The pandemic has changed the e-sports landscape in Asia, where mobile e-sports were already starting to challenge the dominance of PC and console-based gaming competitions.

A study by Google and Niko Partners highlights the scale of mobile gaming in the region: 850 million mobile gamers across China and Southeast Asia in 2019 generating $28bn in gaming revenue.

The traditional advantages of PC and console games – faster connections and sharper graphics – are no longer as vital given the existence of better smartphone hardware (including dedicated gaming phones with enhanced features) and the rollout of 5G networks, while cloud gaming allows mobile gamers to play high-spec titles without having to invest in associated hardware.

There’s also a robust internet cafe (icafe) infrastructure, where gamers have been able to use up-to-date tech and fast connection speeds. These venues, as well as retail stores and shopping malls, have been used to host mobile e-sports events in key markets and attract sponsorship.

The pandemic has necessarily limited such events, but livestreaming platforms have seen a boost as gamers gather online instead. In China, viewership of mobile e-sports titles grew between 75% and 100% year on year when quarantine was implemented, according to the study.

Gamers also report spending between 50% and 75% more time playing games compared to before the pandemic.

But while 60% of gamers in China and Southeast Asia say they’re strongly drawn to e-sports, only 10% have actually participated in a mobile e-sports competition – and there could be a opportunity here for brands to sponsor or host tournament platforms for popular games.

Marketers should also consider that Asia’s mobile e-sports genres are more diverse than PC and console ones, ranging from casual games like Pokemon GO to ‘hardcore’ titles like Honor of Kings and giving them a greater number of options to work with.

One reason is the growing number of female gamers in Asia, “In the past, there was limited female viewership across e-sports,” according to Jenny Hall, director of sales and brand partnerships at Ampverse.  “One of the core factors behind this was most likely due to the fact that traditional e-sports titles were played on PC and console, which didn’t have the same broad appeal, along with the lack of female role models,” she told The Drum.

“While the majority of female gamers are casual players, they can be highly engaged and challenged,” added Yasser Ismail, associate vice president, strategy for APAC at Essence. “In-app marketing, especially ‘watch as you play’ ad units, can be a great way to increase awareness of a brand to a female audience,” he said. 

Sourced from Google. Niko Partners