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Incredible Ways that Asian Game Designers have Impacted the Industry

VitaliyKolos Inspiration Sep 18, 2017

Gaming in Asia – A Gargantuan Industry

Anyone who minimizes the size of the gaming industry in Asia is in for big a surprise. The Asia-Pacific region is expected to fetch $51.2 billion in revenues in 2017 alone. The global video game market is dominated by gaming in Asia-Pacific, and the total revenues generated in the region are nearly double that of the US and Canada. Leading the charge in Asia are countries like South Korea, China and Japan. In 2016, South Korea’s total gaming revenue was estimated at $10 billion. Barely 2 years ago the value of the gaming industry in China topped out at $20.43 billion – representing phenomenal growth over just 7 years when the Chinese gaming industry was worth $17.71 billion.

Asian Tigers Roar in Global Gaming

According to the latest global games market report from Newzoo, some 2.2 billion video games around the world are expected to contribute $108.9 billion to gaming revenues this year. Year on year, this figure is up 7.8%, with 87% of GGR coming from mobile – the most valuable segment. Once again, Asia-Pacific is leading the way, and China is the front-runner at $27.5 billion.

By 2020, Newzoo anticipates global gaming revenue to increase towards $128.5 billion. It is thanks to Asian countries that the gaming industry is enjoying such phenomenal growth. An interesting statistic is that $46.1 billion will be generated this year with mobile games. That represents 42% of the global gaming market.

Why is Asia Such a Power Player in Global Gaming?

China, Japan and South Korea are the juggernauts of the global gaming industry. The leading providers of mobile gaming are NetEase and Tencent. Compared to the North American market, growth in Asia is on the ascendancy. Newzoo expects the Chinese games market to hit $33.7 billion by 2020 with a CAGR (2013 – 2020) of 13.6%.

In Japan, some interesting cultural nuances were posited by Anita Ching Yi Ngai in her thesis ‘Cultural Influences on Video Games: Players Preferences in Narrative and Gameplay’. Video console games got their start with the MIT lab’s Space War game in 1961.

By 1972, Pong was released and it was a universal hit. Nintendo was a leading game designer and manufacturer in Japan, and it sported many hit sensations like Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers and other games with 64-bit colour graphics. The Sony PlayStation was a major competitor to Nintendo, and was released by 1994.

Sony became the dominant market player in Japan, out-muscling Nintendo within 5 years. PS2 was so dominant that it crushed Sega, but Microsoft soon arrived on the scene with its Xbox to take on the Japanese manufacturers.

The Asian influence in gaming is evident in many of the action-packed titles that exist in the industry. Think of games like Mortal Kombat (NetherRealm Studios) or even StreetFighter (Capcom). Capcom is one of the biggest video game developers in the world, and it is a Japanese company. Various characters in these street fighting and martial arts games include Chun Li, Kitana, and E Honda (pictured above).

One of the most popular Asian influences in the gaming industry is Manga from Japan. Rich with a social milieu and history, Manga is an effective way of expression. This is an intractable part of Japanese culture and the artists are revered among the Japanese people. The drawing style of Manga is unique, certainly very different to Western-style comics, with intricately detailed artwork and slender characters.

This is highly appealing to Asian audiences. Fans of Manga are everywhere. And the artwork is loved by people of all ages. Tremendous resources are ploughed into Manga, and it features prominently in the gaming culture. Even in South Korea, there are webtoons and Manhwa, such as Tower of God and Kubera. These have also found their way into mainstream gaming culture owing to their popularity in Asia.

Online gaming portals prominently feature Asian-themed games across the board. This is true of skill-based games, and chance-based games alike. Many Asian symbols are evident in a wide variety of games such as gambling games. Top slots like 88 Fortunes, Dragon Scrolls, Fireworks Frenzy, Imperial Destiny, Koi Princess, Lion Dance, Panda Manga, Thai Flower, Toki Time, and others rely heavily on Manga, Chinese cultural influences, and a strong Asian appeal.

How Big Is Gaming in China?

In 2014, some 383 million people were gamers in China. This was a huge proportion of the 1.37 billion people at the time. Today, that number has grown astronomically and China is no longer second to the US in terms of its gaming population. The strongest growth component of Chinese gaming is mobile, as detailed above. Of the 20 biggest Global gaming companies (by revenues), 9 were from Japan and the US in 2012. However, the rapid rise of Chinese gaming giants, NetEase and Tencent has put paid to the US dominance of this industry. South Korea is a power broker in the gaming market, and many Chinese games initially featured strong South Korean influences. Today, China represents the lion’s share of global gaming, and that trend is not going to change anytime soon.

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