How the developing world has become a major area of growth for the video gaming industry. Projected growth of gaming in South East Asia, Latin America & Africa.
Video games are more popular than ever – in total, there were an estimated 2.8 billion gamers across the globe in 2020. When we think of gaming, consoles and PCs spring to mind, and of course, these formats are wildly popular, especially with cutting-edge graphics, gameplay, and online multiplayer tournaments available for just about every major title.
But gaming on smartphones and tablets has reached new levels in recent years, with many classic console titles making the successful migration to the format as well as countless games designed specifically for the platform. Gaming has rapidly spread through the developing world in recent years, with major interest in countries like Vietnam, Nigeria and the Philippines to name a few. But which countries produce the most gamers? Let’s take a closer look.
Developing countries haven’t been a traditional target market for video game companies. Many households in developing countries don’t have access to a computer, and consoles can be prohibitively expensive. But the rapid development of mobile technology, incorporating stunning graphics and purpose-designed gameplay means that mobile has become a respected and bona fide platform in the gaming community, opening the market for millions more players who may not have computers or consoles.
It is estimated that as many as six billion mobile phones are in circulation worldwide – the population of the world is roughly 7.6 billion – and as mobile technology gets ever more affordable, many in developing countries can now enjoy gaming in greater numbers.
According to reports, the number of gamers worldwide has grown by more than a billion over the last two years. Part of this can be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, but the biggest area of growth has been in the developing world.
For example, in 2020, Vietnam was the country with the highest number of gamers – 94% of adults said that they play video games, either on mobile devices or consoles/PCs at least semi-regularly. Again, the rise of casual gaming goes hand in hand with the accessibility of mobile devices. Elsewhere in Southeast Asia young demographics are driving the video gaming expansion, with gamers in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia making up a large proportion of new players.
South and Central America
Central and South America have also seen an explosion, with countries such as Colombia and Peru among the nations with the highest proportion of the population reporting an engagement with video games. As well as mobile platforms, console gaming is seeing a rise in popularity, especially in Brazil where the tax on consoles has been reduced as of 2020. Online multiplayer games are appealing to those across the continent as there are many Spanish and Portuguese-speaking gamers out there, making play more interactive and enjoyable. The countries where gaming is most popular are Mexico, Brazil and Chile – these make up most of the estimated 300 million gamers in the region.
There has been growth across Africa with countries like Nigeria seeing increases in gaming amongst younger demographics with access to mobile technology. But South Africa is the country on the continent where gaming seems to have especially caught fire. South Africa’s video gaming compared to the rest of Africa is unchallenged due to the large number of wealthy South Africans living in cities like Durban, Cape Town, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Johannesburg.
Console and PC gaming is big, driven by online multiplayer and eSports, but mobile gaming has also risen in popularity, with players being able to enjoy a variety of games on these devices. Of these, mobile casino games are among the most popular, with countless options. Casinos.co.za explains that “used to offer players a lot less choice when it comes to games and variety” but that this is no longer the case and that there are hundreds of games available both for Android, iOS, and Windows users. With an estimated 11 million gamers nationwide, South Africa makes up a significant proportion of global gaming.
Staying with Africa, there are many games that have become notably popular in recent years. League of Legends (LoL) is a fast-paced multiplayer online battle arena game where players assume the guise of a ‘champion’ to battle enemies. Multiple game modes make this a fun game that has captured the imagination of millions. GTA V is also very popular, the sandbox mission-based or multiplayer gameplay attracting many players into its varied, expansive and immersive world.
Africa is home to millions of football fans – the most popular sport on the continent – and FIFA provides the action and excitement of real football with many licensed teams and leagues to compete in, solo or multiplayer. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a first-person shooter that is exhilarating and fun to play in battle royale scenarios or many other modes such as cooperative missions or capture the flag style team multiplayer modes. In terms of mobile games, Among Us attracts many players who use teamwork to root out undercover saboteurs on a spacecraft – this game has taken the mobile market by storm in recent years.
The developing world has become a major area of growth for the video gaming industry. Technological developments are increasing just as mobile costs are falling, drawing millions of people into playing games who may not have been interested in years gone by.