CloudMoolah | Breaking into the Mobile Games Market in Southeast Asia
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Breaking into the Mobile Games Market in Southeast Asia

The gaming industry in Southeast Asia is growing beyond Latin America and Eastern Europe and there is no better time to enter this market than now. However, what may work in the West, may not necessarily work for Asia. In this article, we’ll share with you what you should be looking out for when planning your marketing strategy to target Southeast Asia.


1. Localise your game payment options & payment channels
Payment is a known challenge in Southeast Asia. A Frost & Sullivan 2013 report shows a low credit card penetration of less than 10% in most of the markets across Southeast Asia (excluding Singapore and Malaysia). With low credit card penetration and prepaid distribution for Apple and Google gift cards not readily available in most markets in the region, gamers end up turning to alternative methods of payment, such as stored value cards, which they can top-up via internet banking, ATMs, or through services provided by their telcos and convenience stores in their country.


Using the wrong payment methods in your game will undoubtedly cause you to lose access to such gamers. Conversely, making it easy for these users to pay for your game gives you direct access to this huge pool of gamers.

One way of localising your game payment options and payment channels would be to integrate CloudMoolah payment platform into your game. CloudMoolah is Unity’s Integrated Payment Partner and with a simple integration via the Unity Editor 5.5, it is now possible to access the untapped potential markets in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Integrate CloudMoolah at no cost here.


2. Work with local or region partners to help increase exposure of your games to local / region gamers.
Finding and working with the right local partners will certainly help you obtain the local market knowledge and support you need. This could be a 360⁰ marketing strategy to promote your games. Such local partners will also be able to support you by offering you a local customer contact point, as well as helping you to manage all relevant tax issues in the region they represent.


3. Localisation is a key success factor.
Naturally, if you want to get gamers from Southeast Asia on board, some localisation is essential. English First (EF) ranks Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines as the top three countries proficient in English in Asia.

With the Indonesia and Thailand being the largest games markets in Southeast Asia, localisation of languages is necessary. According to Newzoo, less than 10 percent of the Vietnam market speak or read English. Therefore, localisation should be a priority if you are intending to focus on the Vietnam market. Also, localisation extends beyond translating the linguistical components of your game, and should include non-linguistical components such as graphics and gameplay.

From experience, a game developer would take 3 to 6 months entering each of the Southeast Asia markets, starting from contacting local payment merchants, going through legal contracts and agreements, to learning the local culture and market, and testing the payment solution in your game. CloudMoolah, backed with our alliance of partners across the region will allow us to provide you with the support you require in bringing your game further, be it localisation, payment matters, or even marketing and advertising. Find out more about our services here.


4. Apply purchasing power parity pricing, especially for Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam market.
Definition: Purchasing power parity (PPP) is an economic theory that states residents of one country should be able to buy the goods and services at the same price as inhabitants of any other nation over time.

PPP is used in many situations. One way it is used, is to adjust the price differences applied to the markets in SEA. It is essential to apply PPP to these three markets in Southeast Asia as the cost of living is generally lower in these regions. If a game developer were to naively price his game based on currency conversion, he is likely to outprice a gamer with less spending power. An example often used to illustrate PPP other than the Big Mag Index would be the iPad index (elaborated by CommSec Economic Insight 2013: CommSec iPad Index). The iPad index compares an item’s price in various locations. Each iPad is produced in the same place (except for the model sold in Brazil) and all iPads (within the same model) have identical performance characteristics. Price differences are therefore a function of transportation costs, taxes, and to a lesser extent, the prices that may be realised in individual markets. We listed down the cost of iPads in some of the regions below for comparison.


Our partner, Money Online illustrates this with their 1 month Spotify premium subscription pricing:

In Singapore: SGD 11.40 = USD 8.30

In Malaysia : RM 17.38 = USD 4.18

In Philippines: PHP 142.00 = USD 2.94


5. If your game focuses on real money monetisation, focus on Thailand & Vietnam first.

2015 Newzoo Data Explorer reports that almost 50% of mobile gamers in Thailand and Vietnam spend money on mobile games. These two markets have the largest percentage of spenders in Southeast Asia.


6. If your game is focused on ad revenue, Indonesia has a large population of gamers.
If your game is focused on ad revenue, Indonesia has a large population of gamers.

With a population of 252.8 million in 2014, Indonesia is the most populous country in Southeast Asia and fourth in the world. The Association of Internet Service Providers in Indonesia (APJII) announced that Internet penetration in Indonesia has now reached 40 percent of the population, or 100 million Internet users. Other notable insights on Indonesia include findings from that around one-third of the Indonesian population are active social media users (platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Line, Whatsapp and Path). Indonesians not only use these social media platforms for communication but also as e-commerce platforms for small and mid-sized enterprises. eMarketer added that the number of smartphone users in Indonesia is expected to rise from 55 million in 2015 to 92 million in 2019 on the back of Indonesia’s economic growth, the availability of affordable 4G smartphones on the Indonesian market and further development of Indonesia’s 4G network. Currently Indonesia is already the third-largest smartphone market in the Asia-Pacific region (after China and India).

However, it is imperative to note that not all games may be good drivers of ad revenue. This is dependent on the nature of the game and the kind of ads placed in your game. How do you monetise without affecting a game experience? Monetisation on Role-playing (RPG) or casino games through ads should be done carefully so as not to affect their user experience. It is also worthwhile to note that rewarded video ads are well becoming the new monetisation norm. A new Unity report called, “In-Game Advertising the Right Way: Monetize, Engage, Retain” indicates that 71% of the gamers/players surveyed in their study cited that watching in-app video ads as their preferred way to pay for a mobile game, trumping in-app purchases and premium pricing. 52% of the developers surveyed in the research also claimed to be confident that video provides their games with the highest generating ad revenue.

We will share more on ad monetisation in blogposts to come.


7. Build your own mobile games portal as primary destination of your mobile gamers.
Create a portal that will house all your games, including just the one you’re currently working on. The portal should be updated frequently. This will allow your followers to get to know and try out your other games. Create an attractive landing page which introduces your games, complete with captivating screenshots and relevant links. Be sure to hold their attention, such as through a detailed media page where you can include images or videos. Some sites that are popular includes Envato Market, WordPress and even WIX.


8. Build and own your mobile games community
It is ideal to create a space for gamers who are fans of your games to talk about the game they love so much, and connect to other gamers to gather latest updates on your games, earn tips and strategies.

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