The One Ingredient Southeast Asia Needs to Win the eSports Industry
It comes as no surprise that industry players are looking at the Southeast Asian market.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Competitive video gaming, also known as eSports, has gained significant recognition over the years, especially following the announcement this year that eSports will be an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games in China, according to reports.
According to game-market research firm, Newzoo, Southeast Asia is the world’s fastest-growing region in terms of eSports audience. The number of eSports enthusiasts in this region is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 36.1% between 2015 and 2019, reaching 19.8 million. In comparison, the global average CAGR is only 19.1% for the same period.
With the burgeoning gaming landscape, it comes as no surprise that industry players are looking at the Southeast Asian market.
Even the government and industry players of Singapore have been heavily invested in the gaming industry. Earlier this year, Singapore saw the launch of its first eSports academy by the Singapore Cybersports and Online Gaming Association (SCOGA), and supported by the National Youth. More recently, eSports in Singapore took another leap forward by introducing Chaos Theory, a full professional team that competes on a global level.
Soon, eSports will be a pillar of the economy as it presents huge opportunities not just to the gaming industry but also across multiple industries — technology, business, tourism, and leisure and entertainment. But for the region to support and accelerate the growth of eSports, it must have an interconnection between gamers, game companies, and the many different parties involved in the vast gaming ecosystem.
Interconnecting the gaming industry
From a user perspective, the eSports experience goes well beyond gameplay, with players expecting to effortlessly interact with social media platforms and forums or hold live discussions with teammates via the game.
As such, a prerequisite of a successful player-vs-player (PvP) game, be it professional or leisure, is fast, reliable and high-performing IT infrastructure, designed to connect players from all over the world instantly to many different parties and optimize the gaming experience. Sluggish network performance not only slows everything down but also severely dampens the mood of users, inevitably leading to dropouts from the game.
Gaming companies also need to support the various digital monetization models and currencies needed to attract players from all parts of the world. With in-game purchases acting as the main source of revenue for developers, supporting secure and direct payment transactions that are easy and intuitive for players to use is essential. This experience can be delivered by enabling direct interconnection between vertical ecosystems such as gaming providers and digital payment services.
Another key aspect in delivering a seamless and immersive gaming experience is to bring IT infrastructure in close proximity to game developers, distributors, and players. With large installation files and software patches needed to be installed regularly, it can be difficult and costly for developers to rely only on their self-maintained IT systems and capacities.
Finally, with so much data residing in modern gaming systems, secure and direct interconnections are essential to preventing unwarranted access to gamer profiles and facilitating in the safe synchronisation of vital information.
To deliver the rich gaming experience that the eSports boom is demanding, many are partnering with data center service providers to interconnect with game players, cloud and network service providers, and the like. NHN Entertainment, for example, leveraged an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA™) strategy, deployed on Platform Equinix, to create high-performance gaming IT infrastructures. Compared to direct one-to-one connections, this helped NHN Entertainment to optimize transit routes, improve the delivery of its services, and save significant costs by offloading 68% of gaming traffic.
To stay competitive, and grasp the tremendous opportunity presented by the industry, we need to build a mature interconnected digital media ecosystem that will enable all the companies involved in delivering a rich gaming experience to develop new products and services, and bring them to market more quickly.
Clement Goh is the Managing Director, South Asia at data solutions company Equinix