Southeast Asian Countries Showing Record-Growth in Esports Participation

A key takeaway in the latest 2020 Global Esports Market Report is the emergence of Southeast Asian countries as frontrunners in the growth of esports markets.

With the year 2020 still has another quarter to go, Newzoo the research organization behind the market study, estimates that global esports earnings will surge to $1.1 billion at then end of the year. The forecast includes an estimate that around $822.4 million of the projected revenues, will come from corporate sponsorships and media rights.

Corollary Increase in Number of Global Esports Audience as Growth Indicators

The global esports revenue projection ties with growth forecasts in the potential growth of total esports audience worldwide; estimated to reach a count of 495.0 million viewers in 2020. The audience growth estimation represents an equivalent YoY increase of over 11.7% when compared to the size of global esports reported in 2019.

Continuing Increase in Number of Global Esports Players as a Key Growth Factor

The latest global esports market report also indicated that as of the third quarter of this year, there are about 2.7 billion esports players participating on a worldwide scale.

Of those global number of players, 54% or an estimated total of 1,454 million esports players are from the Asia-Pacific region. That being a significant trend in the growth of esports players, we took interest on how some Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand is responding to the phenomenal growth of the esports market in their respective countries.

How Southeast Asian Countries are Responding to the Growth of Esports in the Region

In Singapore and Malaysia, where the esports gaming industry is already recognized as a legitimate form of sport, several organizations have already put up esports academies that will see to the development of avid players. The goal is to produce formidable professional esport athletes who will potentially sustain the continuing growth of the industry.

In Thailand, local support is mostly evident in the form of locally held esports tournaments and competitions. Thailand’s esports market is on track to meet expectations of reaching the projected 27 billion baht for this year. However, Thailand’s growth ratios are relatively smaller when compared to the achievements made by other Asean countries.

According to Santi Lohtong, of the Thailand Esports Federation, the slow growth of the esports industry in Thailand is mainly due to negative perceptions about video gaming among Thai people. Many still hold the view that young gamers turn into game addicts.

Global Growth of Esports Audience in Relation to Increased participation in Esports Betting

Inasmuch as the growth of the esports audience can be attributed to betting activities, we also looked into a separate report on global esports betting published by Market Research in September 2020.
The report shows a corresponding increase in esports betting, largely boosted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this particular aspect, the growth trend is slower in Southeast Asia when compared to other regions, to which the United States. Canada, Mexico and several EU countries are the frontrunners.

The obvious reason is that gambling in general is forbidden in many Asian countries. While Southeast Asian countries support the esports industry as a significant contributor to the growth of economies, the same level of support is not extended to proponents of esports gambling.

Moreover, many Asian gamblers prefer to place their gambling money on sports betting and online slot gaming. Although gambling is illegal, Asia-facing online casinos provide their customers with secured and private network as a way to shield them from the prying eyes of law enforcers.

In Thailand, a new kind of slotxo or online slot gaming includes a cashback promotion as a way of helping slotxo customers optimise their betting money. The JKTH website for one, returns 10% of the betting money deposited daily up to a maximum of 1,000 baht. Such offers therefore make it more lucrative for Asian gamblers to place bets on online casinos over outcomes of esports betting.