Social restrictions spur gaming popularity

October 15, 2021 | 09:00
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Vietnam’s gaming industry has been gaining further traction, with both PC and mobile games rising in prevalence.
Social restrictions spur gaming popularity
Social restrictions spur gaming popularity, illustration photo

The pandemic has reignited Vietnam’s already growing online gaming industry, especially among young professionals. As a result, the gaming industry has seen a year of success, hitting revenues of almost $530 million in 2020, double those of 2015, according to the Vietnam National Innovation Centre under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

According to Sensor Tower, a provider of market intelligence and analytics for the mobile app economy, the global mobile gaming sector’s on-year revenue growth increased from 15 to nearly 40 per cent in May, and while the rate has decreased a bit since that peak, it remains to hover between 25 and 35 per cent.

Linda Huynh, head of strategy and operations at Video game publisher Amanotes said that the pandemic has bolstered the digital economy across the world. Mobile gaming in particular has seen an unprecedented surge in revenues and downloads.

“As such, there has been a great opportunity for established and new players in the mobile gaming industry to seize part of that market, including Vietnamese game studios and publishers,” Huynh stated.

There has been a rise of Vietnamese indie game studios in the global charts. Companies like Amanotes, who target global markets, have managed to reap the full benefits of the market growth. This has encouraged other talented Vietnamese game studios to follow this strategy, with multiple games made in Vietnam making their way into the US top charts.

“We are excited and confident that this trend will continue,” Huynh said. “Realising this opportunity, Amanotes is aggressively strengthening its partnerships with local and regional studios and music partners. Recently, we successfully sealed a strategic investment with our partner to establish a game studio.”

Another key trend in Vietnam is the fast development of a play-to-earn ecosystems centred around cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens, following the success of the game Axie Infinity. The game’s creator and its players have generated $2.05 billion in sales to date for Axie Infinity, according to measurement firm DappRadar. While the area is still at its early stages, there has been a big potential and passion from the game and tech community in Vietnam.

Dino Strkljevic, client lead for Asia-Pacific and Japan at Intel Corporation, said that mobile gaming is gaining popularity across the world, and Southeast Asia is ahead of the curve. This can be attributed to factors such as portability, high smartphone penetration, free-to-play apps, and high-speed internet access. Vietnam has a smartphone penetration of more than 50 per cent and widespread, affordable 4G wireless connections. “Intel also has a role to play when it comes to cloud gaming infrastructure and cloud processing that many mobile games rely on. From an ecosystem perspective, we are enabling gaming from all angles and providing the best hardware available as well as software optimisations to power gaming, streaming, and megatasking across a multitude of devices,” said Strkljevic.

Beside smartphones, PC gaming continues to hold a definitive place in local culture. A recent survey by Vero and Decision Lab shows that 44.9 per cent of esports players in Vietnam play on PC, edging out mobile as the most popular platform.

According to the 2021 Mobile Application Report by Appota - the developer of creative platforms for the digital entertainment industry, people in Vietnam have been spending more time engaging with esports content during social distancing. The average gamer now spends nearly three hours a day playing games and over two hours watching livestreams or esports tournaments.

Trang Vu, CEO of Gamota, a mobile game publisher, said that the two most popular game genres today are esports and role-playing games.

“Simply put, if there is one factor that has the biggest impact on the gaming industry now, it’s the focus on drawing people closer to each other in the virtual world,” Vu said.

Because of the high user demand, game developers and other stakeholders have quickly taken new moves to take advantage of the opportunities. The most obvious signal is that the number of games released is increasing steadily. “This rise reflects the efforts of many domestic enterprises to continuously adapt to the day-to-day changes of the market,” Vu said.

As claimed by Strkljevic, in conjunction with the rapid growth of the gaming industry, Vietnam is also witnessing a significant increase in content creators and dedicated gaming communities that are playing a critical role in transforming gaming from a subculture to a mainstream cultural force. To support the local gaming scene, Intel hosted the Intel Gamer Days in Vietnam from August 27 to September 30, where it collaborated with brands such as Dell, Gigabyte, Kingston, Lenovo, and the Republic of Gamers to offer deals on hardware, peripherals, and games.

By Thanh Van

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