As Southeast Asia is such a fragmented market, there is a lot of potential for developers to be creating games for their local markets, but they should also be keeping an eye on what is happening on the regional and global scale. In our recent conference, Mobile Game Asia 2015 Bangkok, we held an Indie Pitch Arena, which invited indie developers pitch the initial versions of their games for a chance to win a grand prize of US$2,000. A number of the entries we saw from developers in the region were made in English instead of their local languages, which is great to see — it's clear that these developers already have their eye on a broader market.
Lesson 3: Monetisation models are not one-size-fits-all.
While the dominant model at the moment is the freemium model, the challenge that the industry as a whole faces with this model is that it relies heavily on a very small percentage of players generating all of the revenue. Although it is the 'reigning' model at the moment, and will continue to reign for the coming years, the industry really needs to have a think about a more sustainable approach to monetizing mobile games.
One approach that is working well for some developers is incentivised advertisements. Incentivising ads allows players to choose to watch a short advertisement in return for a reward, such as an extra life, or in-game currency. As a result, users are happy because they're choosing to interact with the ad to further their game-play, and don't have to pay a cent to do so; on the other hand, the developers still get paid — which is fantastic.
The key challenge for monetisation in Southeast Asia is the lack of available payment solutions in the region. There's already a lot of discussion about e-commerce and payment platforms, but as the payment arena matures in Southeast Asia, we'll be seeing more monetisation models emerge as mobile payments becomes easier and more readily available.
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