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Niko Partners 2022 Asia Video Game Industry Predictions

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Niko Partners Predictions for the 2022 Asia Games Market
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1. MENA-3 games market revenue will surpass $2 billion in 2022

Niko Partners initiated coverage on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt for the first time in 2022. We call this region MENA-3 in our reports and expect combined games revenue across all platforms to surpass $2 billion this year. Growth will be driven by higher spending per user, additional government support across games and esports, and more gamers entering the market.

2. India will have over 400 million gamers in 2022 

We predict India will surpass 400 million gamers this year, accounting for over ¼ of total gamers in Asia. We also believe that India, the fastest growing market in Asia, will be the next market to reach $1 billion. Niko Partners has often talked about how the ITV markets, referring to Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, would be the next billion-dollar games markets. These three markets have surpassed $1 billion individually over the past two years.

3. Game approvals in China will restart in early 2022 

China’s video game regulator has not approved any new titles since July 22, 2021. There were only 755 titles approved in 2021, compared to 1,411 in 2020. With the roll out of the national anti-addiction and real name identification system now complete, we expect approvals to restart in early 2022.

4. China’s regulatory approach will shift from reform to enforcement

China’s video game regulator introduced new policies in 2021, primarily aimed at curbing gaming addiction among minors. We expect the regulator to shift away from policy reform in 2022, as it looks to ensure compliance with current regulations. We are already starting to see a crackdown on companies that are curbing regulations and we have upgraded the risk of a Steam International ban in China to high.

5. Game companies in China will increase focus on exports 

Chinese game companies have dominated their home market and found success overseas with mobile games. With increased investment in AAA game development, local indie studios and the ongoing regulatory risk at home, we expect Chinese game companies to start finding success on all platforms overseas in 2022 and beyond.

6. Esports will become more legitimate in 2022

In 2017 the International Olympic Committee recognized esports as a sport, in 2018 esports was a demonstration event at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia and in 2022 Esports will be a medal event at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. This will lead to more investment in esports player pipelines and player development. 2022 will enjoy an increase in esports training, education, subsidies aimed at esports management, player development.

7. Cross Platform and Cross Play will be a staple of new titles in 2022

The success of multi-platform titles such as Genshin Impact, the widespread adoption of scalable game engines such as Unreal Engine and Unity as well as the demand for interoperability between devices has led to players valuing cross platform experiences with cross play. We expect some of the largest game studios in China, South Korea, and Japan to introduce titles that run across PC, Console, Mobile and Cloud with cross play enabled.

8. 5G will be available across all 14 markets we cover in 2022 

5G has been rolling out across numerous markets in Asia since South Korea launched 5G services in April 2019. This has led to increased download speeds, lower latency and helped enable cloud gaming on the go. Malaysia, Vietnam, India and Egypt are the four markets we cover that have yet to roll out 5G. We expect them to start their roll out by the end of the year.

9. M&A / Investments / IPOs will continue to play an important role  

2021 was a record year for game related investments, especially in China where the number of transactions doubled compared to the prior year. Tencent alone invested in or acquired more than 100 game related companies last year. We expect M&A / Investments to continue playing a notable role in 2022 and beyond as the value of IP, development talent and new technologies become more important. While there may be a lower number of deals closed in 2022, we believe the overall value will continue to remain high.

10. Gaming companies will capitalize on the metaverse trend better than tech companies, but it’s still too early for the concept

Metaverse became a hot word in 2021 with numerous tech and gaming companies embracing the concept. Niko Partners believes that live service video games have been building towards the metaverse concept for several years and that companies with experience in both video game development and social media platform operation will have an advantage when entering this space. We expect game focused companies to see the initial benefits of the metaverse trend while tech first companies will struggle to offer value to users. However, we don’t expect to see a true metaverse experience in 2022 based on the currently accepted definitions.

11. The convergence of video games and the entertainment industry further engages gamers 

The video game industry is building on the concepts of metaverse, pan-entertainment and transmedia which is leading to a convergence between games and entertainment. We expect to see more traditional brands, entertainment properties and artists take advantage of live service games in 2022. On the flip side, we expect to see more collaboration between video game IP holders and traditional entertainment such as movies, TV, and comics. This bi-directional approach will further engage gamers in the future.

12. Blockchain game adoption increases, but the space remains experimental 

Blockchain based games made headlines in 2021 and VCs have invested billions in them. The past year has seen the rise of blockchain based non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in games and the exploration of the Play to Earn (P2E) model. We expect to see new innovative game projects in 2022 and increased adoption of blockchain games. However, the numerous barriers to entry, lack of regulation and questions around sustainability will keep the space experimental in 2022.

13. The local game development scene will grow in developing markets 

Of the 14 markets we cover, Japan, South Korea, and China are considered game development powerhouses due to the hit titles released by domestic developers. The success of Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis (publisher of Axie Infinity) and a 2x increase in local game development studios in India since 2019 shows there is growing talent in these emerging markets. We expect to see the release of a hit game ($100m+ revenue) released by a studio from Southeast Asia or India in 2022.

14. The conversation regarding app store take rates will extend into 2022

The Epic v Apple case made headlines in 2021 and it indirectly led to Apple and Google reducing take rates for developers that earn less than $1m per year. In South Korea, a new bill required Apple and Google to offer alternative in app payment options. In China, TapTap made headlines for offering a 0% take rate and numerous developers have invested in direct distribution to avoid app store fees. As pressure continues to build, we expect platform holders to make further concessions in 2022.

15. Increasing government support towards local game development across SEA

In 2021, governments became increasingly supportive of the video game sector. Vietnam’s government took an active role in the creation of Vietnam Online Game Developers and Publishers Alliance (which will be formally established in 2022), Indonesia’s government showed support towards local game developers through fundings and infrastructure support, and Malaysia’s government continue to allocate specific national budget for gaming and esports. We anticipate more of this in 2022.

16. Korea and Japan to continue deregulation of the gaming and esports industry

Following Korea’s abolishment of the 10-year-old Shutdown Law and looking at Japan’s increasing interest in esports, we expect that both countries will continue to ease regulations or even move towards deregulation of certain laws or ordinances that hamper the growth of the gaming and esports industry. While an overhaul of the regulatory environment might not be feasible, small changes will be possible to occur in 2022.

Check our 2021 predictions accuracy here. All our predictions came true, except for #7 as a freeze on game approvals in China led to a lower number of import games being approved in 2021 vs 2020.

Asia

AFK Gaming announces India’s first-ever premium insights dashboard for esports analytics

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In a bid to provide authentic data and unparalleled insights into the nation’s esports industry, AFK Gaming has announced the beta launch of ‘AFK Gaming Insights’, India’s first-ever premium analytics dashboard.

This first-of-its-kind powerful tool offers real-time data and analytics to help users, brands and other stakeholders make informed decisions and stay ahead in the esports landscape of the country.

AFK Gaming Insights features three core analytics modules:
Tournaments Analytics: Access detailed information on prize pools, sponsors, players, teams, and more. This module provides a comprehensive view of the financial and competitive aspects of esports tournaments, enabling users to strategize effectively.

User Analytics: Discover valuable insights into demographics, occupations, interests, income ranges, spending habits, and more. This data helps users understand the diverse backgrounds and behaviours of the Indian gaming community, facilitating targeted marketing and engagement efforts.
Social Analytics: Track key metrics such as Instagram followers, YouTube subscribers, and the country’s top live streamers.

Expressing his enthusiasm on the beta launch of AFK Gaming Insights, Nishant Patel, Co-founder and CEO of AFK Gaming stated, “AFK Gaming Insights is a product built to address a critical market need. In the absence of reliable data to aid their decision making, key stakeholders in the Indian gaming, esports and youth culture industries have been struggling to make informed decisions. With this launch, we hope to empower tournament organizers, brand managers, team owners and industry observers with a single source of truth that they can turn to for industry knowledge and information that will drive the sector’s growth as a whole.”

According to a report by Niko Partners, India is the fastest-growing gaming market, with over 450 million gamers and more than USD 830 million revenue generated in 2023. This expansive market requires a platform that enables stakeholders and brands to access insights on the go and use these metrics for their engagement and campaigns.

To address this, AFK Gaming Insights, which will be available exclusively to annual subscribers, has been devised to cater to a diverse spectrum of users. For newcomers, the dashboard serves as an entry point, providing information that helps them understand trends, player performances and tournament dynamics.

Gamers can optimise their strategies and refine their performances while hardcore audiences will benefit from the deeper insights on their favourite gamers and teams’ social media engagements, viewerships and tournament statistics. For example, the tool reveals that Total Gaming is currently the most viewed Indian gaming YouTuber, with an average of 4.25 million views per video over the last month.

On the other hand, industry stakeholders can leverage detailed analytics into market trends, audience behaviours and sponsorship opportunities to make strategic decisions. For instance, the dashboard uncovers significant trends, such as the fact that more Indian gamers spend money on a daily basis rather than not spending at all.

This pioneering platform promises to redefine the analysis of competitive gaming and change the way esports is perceived in the country.

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Asia

Gen.G Launches Official 2024 Summer Jersey with LIBILLY

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Global esports organisation Gen.G announced their newest apparel collaboration with LIBILLY, a Seoul streetwear culture-based brand led by rapper Changmo. The “2024 Gen.G x LIBILLY Collection” represents icons of youth and passion in cross-cultural scenes; the two brands are teaming up to promote K-culture worldwide, beyond Korea’s domestic stage.

“Every year, we are proud that we get to be a part of some of the biggest esports moments in the world. This year, we are excited to partner with Changmo and the team at LIBILLY to introduce a new kit during such a historic season,” Arnold Hur, CEO of Gen.G Esports, said.

The new collection with LIBILLY consists of six pieces, including the official jersey and jacket as well as short-sleeved t-shirts, sweatshirts and ball caps featuring both organisations’ logos. The official jersey, accented in Gen.G’s signature gold colour, is designed to be breathable and comfortable for both players and fans to wear. Gen.G’s iconic slogan “Change the Game” is printed on it to encourage fans to collect. LIBILLY is the latest in a series of successful lifestyle collaborations for Gen.G, with brands like The Hundreds, PUMA and Heron Preston in past years.

The lifestyle apparel features a mashup of Gen.G adorable mascot “Genrang” wearing clothes with LIBILLY’s symbol “031” logo, among other cobranded apparel items. Images of the Gen.G League of Legends team, currently competing in Riyadh for the 2024 Esports World Cup, have captured the hearts and minds of fans since they first leaked.

“I’m excited to wear new uniforms this season through our collaboration with the hip and young brand LIBILLY. It was fun to try out and shoot content in a different look than we did before, so I hope the fans enjoy it as much as we enjoyed this process,” said Gen.G’s Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Gen.G, a representative of the esports scene. We hope that this collection, which reinterprets the passionate brand image of Gen.G from our perspective and expresses it in a new dimension, will be a meaningful gift to Gen.G fans around the world. We also look forward to the various collaborative activities that Gen.G and LIBILLY will continue to launch,” said rapper Changmo, head of LIBILLY.

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Asia

FINAL CALL FOR ENTRIES FOR PAGCOR PHOTO CONTEST 2024

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With only three weeks left before the July 31 deadline, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation is calling all photography enthusiasts to submit their final entries for the 2024 PAGCOR Photography Contest with the theme, “Harvest Time”.

Interested amateur and professional photographers have until 10 p.m. on July 31 to submit their entries which should highlight the Filipino’s strength, patience and hard work during harvest season.

The images may also depict the dedication of farmers, fishers and other workers who help ensure the country’s food production and sustainability through the harvest of their crops and seafood products.

“We invite all those who have not yet submitted their entries to start uploading them now through the PAGCOR website as the submission deadline draws nearer,” PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro H. Tengco said.

The PAGCOR chief said the agency has allocated a total of Php2.23 million for this year’s cash prizes to honor the outstanding work of Filipino photographers and to promote the country’s rich traditions.

The contest’s main categories are the Conventional Category for photos taken using all types of digital cameras; Mobile for entries taken using mobile devices like smartphones and tablets; and Drone – a newly added category – for aerial photos taken using drone-mounted cameras.

Each of the eight winners from the Conventional Category is ensured of a Php100,000.00 cash prize while each of the 16 winners from the drone and mobile categories will take home Php50,000.00 each,” Mr. Tengco said.

“We are also giving away Php35,000.00 to each of the eight consolation prize winners from the Conventional Category and Php20,000.00 to each of the 16 grand finalists from the Drone and Mobile categories,” the PAGCOR chief added.

PAGCOR has also lowered the age eligibility from 18 to 16 years old to encourage more participation, especially among the youth.

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