Let’s Play! 2022

The Southeast Asian esports market

Between August and September 2022, Deloitte surveyed 25,000 respondents in 22 markets across Asia, Europe, North America, and the Middle East to explore consumer behaviours and trends impacting a rapidly evolving global esports ecosystem. In this series of market reports, we present our findings for three Southeast Asian markets – Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore – covered in the global study.

Blurred lines between esports and video gaming

By now, virtually all Southeast Asian consumers have heard of esports. Across the three regional markets – Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore – covered in Deloitte’s 2022 global esports survey, more than 94% of consumers have some awareness of the term. But when it comes to an awareness of the term’s definition, the figure drops dramatically to less than half (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Term and definition awareness across three regional markets

This is perhaps not a surprise: the lines between esports and video gaming are often blurred, as both have a product and service focus on electronic games and value chains that are deeply intertwined with each other. For our purposes, however, there are several meaningful differences between the two.

While video gaming refers to the active consumption of any video game regardless of the platform or means, esports refer exclusively to computer, mobile, or console video games that are played at a competitive level – that is, where teams or individuals face off against one another in leagues or competitive tournaments. Esports are also further characterised by a spectator component, with these games attracting audiences on the Internet, TV, and on-site event locations.

Common attributes of the Southeast Asian esports viewer

Given the abovementioned definition, video gaming is typically perceived to be a channel for the general public, while esports are seen as a channel for a narrower, more specific audience. In the context of Southeast Asia, our research has found that this subset of esports viewers tend to display several common attributes that differentiate them from the general public.

For one, there is an obvious skew towards the younger demographics. According to the survey findings, more than three-quarters of esports viewers in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore are Millennial and Generation Z consumers (see Figure 2). In addition, esports viewers possess relatively higher income levels and backgrounds in STEM and/or business, and are more likely to rate themselves as knowledgeable in finance and tech topics.

Figure 2: Demographic breakdown of esports viewers across three regional markets

Relative to their global peers, Southeast Asian esports viewers also have much higher weekly consumption hours – with more than a quarter of them consuming more than 1 hour of esports per day. This bodes well for industry players in region, particularly since Southeast Asian esports viewers also tend to be heavy users of subscription services and display a penchant for attending live events.

Considerations for commercial conversion

While Southeast Asian esports viewers share several common attributes, it must be emphasised that there is no ‘one’ esports consumer. Esports viewers have highly heterogeneous motivations for watching esports, and there is a large overlap between active and passive users, as consumers often combine their video gaming and esports viewing behaviours.

To unlock the full potential of their target group, industry players must therefore build diversity into their strategies. This could include, for example, segmenting user groups into regular, heavy, and hardcore esports viewers, and analysing the different ways that they select and consume content. Given that Southeast Asia’s esports landscape is currently dominated by only two genres – namely, Battle Royale and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) – there may also be a need for industry players to diversify esports activities to both maximise reach within their existing target group, and convert broader segments of the general public into regular viewers and gamers.

Other critical considerations for industry players also include profitability structures and monetisation models. Specifically, apart from increasing the conversion of non-paying users into paying customers, there is the question as to how industry players can entice their consumers to shift away from one-off expenditures – such as spending on events, merchandise, and paywalled content – that currently account for the majority of esports-related expenditure (see Figure 3), and move towards more recurring models, such as subscriptions and membership programs.

Figure 3: Monthly esports related expenditure across three regional markets

In the longer term, industry players who are keen to unlock additional revenue streams in the form of cross-industry offerings will also need to think about how they better entrench esports into society and culture. In particular, they should consider morphing their esports brands into lifestyle brands – taking into consideration local and regional nuances across Southeast Asia – to ultimately convince gamers and viewers alike that esports are much more of a lifestyle choice, rather than a mere entertainment option.

For more insights, please download the individual market reports to view highlights of our survey findings for Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

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