爲什麼現在是瞄準東南亞市場的好時機?

作者:Jacob Stempniewicz

爲什麼是東南亞?

東南亞的區域面積有將近450萬平方公里,大概是美國國土面積的一半。這一區域是由以下國家所構成:

沿海:印度尼西亞,東馬來西亞,新加坡,菲律賓,東帝汶,文萊

大陸(俗稱印度支那):柬埔寨,老撾,緬甸,泰國,越南和西馬來西亞。

20世紀,因爲經濟與政治上的動盪,這些國家擁有各種不同的命運,但從整體上看來它們還是呈現快速發展的態勢。在過去十年裏,該區域的平均年增長率超過了5%。如果將東南亞算成一個國家來看,它便會是世界上的第九大經濟區。

southeast asia(from gamasutra)

southeast asia(from gamasutra)

最近,該區域更是開始追趕發達世界,並且這裏也成爲了包括手機遊戲在內的一個巨大市場。整個東南亞的經濟發展前景,龐大的人口以及快速發展的互聯網連接(特別是手機方面)都標誌着這裏具有非常穩定的遊戲發展。此外,對於外國公司來說,相比中國或俄羅斯,東南亞還是一個比較容易進入的市場。許多已經成功攻克西方市場的日本,韓國和中國的遊戲公司已經開始將自己的注意力轉向東南亞,因爲不管是從地理還是(遊戲)文化看來這裏都與本國更相近。同時,西方公司也發現了這一潛力並開始在東南亞設立辦公室並進行內容本土化。所以東南亞正逐漸成爲手機遊戲的一大關鍵戰場,特別是噹噹地市場還未被當地公司所分割時。

爲什麼是手機遊戲?

根據Newzoo,2014年全球手機市場已經創造了245億美元,即手機和平板電腦分別創造了33%與57%的增長率。並且在今後幾年裏這種發展趨勢仍將繼續延伸,到2017年手機市場將會創造超過400億美元的收益。儘管全新平板電腦的單位銷量並不樂觀,但是平板電腦上的遊戲收益卻比智能手機遊戲收益發展更爲迅速,從而使平板電腦成爲了一個關鍵遊戲設備。

global mobile revenues(from gamasutra)

global mobile revenues(from gamasutra)

較高的手機增長率是受到有機增長,整體市場的發展以及同類相食的增長的推動,並且是以其它領域的衰敗爲代價。除了手機發展一開始所創造的“傷亡”(如掌上游戲機,在線休閒和社交遊戲)外,Newzoo還注意到PC遊戲和MMO遊戲出現了較爲緩慢的發展(因爲需要與手機設備分攤消費)。從收益來看,在2015年手機已經成爲最大的遊戲平臺。付費玩家的增多以及玩家遊戲時間的增長不斷推動着西方市場的發展,與此同時伴隨着網絡連接的發展,智能手機滲透率的提高以及3G和4G連接的實現也推動着像東南亞等新興市場的快速發展。

東南亞的手機遊戲

手機遊戲主導着東南亞市場。2015年,手機遊戲收益幾乎佔據東南亞市場總收益(140億美元)的一半。到2017年,手機收益將以每年56%的增長率發展,並達到130億美元。而推動這一快速發展的一大根源便是該區域不斷髮展的手機網絡連接。

東南亞中的六個國家佔據了該區域手機遊戲市場份額的最大比例。這六個國家分別是印度尼西亞,馬來西亞,菲律賓,新加坡,泰國和越南。這六個國家的總人口已經達到東南亞總人口的90%。該區域中年輕人佔據了巨大的比例。這一點也讓東南亞在世界經濟體系中擁有強大的競爭優勢。

到2017年,東南亞遊戲市場的收益將翻兩番,即達到220億美元。並且從遊戲收益來看,泰國將仍然作爲東南亞最大的市場,緊接着便是印度尼西亞和馬來西亞。新加坡仍繼續發展,但其市場份額將輸給那些發展更快的國家。而越南與泰國將與整體市場同步發展去保持自己的市場份額。

在該區域,遊戲是人們使用手機設備的最大目的之一。根據谷歌的調查,在這六大東南亞市場中有超過1/3的智能手機擁有者在過去七天裏至少會玩一次遊戲。我們可以在iOS App Store和Google Play上看到該區域強大的手機遊戲用戶,特別是在與世界上最大且最具影響力的應用市場韓國相比較時。在2014年12月,印度尼西亞的遊戲下載量已經達到韓國的90%。而擁有較低下載量的越南也將近韓國遊戲下載量的一半。

mobile game downloads(from gamasutra)

mobile game downloads(from gamasutra)

儘管這裏擁有較高的遊戲下載量,但其應用商店收益仍然處於較早的發展階段,就像第二張圖表上所顯示的那樣。

mobile game downloads(from gamasutra)

mobile game downloads(from gamasutra)

值得注意的是應用商店收益只是這些國家整體手機遊戲機遇中的一部分。發行商也經常會使用廣告和其它間接或基於補貼的盈利策略去補充遊戲從應用內部購買,付費下載以及應用內部廣告中所創造的直接收益。IAP與廣告之間的裂縫正在不斷變大。一些發行商已經開始提供遊戲內部貨幣去取代觀看廣告的設置。就像韓國那樣,馬來西亞和泰國都是較爲傳統的亞洲在線PC遊戲市場,從2000年代以來人們纔開始習慣於花錢玩在線遊戲。同時根據Euromonitor在2014年上半年的一系列研究,比起其它三個市場,馬來西亞和泰國擁有更高的每年可支配收入與信用卡滲透率。而那些願意且有能力在馬來西亞和泰國消費的玩家將引導着這兩個國家的手機遊戲盈利的發展。

東南亞手機遊戲的迅猛發展

看着東南亞市場的快速發展是很有趣的。從2013年到2014年,智能手機在印度尼西亞的滲透率從13.8%發展到21.3%,並且在2015年將達到26.3%,即將創造出超過6000萬的消費者。同樣地,根據Global Connected Consumer2014年的研究,現在已經有36%的越南人擁有智能手機,這一數值是過去一年的兩倍。從歷史上來看,印度尼西亞和越南在經濟方面一直落後於馬來西亞和泰國,即這些國家擁有較低的PC和網絡滲透率。所以智能手機和手機網絡在這類型市場中取得了更大的變革,因爲它們面對的是拿些缺少發達的地上通訊網絡設備的較低收入用戶。手機遊戲將通過提供可支付且具有吸引力的娛樂形式(遊戲邦注:即用戶能夠隨時隨地訪問這些內容)而推動應用的發展。有趣的是,收益的發展更迅速。這五個東南亞國家在iOS和Google Play上的總收益從2013年到2014年整整翻了兩倍。越南和馬來西亞更是擁有最高的增長率,即分別爲150%和115%。甚至在擁有最低增長率的泰國,其手機遊戲收益也增長了75%。

國家間的差異

在過去十年裏,不同的經濟條件與電信基礎設施在新興的東南亞市場的個人計算機設備滲透與互聯網使用方面扮演着關鍵角色。結果便是消費者將擁有不同的應用與手機行爲和喜好。像印度尼西亞和菲律賓等較不發達的國家並不能吸引太多來自應用發行商的注意。這些國家的手機遊戲趨勢大多都是受到西方市場的影響,同時也會受到中國,日本和韓國的影響。在印度尼西亞,像《部落戰爭》和《Candy Crush Saga》這樣具有全球知名度的遊戲在2014年12月於收益排行榜中的排名是第五,而下載量排名則是第七。而在菲律賓的排名是收益第五,下載量第七。然而與在日本和韓國不同的是,Supercell和Kind並未依賴於電視和戶外廣告活動去獲取用戶或提升排名。似乎在這五個新興東南亞市場中的發展都更加有機化。在印度尼西亞和菲律賓,用戶獲取更多是通過像Facebook等自動化廣告渠道。

top 10 games(from gamasutra)

top 10 games(from gamasutra)

藍色:全球/西方遊戲 黃色:亞太區遊戲 紫色:東南亞遊戲 綠色:LINE遊戲

top 10 games(from gamasutra)

top 10 games(from gamasutra)

藍色:全球/西方遊戲 黃色:亞太區遊戲 紫色:東南亞遊戲 綠色:LINE遊戲

而越南,泰國和馬來西亞的故事與印度尼西亞和菲律賓有所不同。因爲擁有更優越的經濟條件和基礎設施,所以這些國家也擁有更強大的PC滲透率與互聯網使用率,這也爲它們的PC在線遊戲發展奠定了基礎。在過去十年裏。來自中國,日本和韓國的遊戲公司通過在這裏建立附屬公司或給予當地合作者遊戲授權而進入了這些市場。在2014年12月,像《Summoners War》,《Dot Arena》和《Castle Clash》等側重內容的亞洲角色扮演遊戲或策略遊戲在馬來西亞,泰國和越南的收益排行分別爲第五,第四和第六。印度尼西亞和泰國擁有最多玩家—-將近50%的玩家在此購買手機遊戲。而新加坡的付費手機玩家數相對最低,但是在這裏每個玩家所消費的數額卻相對更高。

移動通訊平臺和遊戲

在中國,日本和韓國,消息應用不斷延伸着自己的功能並變成了連接新用戶與遊戲和在線服務的橋樑。而在去年這一趨勢也延伸到了東南亞市場。Andovar的客戶LINE便是該區域的市場領導者。2014年12月,在馬來西亞,印度尼西亞和泰國,LINE在應用排行榜上佔據着第一名的位置,同時它也在下載排行榜前20名內。在菲律賓和越南,儘管LINE並未出現在前10下載排行榜單中,但其收益仍在前10。而微信在馬來西亞的滲透率也很高,可以說是該國另一大通訊應用領頭軍。儘管在該區域還有像Viber,Facebook Messenger和BBM等受歡迎的通訊應用,但LINE仍然是創造巨大的遊戲組合的大功臣。不過在其它東南亞市場中,通訊平臺還處於較早的發展階段。一旦它們能夠吸引足夠的應用去利用這樣的網絡效應,它們便能夠將遊戲和服務傳遞給大量的用戶基礎。像Viber和Tango等西方通訊應用也希望能夠憑藉這一趨勢將遊戲整合到自己的平臺而賺取更大利益。在2014年獲得來自阿里巴巴的2.5億美元的投資的Tango已經擁有超過2.5億註冊用戶以及大量的遊戲(遊戲邦注:不管是國內還是國外)。根據該公司所提供的信息,遊戲在Tango平臺上比不在該平臺上擁有超過2至3倍的用戶終身價值。2月份的時候,Viber爲其2.36億月活躍用戶提供了遊戲服務,並在這五個國家成功進行了兩個月試運行。

該區域與其它區域的區別

在看到了手機遊戲的需求後,許多來自亞洲的PC和主機遊戲發行商很快便轉向了手機爲主的運行策略。那時候,投資社區不斷往這個市場中投錢並創建更多公司去爭奪在手機領域的主導地位。在中國,日本和韓國,手機遊戲競爭從未如此激烈,一些充滿鬥志的發行商們不斷尋找着全新機遇。而東南亞市場便成爲他們的下一個目標,就像在其它市場那樣,遊戲也將引領該區域的發展。就像下圖所示,東南亞的發展速度比拉美和東歐等同樣的新興區域更迅速。

underlying growth factors in SEA(from gamasutra)

underlying growth factors in SEA(from gamasutra)

儘管中國也是一個具有較快發展速度以及龐大人口的巨大市場,但是對於西方手機發行商來說要進入東南亞市場更加簡單。因爲這裏擁有較低的競爭率,較少的規則以及關於Google Play和iTunes App Store等西方國家傳統的分銷渠道的廣泛使用率。在菲律賓,西方遊戲是最受歡迎的,即佔據了遊戲排行前列的65%。而在泰國,排行前列遊戲中只有35%是來自西方國家,這也是六大東南亞國家中最低的比例。到目前爲止King和Supercell是最具主導性的西方發行商,我們總是可以再該區域的每一個前20名排行榜中找到她們的遊戲。

此外東南亞還具有許多與西方國家一樣的社交網絡選擇。就像在越南95%使用手機社交網站或聊天應用的人都是選擇Facebook。而在該區域Facebook用戶最少的國家是印度尼西亞,但其用戶仍然高達78%。在這裏Twitter和Instagram也很受歡迎,就像泰國的Siam Paragon是2013年Instagram上最多人定位的位置。

Android還是iOS?

在五大新興東南亞市場中(遊戲邦注:越南。馬來西亞,菲律賓,泰國和印度尼西亞),從安裝率看來,Android的影響力超過了iOS。因爲該區域的購買力普遍偏低,所以價格較低的Android設備更佔優勢。2014年,Google Play所創造的手機遊戲下載量是iOS App Store在五個新興東南亞國家的手機遊戲下載量總和的4倍。這兩大平臺間的最大差距出現在印度尼西亞,在這裏Google Play的規模是iOS的9倍大。而最小的區別則在越南,Google Play的規模是iOS的3倍大。而在2014年,iOS仍維持着其在遊戲盈利的主導地位,並且在上述五個市場中的總盈利數是Google Play的1.3倍。在泰國,越南,印度尼西亞和菲律賓,iOS App Store的主導性大概是在1.3倍至2倍。而馬來西亞應該是唯一一個在2014年Google Play收益未低於iOS App Store的國家。從每年的發展來看,不管是下載量還是收益,Google Play的發展速度都快於iOS。在這五個東南亞市場中,Google Play在2014年的下載量增長了65%,並遠遠超過了iOS。同時,Google Play的收益增長了將近220%,而iOS只有45%。因爲比起2013年的iOS,Google Play是從較低的起點開始增長,但在這短短的一年內它的確擁有驚人的增長速度。

year over year growth comparison(from gamasutra)

year over year growth comparison(from gamasutra)

2015年2月,Google在菲律賓和印度尼西亞發佈了Android One設備,並承諾之後會推出更多產品。Android One是針對於發展中國家而設計的一組智能手機,即側重於讓人們購買他們的第一款智能手機。Android One智能手機將運行Google Mobile Services並能夠基於谷歌所提供的硬件設計參考。因爲谷歌深入參與硬件和軟件標準,所以便減低了製造商去創造具有更高性價比的手機的研究與開發成本,而這也是發展新興經濟的市場份額的關鍵。

東南亞國家的語言

儘管因爲國際業務以及流行文化的關係,該區域所有國家的居民都很熟悉英語,但卻不是每個國家的居民都能流利地使用這門語言。在新加坡和菲律賓,英語是作爲他們的第二官方語言。在馬來西亞,英語是第二活躍語言,而在其它東南亞國家裏,英語通常只是用於業務場合中。另一方面,在中國英語的滲透率仍然不到1%。我們可以從下圖看出其中的差異。

儘管在馬來西亞和新加坡會有許多玩家能夠接受英文版本的遊戲,但是在其它東南亞國家可不一定如此。舉個例子來說吧,泰國是其中最大也是最有前途的市場,但是在提到英語水平時它卻遠不如其周邊國家。同時,比起使用原有的西方國家語言,面向泰國進行本土化更具挑戰性。老撾語,柬埔寨語和緬甸玉也是如此,它們都有各自的難度。

結論

手機遊戲已經大大推動了全球應用經濟的發展。在2014年12月,手機遊戲已經佔據了遊戲總收益的80%,並且iOS和Google Play上的下載量也達到了遊戲總下載量的40%。在中國,日本和韓國這些亞洲最大的應用市場中,手機遊戲已經站穩了腳跟。而現在我們相信東南亞也是一個值得開拓的市場,因爲:

在新興的東南亞市場中,遊戲已經是最大的手機應用類別。儘管今天在這裏手機遊戲收益還不是很多,但是它們正以一種驚人的速度快速發展着。

2014年在新興東南亞市場中手機遊戲經歷了超快速的發展。在iOS和Google Play的遊戲下載量增加了50%,有些國家的遊戲收益更是增長了100%。

擁有大量渴望娛樂體驗並隨時準備着購買下一款熱門遊戲的居民的區域仍然存在巨大的市場潛力,並且這也將爲遊戲分銷平臺提供巨大的機遇。

對於一些國際性發行商來說,比起像俄羅斯或中國等新興國家,東南亞市場更容易擠進去。

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Why now is the time to localize your mobile game for Southeast Asia

by Jacob Stempniewicz

Why Southeast Asia?

Southeast Asia is an area of approximately 4.5 million square kilometers, roughly half the size of the United States. Countries that make up the region are:

Maritime Southeast Asia: Indonesia, East Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, East Timor, and Brunei.

Mainland Southeast Asia (known as Indochina): Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam, and West Malaysia.

In the 20th century, the countries have seen mixed fortunes in terms of economy and political upheavals, but overall the story has been one of rapid growth. Over the past decade, the region has averaged a growth rate of more than five percent per year. If Southeast Asia were one country, it would be the world’s ninth-largest economy.

Until recently, the region was seen as playing catch-up with the developed world, but it’s now achieving a status of a significant market, including for mobile gaming. Southeast Asia’s economic growth prospects, huge population and fast-rising internet connectivity (especially mobile) all point towards solid growth in terms of game spending for many years to come. In addition, for a foreign company Southeast Asia is a region that could be easier to access than for instance China or Russia. Southeast Asia is interesting for one other reason. Many Japanese, Korean and Chinese game companies have had mixed success in trying to conquer the West and have since shifted their attention to Southeast Asia which is closer in terms of geography and (game) culture. At the same time, Western companies have spotted the potential and set up local offices and localized content. Southeast Asia is gearing up to be a key battleground for mobile games, especially since the local market has not been divided up between homegrown players yet.

Why mobile gaming?

According to Newzoo, the global mobile market reached $24.5Bn in 2014, following impressive growth rates of +33% and +57% for (smart)phones and tablets respectively. Growth is expected to continue in the coming years, with the mobile market generating more than $40Bn by 2017. Despite a widely reported slump in new tablet unit sales, game revenues on tablets are growing faster than smartphones, cementing their position as a key gaming device.

The high mobile growth rate is driven by both organic growth, lifting the overall market, and cannibalistic growth, at the expense of other segments. In addition to the initial casualties of mobile growth (handheld console and online casual and social gaming), Newzoo notes signs of slower growth in (online) PC games and MMOs as spending is diverted to mobile devices. Mobile is now expected to become the largest game segment by revenues in 2015. Mobile games continues to grow in terms of players and revenues across regions. An increase in the number of paying gamers and time spent gaming is fueling the Western markets while rising online connectivity, smartphone penetration and the availability of 3G and 4G connectivity drives rapid growth in emerging markets, such as Southeast Asia.

Mobile gaming in SEA

Mobile games dominate in Southeast Asia. In 2015, mobile revenues already account for nearly half the $1.4Bn Southeast Asian games market. By 2017, mobile revenues alone will approach $1.3Bn, growing at an impressive CAGR (2013-2017) of +56%. Underlying this growth is the fast-rising (mobile) internet connectivity across the region.

Six countries in Southeast Asia are responsible for the lion’s share of the region’s mobile gaming market. The “Big 6” are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The Big 6 countries account for nearly 90% of the population of Southeast Asia. Much of the region’s population is young, with the majority in, or about to enter, the working age demographic. This plays a key role in the region’s current and forecast competitive advantage in the world economy.

Revenues of the Southeast Asian games market are expected to double to $2.2Bn by 2017. Thailand will remain the largest market in terms of gaming revenues in Southeast Asia, closely followed by Indonesia and Malaysia. Singapore will continue to grow but will lose market share to faster growing countries. Vietnam and Thailand will grow in line with the overall market, maintaining their market share.

Gaming is one of the most popular uses for mobile devices in the region. A Google survey indicated that over 1/3 of smartphone owners in each of the Big 6 Southeast Asian markets played mobile games at least once in the last seven days. The popularity of mobile gaming in the region is reflected in the iOS App Store and Google Play, especially when compared to South Korea, one the world’s largest and most influential app markets. In December 2014, the download volume for games in Indonesia was approximately 90% of South Korea’s. Vietnam, with the smallest download volume in the region, amounted to half of South Korea’s.

While download numbers are high, app store revenues are still in the very early stages of growth, as shown in the second chart.

It is also worth noting that app store revenue is just a part of the overall mobile game opportunity in these countries. Publishers commonly use advertising and other indirect or subsidy-based monetization strategies to supplement the direct revenue that games generate from in-app purchases, paid downloads and in-app advertising. The split between IAP and advertising is growing ever wider toward advertising. Some publishers go as far as offering in-game currency in exchange for watching ads. Like South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand are traditional Asian online PC game markets since the 2000s where people are much more used to paying for online games. Also, according to a series of research conducted in early-mid 2014 by Euromonitor, annual disposable income and credit card penetration are higher in Malaysia and Thailand than in the other three markets. Both the willingness and ability to pay in Malaysia and Thailand might lead to better monetization of mobile games in these two countries.

SEA Mobile Gaming Skyrocketed

It is also interesting to see how quickly the Southeast Asian markets developed. Game downloads on iOS and Google Play combined across Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia grew 45% from 2013 to 2014. Vietnam claimed the highest growth rate, increasing 95% over this period. Indonesia was next with an increase of 85%. Philippines and Thailand saw moderate growth of about 25%, while download growth in Malaysia stabilized like mature markets such as South Korea and Japan.

Skyrocketing smartphone penetration was a major driver of this download growth. According to eMarketer, smartphone penetration in Indonesia grew from 13.8% to 21.3% between 2013 and 2014, and is expected to reach 26.3% in 2015, which translates to more than 60 million consumers. Similarly, the Global Connected Consumer Study 2014 claimed that 36% of Vietnam’s population currently own a smartphone, nearly double previous year’s figure. Historically, Indonesia and Vietnam have lagged behind Malaysia and Thailand on economic metrics, contributing to lower PC and internet penetration in those countries. Smartphones and mobile internet are more transformative in these types of markets because they are accessible even to low-income users who lack access to well-developed landline network infrastructures. Mobile gaming propelled app growth by providing an affordable and engaging form of entertainment which users can access anytime and anywhere. Interestingly, revenue experienced even more impressive growth. For these five Southeast Asian markets combined, the total mobile gaming revenue on iOS and Google Play nearly doubled from 2013 to 2014. Vietnam and Malaysia experienced the highest growth rates, at 150% and 115% respectively. Even Thailand, with the lowest growth rate among the five, saw its mobile gaming revenue grow by a staggering 75%.

Differences between countries

Over the past decade, differing economic conditions and telecommunication infrastructures played a key role in shaping personal computing device penetration and internet access in emerging Southeast Asian game markets. As a result, consumers developed different app- and phone-related behaviors and preferences. Less developed countries like Indonesia and Philippines have drawn less attention from app publishers. Fashion and trends in mobile gaming in these countries have been heavily influenced by Western markets, with inroads from China, Japan and South Korea. In Indonesia, globally popular games like Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga took 5 of the top 10 spots by revenue and 7 spots by downloads in December 2014. In Philippines, global leaders took an even higher share: 6 of the top 10 spots by revenue and the entire top 7 by downloads. However, unlike in Japan or South Korea, Supercell and King did not rely on massive TV and outdoor advertising campaigns to acquire users and climb up ranks. It seems that the growth in these five emerging Southeast Asian markets was more organic. In Indonesia and Philippines users were acquired more through advertising automation channels such as Facebook.

Blue: Global | Western Games | Yellow: Asia-Pacific Games | Purple: Local Southeast Asian Games | Green: LINE Games

Blue: Global | Western Games | Yellow: Asia-Pacific Games | Purple: Local Southeast Asian Games | Green: LINE Games

The story in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia is different from Indonesia and Philippines. Better economic conditions and infrastructure in these countries enabled higher penetration for PCs and internet access, which laid the foundation for PC online games. Over the past decade, game companies from China, Japan and South Korea entered these markets by establishing subsidiaries or licensing game products to local partners. In December 2014, Asian content-heavy role playing or strategy games like Summoners War, Dot Arena and Castle Clash took 5 of the top 10 spots by revenue in Malaysia, 4 in Thailand, and 6 in Vietnam. Indonesia and Thailand boast the largest percentage of payers – nearly 50% of players there spend money on mobile games. While Singapore has the lowest percentage of paying mobile gamers, in dollar terms they spend more than others per player.

Mobile Messaging Platforms and Gaming

Messaging apps are expanding their ability to serve as gateways to new audiences for games and online services in China, Japan and South Korea. This trend was already evident in Southeast Asia in the past year. Andovar’s client LINE is a market leader in the region. In Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, it took the #1 spot by revenue among apps outside of games in December 2014, and also ranked in the top 20 on the download charts. In Philippines and Vietnam, even though LINE didn’t rank in the top 10 by downloads, it still reached the top 10 by revenue. WeChat, which made significant progress in Malaysia, could be another major messaging app contender in the country. While there are other popular messaging apps in the region like Viber, Facebook Messenger and BBM, LINE was the only one that has successfully built a large game portfolio. However, in other SEA markets messaging platforms are still in the earlier stage of their product lifecycle. Once they hit a critical level of users to capitalize on network effects, they could roll out games and services to their massive user bases. Western messaging apps are also hoping to cash-in on this trend with popular apps such as Viber and Tango integrating games into their platforms. Tango, which received $215 million in investment from Alibaba in 2014, has over 250 million registered users and a huge selection of games, both in-house and externally made. According to the company, games on the Tango platform have 2-3x Life Time Value than that of the same games off platform. In February, Viber made its game service available to its 236 million monthly active users, following a successful two month pilot in five countries.

How does the region compare to others?

Witnessing the demand for mobile games, many PC and console game publishers from Asia swiftly pivoted to a mobile-first strategy. At the same time, the investor community continued to inject cash into the market and incubate companies vying for mobile dominance. Competition in the mobile game sector has never been fiercer in China, Japan and South Korea, motivating publishers to seek fresh opportunities. Southeast Asia could become that next frontier, and games are set to lead this growth just as it has elsewhere. Southeast Asia is growing faster than other emerging regions such as Latin America and Eastern Europe, as illustrated below.

While China is a very attractive market also characterized by high growth and a huge population, Southeast Asia may be easier to enter for Western mobile publishers. The reasons behind this are lower competition, less regulation and widespread use of established Western distribution channels such as Google Play and iTunes App Store. Half the top grossing games in Southeast Asia are Western titles. Western games are the most popular in the Philippines, where they make up 65% of the top games. Only 35% of the top games in Thailand are Western, the lowest percentage out of the Big 6. King and Supercell are by far the most dominant Western Publishers, with appearances in every Top 20 ranking.

Southeast Asia also shares many of the same preferences for social networks as the West. As high as 95% of those using mobile social networks or chat applications in Vietnam are actively on Facebook. The lowest percentage of Facebook users in the region is Indonesia, and that is still high at 78%. Twitter and Instagram are also popular, with Thailand’s Siam Paragon mall topping the global list of locations on Instagram in 2013.

Android or iOS?

In the five emerging Southeast Asian markets (Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia), Android holds a significant lead over iOS in device install base. The combination of lower purchasing power prevalent in the region and direct smartphone distribution favors the lower-priced Android devices. In 2014, Google Play generated more than 4 times the mobile game downloads as the iOS App Store in the five emerging Southeast Asian countries combined. The largest difference occurred in Indonesia, where Google Play was 9 times the size of iOS. The smallest difference was apparent in Vietnam, where Google Play was 3 times the size of iOS. iOS maintained its lead position in game monetization and was 1.3 times as large as Google Play in the abovementioned five markets combined in 2014. In Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines, the iOS App Store’s lead ranged from approximately 1.3 times to 2 times. Malaysia was the only country where Google Play’s revenue did not trail iOS App Store’s in 2014. In terms of year-over-year growth, Google Play grew faster than iOS in 2014 in both downloads and revenue. In the five Southeast Asian markets combined, Google Play downloads grew by 65% in 2014, substantially outpacing iOS. Meanwhile, Google Play revenues grew by approximately 220% and iOS by roughly 45%. Google Play’s growth started from a much lower base point compared to iOS in 2013, but it has exhibited impressive growth velocity in just one short year.

In February 2015, Google released Android One devices in Philippines and Indonesia, promising more were on the way. Android One is a set of smartphone standards designed for customers in developing countries primarily focused on people buying their first-ever smartphones. Android One smartphones run nearly stock Android with Google Mobile Services and can be built on reference hardware designs provided by Google. Google’s deeper involvement in software and hardware standards should reduce manufacturers’ R&D costs to help create more affordable phones, which is key to growing market share in emerging economies.

The languages of Southeast Asia

While all countries in the region are familiar with English as a language of international business and popular culture, actual fluency varies by country. In Singapore and the Philippines, English is an official second language. In Malaysia, English is an active second language, while other countries in Southeast Asia widely use English in business contexts. In China, on the other hand, English penetration is still less than 1%. The below EF EPI English proficiency index by English First shows the differences clearly.

While many players in Malaysia and Singapore will be satisfied with English language version of the game, the same cannot be said about remaining countries. For example, Thailand is one of the largest and most promising markets, but is far behind its neighbors in the region when it comes to English proficiency. At the same time, localization into Thai is much more challenging than into established Western languages, or even Chinese or Japanese due to a complex writing system. The same can be said about Lao, Cambodian and Burmese, which all pose their own difficulties. With offices in Singapore and Thailand and many years of experience with Southeast Asian languages, Andovar is able to advice on the best approach and ensure successful localization into the languages of the region.

Summary

Mobile gaming has driven the growth of the global app economy. In December 2014, games accounted for roughly 80% of all revenue and 40% of all downloads generated worldwide on iOS and Google Play. In China, Japan and South Korea, Asia’s largest app markets, mobile gaming already has a strong foothold. We believe Southeast Asia is especially interesting to enter now because:

Games is already the largest mobile app category in emerging Southeast Asia. Although mobile game revenues may not be large today, they are growing at a staggering rate.

Mobile games experienced surprising growth in 2014 in emerging Southeast Asia. Game downloads across both stores climbed nearly 50%, with some countries showing game revenue growth of over 100%.

There are still blue-ocean markets in the region with entertainment-hungry populations ready to consume the next hit game, and ripe opportunities for game distribution platforms.

Southeast Asian markets are easier to enter for international publishers than other emerging countries, like Russia or China.(source:gamasutra)