By Juan Franco, General Manager – APAC
We saw the gaming landscape shift considerably in APAC in the past few years. Exposure to digital gaming (and, in some cases, increased disposable income) during COVID-19 fuelled additional demand, as did the greater promotion of esports as a legitimate alternative to traditional sports for recreation. This has sparked the growth of digital gaming across all channels and in all regions within APAC, with new players extending beyond traditional age, gender, and socio-economic groups for gaming.
These trends, combined with the more general transition towards digital goods and services, will continue to impact the development of the gaming industry and in particular, how APAC players want to make payments in-game. We expect to see three payment trends come to the fore in the next 12 months.
Mobile-optimized payments to become even more dominant
Despite PC and console gaming remaining very relevant, one of the prevailing trends in the industry has been the explosion of mobile gaming. This is most true in APAC, the leading region globally for mobile gaming, where player growth has continued to grow steadily beyond the pandemic and is expected to continue to do so throughout the next 12 months. Other metrics, such as session lengths for mobile gaming, are significantly higher in APAC than the global average.
Gaming, particularly in-game payments, relies on easy, frictionless, or single-click payments to be successful. In the early days of non-optimized checkouts for mobile, players might have been prepared to key in their financial details manually. Still, as mobile gaming has expanded, a clunky experience has become unacceptable to players.
So expect to see APAC game developers focus even more keenly on offering payment methods to their players that enable seamless transactions in-game, such as e-wallets and mobile payments. These could be the predominant payment methods for gaming in APAC by the end of 2023.
Alternative payments continue to grow in relevance
We have already discussed the importance of alternative payment methods to gaming operators in Asia in previous articles. Local payment preferences are prevalent across Asia, especially with younger consumers, so gaming platforms targeting players from multiple countries or regions must offer a broad spectrum of payment methods in their checkouts.
And there is already a role for cryptocurrencies. APAC is one of the leading regions globally for crypto payment adoption, with some analysts suggesting six of the ten countries with the highest crypto adoption rates are in the region.
Alex Tay, CEO and Founder at ZeusX, a Singapore-based gaming marketplace, told us that payments is the number one critical factor in growing revenue in the gaming industry: “It is definitely very important to have a wide variety of payment methods in the gaming industry. We are boundless by geographical constraints due to the virtual nature of our goods and content, so our customers can buy anywhere in the world. Being able to reach them and offer local payment options is critical for growth.”
Tay added that currently, 2-3% of player payments are already being made using crypto. The next 12 months will see a steady rise in crypto payments as the gaming industry targets new players and revenue streams through checkout expansion.
Monetization of user-generated content
One of the trends we’ve seen develop in gaming over the past few years is an increase in user-generated content. The growth of platforms such as YouTube as Tik Tok has familiarised generations with the concept of becoming content creators for the entertainment of others, and this has been replicated in gaming. Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite Creative are some games that enable players to build their own experiences and share them with others. There is a wave of new gaming platforms on the horizon that will rely wholly on users for their content.
As this trend continues, we will see the creators increasingly focus on monetizing their content. This begins with definitive ownership of the content itself. The growth of Web3 will enable content creators to utilize the blockchain to do this and trade their content on an open market in the form of NFTs. Play-to-earn games will also financially reward players that contribute content to games.
For game developers that already rely on user-generated content or want to expand into this area, 2023 will be the year to discover how payment partners can make easy monetization of user-generated content a reality.