The Video Gaming Market

By Piers Lee

In 2017, the video gaming market is estimated to be worth around US$ 109 billion, generated from around 2.2 billion gamers worldwide, with revenue up 7.8% on the previous year.  A significant proportion of this revenue is now made up of gamers in the populous Asian markets, where access to games via mobiles is increasing the fastest.

In partnership with BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Asia, a leading video games developer, BVA BDRC undertook a comprehensive review of the gaming market across Asia involving a survey of 16+ year olds who game at least every month.

Based on the BVA BDRC survey, general participation rates in gaming among 16+ year olds ranged from 36-54% with the highest occurrence of gamers found in Indonesia and Korea.  The most intense gamers, however, (in terms of hours a week) were found in Thailand and the Philippines.

Participation in gaming spans all age groups, even those in their 40s.  Often, the older gamers were introduced to gaming when the technology was very new, e.g. arcades in the 80s, and with the advent of hand held devices in the 90s.  Some simply never grow out of gaming, while others relive this category when they start families and get drawn back into playing with their own children.  Some games are actually reaching out specifically to older gamers such as strategy and simulation games.

Even though video gaming has a male bias, females are well represented in this market.  While certain games such as puzzles are more popular with females, a range of genres are played by females including sports, racing, fighting and battle games.

There is a huge array of games in the market distributed either through traditional retail or through online downloads.  Based on BVA BDRC’s research, the preferred gaming genres vary a lot by geographic market and by the type of gamer.  But the general motives for gaming are quite consistent across markets and consumer groups: the desire of gamers to meet challenges (winning and gaining power) combined with fantasy (adventure and discovery).

But the design of games is a fine art. Needing the right balance of challenge and difficulty.  A bit like novels, the game needs to draw the gamer in, but not make the play too difficult, and encourage the gamer to progress further.

Gaming has to deliver a user experience which includes good audio and visual effects.  While the most growth in gaming is seen in mobile gaming, traditional TV console gaming has also grown 3.6% in the last year.

Another key success factor for games is relatability.  Based on our Asia research in the theme parks category, what makes for more successful theme parks is having familiar characters, such as those taken from movies or well-known toys such as LEGO.  Indeed, Malaysia is opening several movie-based theme parks in the next year and LEGOLAND is one of the most popular theme parks in SE Asia.  For gaming, we see demand for games based on manga and anime (Japanese comic books and animation).

But like other forms of entertainment, gaming has its fair share of problems associated with piracy.  Over half of gamers in our survey admit they sometimes buy unofficial gaming disks, even in highly policed markets like Singapore.  But the industry is fighting back, with game developers promoting their games through events and by nurturing relations with game distributors.  27% of gamers across Asia are today buying games at least once-a-month.

Despite the development of digital downloads, the traditional retail channel in Asia is as common for the purchase of games as online.  While price and promotion is a key consideration in game purchases, some gamers are quite discerning and choose to buy where they can access exclusive games and where they have relationships with specialist retailers.  We also found that traditional advertising still has a role in promoting games, with 29% of consumers hearing of new games through gaming magazines.

Hence gaming developers need to develop multiple channel strategies for sales, and of course keep on innovating!

For more information on BVA BDRC’s specialist gaming research, contact my colleague, Max Willey (max.willey@bdrc.co.uk).

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