It is demonstrable that the gaming culture has drawn the world into a new pattern of relationship towards its industry. Not so long ago, gaming was thought to be an activity reserved for detached individuals and geeks. However, nowadays, the industry has hit the mainstream, already surpassing TV and TV streaming services. While few have predicted this outburst, others are now seeking to follow in and capitalize on its fruits. As the West already has a well-established market with acclaimed names, developers and investors are turning their eyes to the other part of the globe. In South-East Asia, Thailand emerges as the rising star of the gaming industry, being favored by many for its potential.
Last year has seen the world spend over a hundred billion dollars on video games. It is becoming apparent that this culture will be the source of entertainment for future generations, as gaming is turning into a spectators sport. Thailand’s government has not overlooked gaming as an industry and is supporting its growth.
However, in order for an industry to succeed, it needs to have an infrastructure. Players, teams, rules, tournaments, audiences, and arenas are just a handful of necessities required for success. That may be the reason why the Thai government promotes video gaming competitions alongside traditional sports. Since 2017, tournaments are held regularly in schools and universities. The country is also home to over 20 million gamers, putting it high up the ladder in Asia. Furthermore, 2019 will see the SEA games host e-sports in addition to its traditional contests.
How did the gaming industry in Thailand begin to arise?
Video games are the first thing to come to mind when talking about the gaming industry. However, mobile gaming shouldn’t be left out, as it holds credits for introducing the culture to wider audiences. The mobile industry has not only changed when we are playing video games but who is playing them as well.
Several sources suggest that users in Thailand spend around 5 hours daily on their mobile phones. Additionally, online purchasing occurs mostly over mobile, placing Thailand 9th on the Google Play Store in terms of app downloads. The mobile gaming industry in Thailand is expected to grow around 7% annually, reaching the estimated price of over $200 million dollars in 2021.
Companies like Sony Corp started producing premium smartphones in Thailand, with an estimated yearly production of 600,000 to 700,000 mobile devices.
Thailand has set up a Digital Economy Promotion Agency to further promote industrial upheaval. It is difficult to predict the outcome this will have on other economic sectors, but the Thai government is determined to turn the country into a technological miracle over the next 20 years.
All of the above has attracted numerous investors into Thailand, with most of them settling in Bangkok. Recognizing the Thai game development talent, technological and internet companies in the country are reforming the education sector with the support of the government.
What is the worth of the Gaming Industry in Thailand?
The Thai gaming industry is estimated to be worth around $1 billion and has a growth rate of 15-30% per year. Although various sources suggest different forecasts, a market value of $2 billion is expected to hit around 2025.
With the introduction of new companies, the market became more competitive, therefore reducing the price of numerous products. The tools for making games have also been affected by this, making them available to the wider public.
Local game developers are more in favor than those from the West. The gaming industry originating from Thailand and other parts of Asia remains more popular among the countries gamers. Young game developers from Thailand are aware of the advantages this brings them, and are looking to profit from the opportunity. One of the difficulties Western companies face is the language localization and wast cultural differences.
Thai gaming industry today
Having over 50 million users in the country, last year, Facebook has introduced a monetization model to game developers on the platform. Facebook’s monetization model will additionally help Thai game streamers reach broader audiences, consequently affecting the growth of their fanbase. However, the investment also indicates a struggle for dominance in the market. Thai youth are getting involved in popular video-streaming networks like YouTube and Twitch, which are beginning to push Facebook aside.
Wealthy investors are making sure the industry keeps attracting talented athletes. Professional gamers salary can reach up to $2000 per month, which is considered to be very good by Thai standards. Despite the good wages, e-sports athletes are required to possess great mental discipline, as they spend up to 12 hours of daily practice. With a large base of players, numerous teams are being prepared to enter the International e-sports scene.
Regardless of the benefits, the gaming industry has its downfalls. There has been a growing concern over gaming addiction in Thailand. While the industry is being widely accepted, some use it as a justification for their obsession. When the time comes for them to seek help, institutions are left helpless since gaming addiction is still largely unexplained. The gaming industry in Thailand has also been accused, as it puts profit ahead of the well being of its consumers.
The Sports Authority of Thailand is looking to solve this problem by bringing in regulations and rules to the game. Athletes associated with the Federation are healthy, strong-willed individuals, who are set upon as role-models to the younger community. However, the harsh circumstances required for one to join the Federation, leave many to roam without proper guidance.
Thailand also possesses a gaming arena in Bangkok, that can host dozens of tournaments and competitions every month. Having an arena also helps promote the sport, as an increased number of young Thai pursue a professional career in the field.
What are the future predictions for the Thai gaming industry?
Apart from being the fastest growing gaming industry, Thailand is anticipating masses who will follow up with the frenzy. It is projected that by 2021, Thailand will have a base of 300 million spectators of gaming sports. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that companies like Facebook look to secure their position in the market. Aside from the favorable demographics, Thailand will be looking to establish itself as the leader of South-East Asia’s emerging sport-gaming industry.
Receiving massive backing from numerous sources, the market is witnessing a boom in the production of gaming machines and mobile devices. Some of the oldest universities in Thailand have also shown their support for the digital industry, signing a mutual agreement to nourish the future of gaming.
Virtual and augmented reality games have also hit the market in Thailand. However, many game developers are still avoiding VR optimization, as it posses a very limited consumer base.
Newly created possibilities will bring up to the development of the gaming culture in Thailand, thus strengthening the industry and opportunities for a professional career in e-sports. Still, as with every sport, regulations, and rules are something the industry will need to introduce. In the future, gaming federation might be required to put a ban on the competition of underaged players.
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