Esports and gaming are huge across SEA with almost 250m participants and 82% of people playing either on mobile, console or desktop. We caught up with Mitch Esguerra, Southeast Asia Operations CEO, Galaxy Racer to get his take on the year ahead in esports and gaming. Here are the 6 trends to follow:
- Gaming and esports industry becoming increasingly sponsorship-driven
The esports and gaming industry is expanding rapidly and becoming more recognised as a source of entertainment for billions of viewers, gamers and fans around the world. We’re slowly seeing the line blurring between esports and more mature traditional sports like football and basketball where organizations like the English Premier League and NBA draw large sponsorship deals from globally recognised brands. As an increasing number of brands are looking to associate themselves with teams and organizations in esports through a range of sponsorship deals, it will help to reinforce the credibility of esports as a product that is able to bring value to brands through viewership, endorsements and activations, thereby allowing them to reach their target audience directly.
Furthermore, gaming is one of YouTube’s fastest growing content categories with a large number of content creators producing gaming content for their fans. As such, it is the logical step for many organizations to include content into their business model. We will see more organizations signing up content creators who stream their gaming content on various platforms such as Twitch and YouTube. At Galaxy Racer, we currently have over 100 content creators across the globe on our roster, with over 70 content creators and counting across Southeast Asia including Filipino actress Sachzna Laparan, Malaysian actress and director Yana Samsudin to name a few.
On that note, it is undeniable that content creators have changed the game for the industry. They are a key factor to the growth of the gaming industry, with their ability to create hype and excitement within the gaming community, and engage with their fans on the latest gaming titles. The gaming space has been reinvented with content creators being a part of an organizations’ marketing strategies.
Galaxy Racer’s content creators have a total social media reach of over 500 million, with 2.5 billion monthly views. With the greater reach that content creators could potentially have, we expect sponsorships in this industry to become more common. In 2021, sponsorships made up the bulk of the global esports market revenue. This shows the growth potential of sponsorships for 2022, and the incentives it brings for platforms to drive their visitor numbers, while games can take this approach to promote new titles.
- Esports Tourism
As most economies in SEA open up their borders for tourists, we can expect more esports tournaments to be organized for audiences to attend physically. Offline tournaments are an integral party of our industry. It is where competitive teams connect with their fans and audiences who share the same interest, in addition to providing brands and sponsors the opportunity to conduct unique activations to elevate fan experiences and interaction.
For countries to boost their tourism economy, esports is a viable option for them to bring in visitors. Termed as esports tourism where people from all over the world gather in a country as an audience for international offline tournaments. Similar to the concept of the Olympics where the world’s best athletes congregate to compete against one another, we’ll see more countries and cities vie for the opportunity to host these international tournaments. This presents a good opportunity for the relevant tourism boards to collaborate with esports organizations to promote complementary tourism activities to these offline tournaments for international fans.
Galaxy Racer is one of the leading esports and content organizations that hosts international esports offline tournaments around the world through our own tournament IP. GAMERS GALAXY, our very own esports tournament IP, was just introduced this year. We have recently hosted the GAMERS GALAXY: Dota 2 Invitational Series Dubai 2022, the very first top tier international offline tournament which was hosted recently in Dubai, where we invited the top Dota 2 teams from around the world to pit their skills against one another. The tournament was live streamed to a global audience and we garnered over 2 million concurrent livestream views across Asia with 38.5M total hours watched, highlighting the demand for competitive gaming content. We will be looking to bring GAMERS GALAXY and other proprietary events to Southeast Asia in the coming months and hopefully with less COVID-19 restrictions, we will be able to host large-scale international offline tournaments for both teams and fans to travel and experience the atmosphere of an onground esports tournament once again.
- Gaming and esports expanding to diverse verticals
Although only founded in 2019, Galaxy Racer is the world’s largest esports and content organization. We are the only organization to operate across the entire esports ecosystem. In this sense, what we have recognised and acknowledged is the fact that the esports ecosystem will diversify into several pillars, moving away from the traditional model of just games, esports teams and tournaments.
Aside from competitive teams, content creators, and events, we are also continuously improving other verticals that are complementary to each other such as consumer goods, music and lifestyle.
- The development of a more mobile-first interface for games
Publishers and game developers will increasingly look to develop more mobile first games due to market and consumer trends in 2022. Newzoo reported that the 2021 global games market will generate $175.8 billion via consumer spending.
It was reported by Newzoo that more than 90% of gamers in 2021 play via mobile, standing at a figure of 2.8 billion of the world’s 3.0 billion gamers, due to Asia-Pacific’s appetite for mobile games, as well as the segment’s accessibility in all markets. This is compared to 1.4 billion on PC and 0.9 billion on console. Furthermore, the market size of gamers is on track to grow to 3.32 billion at a CAGR of 5.6% by 2024. However, more consumers than ever before play across multiple gaming platforms (mobile, console, PC), resulting in crossplay which is in part driven by the ongoing trend of platform agnosticism.
We don’t see crossplay affecting the mobile-first gaming sector that much as there will always be that element between mobile and PC players of shared gaming properties. Mobile players will not abandon their platform the moment they have funds and accessibility to a PC while PC players will enjoy having a portable version of their favorite game in the palm of their hand. Technological advances in phones are going to keep improving and mobile developers will constantly innovate where the experience in gameplay for players will be greatly similar.
- The potential of mobile-first esports tournaments
With the growing number of mobile-first games, mobile-first esports tournaments might not necessarily come as a surprise for those engaged in the gaming and esports industry. The core of our industry is to transform our ways of working and how we engage with fans and audiences.
We have launched a women-focused esports initiative in North America called HER Galaxy where we are looking to build a multi-platform women-only tournament series which also includes esports titles across mobile, PC and console platforms. Under HER Galaxy, we aim to empower women in the esports ecosystem by offering a safe platform for teams to grow through a series of tournaments and events, and an avenue for women in esports to excel in what they do best.
Additionally, our recent GAMERS GALAXY: Dota 2 Invitational Series tournament held in Dubai was a huge success and we intend to bring this tournament IP to various esports titles across different platforms including mobile, and once again invite the best teams and the community to pit their skills in a head-to-head competition in Southeast Asia.
Due to the huge growth in mobile gaming, we believe that there will be more upcoming mobile-first tournaments from various organizations in 2022 and the appeal for mobile-first games is exponential.
- Self-expression drives the gaming industry through the metaverse
Aside from mobile-first games, metaverse games are widely talked about in recent months. What’s interesting about the metaverse is that it can draw players into a virtual reality where they feel a deeper connection with the game. As such, we can brace ourselves for more non-endemic brands to tap on the gaming industry immersed in the metaverse as part of their wider marketing strategy. Gamers might soon be able to experiment with brand products in virtual reality, simulating real-life activities and experiences, which might convince them to buy or promote these products. As the gaming industry transforms rapidly, we will continue to see endless possibilities and opportunities for partnerships and collaborations with both endemic and non-endemic brands.