Thailand has potential to score big in gaming

With over 28 million Thais playing online and video games, the Kingdom has strong potential in the $46 billion global gaming market because of its talented developers, widespread mobile penetration and annual growth of 15 percent in the local market, media executives said last week as Bangkok hosted the Thailand Game Show Big Festival 2017.

“Thailand is the fastest-growing video game market in Southeast Asia, thanks to its strong social media penetration, availability of affordable devices and variety of game titles,” said Torboon Puangmaha, managing director of True Media Solutions Co., a co-host of the Festival that took place at the upscale Siam Paragon shopping center.

The three-day event drew over 120,000 people, most of them pre-teen gaming fans, and was co-sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Siam Paragon. It was the biggest gaming industry event in the Kingdom to date. Major game makers such as Nintendo, Tencent and Sony exhibited their latest creations, along with many local and independent game design and development companies.

While the country has 28 million gamers, about 1.2 million of them are considered “hard core.” Gaming research company NewZoo reported that Thailand’s gaming market is set for strong growth and is expected to earn over $2 billion a year by 2025, almost four times the $597 million it is forecast to earn in 2017. Average yearly growth is expected to be 15 percent, according to NewZoo.

Pongsuk Hiranprueck, managing director of Show No Limit Co, which served as the organizer of Thailand Game Show, another exhibition, during the past 10 years, said video games are becoming a sport just like those featured in the Olympics. In fact, e-games will be featured as a competition at next year’s Asian Games in Indonesia for the first time.

The market for advertising through video games is also growing. The Bangkok Post reported last week that video game makers, who have been reluctant to introduce advertising into games, are experiencing a change of mindset. They have become more positive about “optional rewarded ads,” which are less intrusive and can allow smaller companies to gain more revenue.

In Thailand, the total revenue generated by the top 10 grossing iOS and Google Play games grew 85 percent year-on-year, according to the Bangkok Post. In-app advertisements have grown much faster than advertising on mobile browsers. In Thailand, in-app ads have expanded at a pace 13 times faster than mobile web ads, and the share of rewarded ads in the advertisement market has steadily increased, Rohit Sharma of India-based mobile advertising company POKKT told the paper.