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5 common myths and stereotypes about gamers in Asia Pacific

In this post we dive into the common myths and stereotypes that surround gaming and esports. We surface key data to help marketers better understand the gaming ecosystem and the audiences within it. As much as possible we have focused on Asia Pacific and Southeast Asian gaming audiences.

Stereotype #1: Gaming is niche

There are 2.7 billion gamers in the world, and since 2018 the gaming industry has generated more revenue than the music and film industries combined.

In 2020 the gaming industry is forecast to generate $160bn, with half of that coming from the Asia Pacific region.

75% of APAC revenue comes from China and Japan, but Southeast Asia is the fastest growing gaming market in the world, having grown 14% in 2019 to $4.3bn.

Over 85% of the Southeast Asian online population identify as gamers, much higher than the global average of 63%.

We can break Asia Pacific gaming behaviour down into a funnel of engagement.

  • 1.2 billion people play mobile games.
  • 700m play on PC or console.
  • 400m watch gaming content online.
  • 300m share or broadcast gaming content on their social channels.

Sources: Newzoo, Global Web Index

Stereotype #2: Gaming and esports are the same thing

The words gaming and esports are often used interchangeably, but they mean very different things.

The Oxford Dictionary defines a video game as “a game played by electronically manipulating images produced on a monitor or other display”.

Whereas esports is defined as “a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers”.

Think of gaming as the category, encompassing a wide range of activities, and esport as the competitive sport that spun out of it.

Stereotype #3: Gamers are all teenage boys

The gender split of gamers in Asia Pacific is much more even that most people assume.

Let’s look at the same funnel as we did above, but this time looking at gender distribution.

  • Smartphone gamers: 56% male, 44% female
  • PC and console gamers: 61% male, 39% female
  • Watch gaming content online: 63% male, 37% female
  • Share gaming content online: 59% male, 41% female

The male skew tends to increase as we move down the funnel, but there is still a very significant female audience at every stage.

COVID-19 quarantine drove +13% growth in female gamers, while the number of male gamers grew just +4% in the same period. This suggests more saturation amongst male audiences and a new wave of female gamers entering the ecosystem.

Let’s look at the age distribution of gamers at the more engaged end of the funnel. This is the percentage of each age group that say they watch gaming content online.

  • 16-24 = 41%
  • 25-34 = 35%
  • 35-44 = 30%
  • 45-54 = 21%

Gaming does skew younger, but be cautious about believing the stereotype of ‘gamers = teenage boys’. The demographic profile of gamers in Asia is much more balanced than this.

Sources: Newzoo, Global Web Index

Stereotype #4: Mobile gaming is just Candy Crush

Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that the only games played on mobile phones are casual games like Candy Crush.

Asia Pacific leads the world in mobile gaming, with 76% of the online population playing games on mobile devices.

70% of all gaming revenue in Southeast Asia is driven by mobile titles.

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is one of the biggest MOBA titles in the world, and it’s a mobile game. The game has a well established esports league that runs across Southeast Asia, with significant prize pools.

According to Superdata research, 6 of the top 10 mobile games (ranked by earnings) have esports competitions built around them. This includes games like Honour of Kings and Clash of Clans, the latter of which had a $1m USD prize pool for its 2019 world finals.

Sources: Global Web Index, Moonton, Superdata

Stereotype #5: It’s difficult and expensive for marketers to reach gaming audiences

There are many examples of brands successfully reaching their audiences through gaming.

It’s true that there have been some high effort and high investment brand partnerships with games publishers.

Nike and Louis Vuitton have placed clothing in Fortnite and League of Legends. Marshmello and Travis Scott have done in-game concerts to millions, and Marvel has launched movies including Avengers Endgame by building bespoke game modes in popular titles.

But there are many other ways to reach gaming audiences.

There is a huge events ecosystem around esports. This creates opportunities for brands to host, sponsor and enhance physical and online events.

Marketers can create their own tournaments, hire gamers to promote them and quickly reach huge audiences through mass participation events.

Esports teams have similar operations to traditional sports teams, presenting brands with sponsorship opportunities that reach audiences through events, competition broadcasts, and even merchandising deals.

Then there’s gaming content. Over 400m people in Asia Pacific watch gaming content online, and this is a highly accessible space. Data from StreamElements and Arsenal.gg shows a 99% year-on-year growth of the major gaming content platforms.

Working with popular streamers is one way to integrate your brand and product messaging into this booming content ecosystem with a much lower entry price.