Video games in Asia: locked and loaded
The mass enjoyment of video games isn’t new but evolutions in technology have opened them up to a much wider demographic. Mobile devices have extended the reach of video games from hardcore gamers with dedicated game consoles, to casual gamers of all ages playing on the go during their commute.
Additionally, widespread broadband adoption has raised the profile of multi-player games to levels on par with professional sports: The "League of Legends" World Championship in November 2019 filled stadiums in various countries and brought in more than 100 million viewers, including a peak of 44 million concurrent viewers during the competition's final round.
So, what impact has the coronavirus pandemic had on the gaming industry in the Asia-Pacific region and how does its popularity compare to the other forms of entertainment available? To answer this question, we measured video games audiences’ sizes during the January to May 2020 period in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Video games audiences during the pandemic
The first step was to analyse how audience sizes trended during the pandemic. Specifically, we measured the number of unique individuals across both desktop and mobile devices who visited sites or apps where they could play online video games or find information about video games. Examples of the former include minecraft.net, king.com. Examples of the latter include twitch.tv, steamcommunity.com.
From the table below, is it clear that variations in unique visitors correspond roughly with the timing of the lockdowns of the respective countries. By May 2020, lockdowns were relaxed in many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and economic activity had resumed. However, despite life returning to ‘normal’, audience levels for the gaming category have remained high in all countries. There are some exceptions to this: namely China and Vietnam. So, while there’s a possibility that the increased popularity gained during the lockdown could subside somewhat as life returns to normal, it seems that some of the increase will last.
How video games compare to alternative forms of entertainment
It is clear that online gaming has grown its audience during the coronavirus pandemic, however, how does this compare to alternative forms of entertainment? To answer this question, we measured the size of audiences of sites and apps in the Entertainment category and compared it with that of the Games category.
Here the ‘Entertainment’ category includes music and movie streaming services, as well as entertainment news. The results, displayed in the table below, show that in all countries that were considered the size of the gaming audience increased in size relative to the Entertainment category. In fact, for some countries such as India, Indonesia and Malaysia, video games audiences reach nearly two thirds of the size of Entertainment audiences. This data demonstrates the importance and potential of video games as a marketing channel: such large audiences present an opportunity for advertisers to target millions of consumers from a wide demographic.
To conclude, the popularity of video games has increased during the various lockdowns in the Asia-Pacific region. More importantly, its relative importance (i.e. compared to alternative forms of entertainment) has increased as well. This audience should be a focus for advertisers looking to reach a vast and varied audience, at scale.