia.
The Big Three
Between China, Japan, and South Korea, the “Big Three” countries currently make up 90% of Asia’s mobile game earnings.
Given that Oniix publishes games in China, our blog covers this market extensively. As the world’s largest mobile game market, China has more than 360 million mobile gamers and strong smartphone penetration growth. However, with fragmented distribution and a strong preference for localized content, one must take a focused and local approach to successfully publish a mobile game in China.
As the original leader in Asia’s gaming scene, Japan boasts high-spending mobile gamers. However, due to local talent and a strong gaming culture (from 2001 to 2013, there were no foreign-made video game titles in the top 100 games), only a few games succeed there. In fact, the top 2 games claim 70-80% of the country’s mobile revenues.
Korea’s mobile market is highly developed, with incredibly high smartphone penetration. Distribution and promotion are largely achieved through Duam KaKao, the dominant local messaging app. Although more receptive to foreign content than the Japanese, local competition is certainly fierce, with local studios often providing fresh content and updates every 2 weeks.
Although currently a very small part of the worldwide mobile gaming market, the Southeast Asian market will double by 2017. No doubt, it is a promising region of very young spenders. Here are the biggest markets in the region:
Home to the creator of Flappy Bird, Vietnam currently boasts some of the world’s highest smartphone growth rates. Content based off Chinese culture is quite popular and you can’t go wrong with a MMORPG.
Here’s a mind-blowing stat: Indonesians spend 29% of their time playing games (that’s 2x the world average)! This market is certainly worth monitoring.
About 1/4 of Malaysians are Chinese, so a China-localized game can also make waves here.
Thailand has very active social media users, so social integrations and an aggressive strategy on networks like Facebook, Instagram and Line are essential.
Southeast Asia’s third largest smartphone market, the Philippines,
still has only about 40% smartphone penetration. Given low penetration and very high English proficiency, this market is certain to boom.
With a GDP per capita much higher than SEA’s average, Singapore is home to a variety of mobile game studios. Foreign content thrives here, so if you plan to publish a mobile game in Asia, there’s little reason not to include Singapore.
Generally, Southeast Asia is a straightforward region in which to publish a mobile game. Gamers are active on Western social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Furthermore, English proficiency is high, with significantly lower localization barriers to entry than in China. A main key to success in South East Asia? Compatibility with lower-end devices, as this region is generally not as wealthy as Asia’s Big Three.
For an awesome overview of the Southeast Asian market, check out this Gamasutra post by Jacob Stempniewicz.
India is sometimes referred to as “The Next China”. With a massive population that is rapidly becoming wealthier and more willing to spend on games, it is now the fastest growing mobile games market in the world. Whereas China’s mobile gamers are maturing and therefore spending more money and downloading larger games on more advanced devices, India’s users are just discovering the wonders of mobile gaming. Unlike China’s Alibaba-frienzied consumers, Indian smartphone users aren’t comfortable paying for something on their phones. The Indian mobile gaming market is only expected to generate $0.7 billion in 2016, the size of China’s market back in 2010.
So… Where Should You Publish a Mobile Game in Asia?
Asia’s mobile game market includes both mature and rapidly developing countries. However, most of the revenue potential of Asias mobile gaming markets is constricted for outside games due to either dominant local players or an immature marketplace.
Only China provides strong and attainable revenue potential, high growth, and surmountable barriers to entry with an appropriate approach. That being said, the entire Asian mobile gaming market has a promising future. The marke tundoubtedly will grow as a leading priority for gaming studios and we advise any studio to create a plan to publish a mobile game in Asia in the coming years.
photo credit: Carla Cometto