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Level up: Lessons for mobile game developers in Southeast Asia

Maxim de Wit, Vice President of International, GMGC | Feb. 26, 2015
As the industry gains momentum in this exciting region, it will be critical for home-grown developers to take note of lessons that they can learn from the more established markets.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Southeast Asia has seen a number of developments in the past few years that are making it an increasingly vibrant market for mobile gaming. Growing smartphone penetration and connectivity in the region is contributing to a healthy user base of mobile gamers — and the players in the mobile gaming ecosystem have definitely taken notice. In fact, according to a recent report by Niko Partners, mobile gamers have overtaken PC gamers in Southeast Asia, with the mobile gaming population in the region hitting 119 million in 2014, as compared to 97 million PC online gamers. In terms of revenue, Southeast Asia's mobile gaming market is double in size in the next couple of years, from US$1.1 billion in 2014 to US$2.2 billion in 2017.

Although the dominant 'heavyweights' in the mobile gaming ecosystem in Asia continue to be Japan, China, and Korea, there is great potential for Southeast Asia's mobile game developers to make a mark in their home markets in the coming years. As the industry gains momentum in this exciting region, it will be critical for home-grown developers to take note of lessons that they can learn from the more established markets.

Lesson 1: Know your players.
If there is one particular lesson that mobile game developers should learn from China in particular, it would be knowing your players inside out. China's mobile game developers study everything about their users in detail, from who is playing games and what games are on the top charts to how long games are being played, and when in the day mobile games are being played. This insight is then used to create games that there will be demand for, rather than first creating games and assuming that the game will get played. Chinese developers have seen great success in their home market due to this in-depth knowledge of mobile gamers in the market.

Lesson 2: Go global or go home — but figure out which is best for your game.
However, when it comes to success of Chinese developers abroad — for example in Vietnam or Thailand — in many cases, popularity boils down to similar user preferences and gaming habits, as opposed to any true localisation of the games. This is a key opportunity for local developers in Southeast Asia — the home market is the one that home-grown developers will naturally know better than the international players. Since the local developer scene is still nascent, there is great growth potential for developers and we expect to see them conquering their home markets as they continue to experiment with game styles and monetization models, to find out what works best for them.

 

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