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Niko Partners 2022 Asia Video Game Industry Predictions – European Gaming Industry News

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1. MENA-3 games market revenue will surpass $2 billion in 2022

Niko Partners initiated coverage on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt for the first time in 2022. We call this region MENA-3 in our reports and expect combined games revenue across all platforms to surpass $2 billion this year. Growth will be driven by higher spending per user, additional government support across games and esports, and more gamers entering the market.

2. India will have over 400 million gamers in 2022 

We predict India will surpass 400 million gamers this year, accounting for over ¼ of total gamers in Asia. We also believe that India, the fastest growing market in Asia, will be the next market to reach $1 billion. Niko Partners has often talked about how the ITV markets, referring to Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, would be the next billion-dollar games markets. These three markets have surpassed $1 billion individually over the past two years.

3. Game approvals in China will restart in early 2022 

China’s video game regulator has not approved any new titles since July 22, 2021. There were only 755 titles approved in 2021, compared to 1,411 in 2020. With the roll out of the national anti-addiction and real name identification system now complete, we expect approvals to restart in early 2022.

4. China’s regulatory approach will shift from reform to enforcement

China’s video game regulator introduced new policies in 2021, primarily aimed at curbing gaming addiction among minors. We expect the regulator to shift away from policy reform in 2022, as it looks to ensure compliance with current regulations. We are already starting to see a crackdown on companies that are curbing regulations and we have upgraded the risk of a Steam International ban in China to high.

5. Game companies in China will increase focus on exports 

Chinese game companies have dominated their home market and found success overseas with mobile games. With increased investment in AAA game development, local indie studios and the ongoing regulatory risk at home, we expect Chinese game companies to start finding success on all platforms overseas in 2022 and beyond.

6. Esports will become more legitimate in 2022

In 2017 the International Olympic Committee recognized esports as a sport, in 2018 esports was a demonstration event at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia and in 2022 Esports will be a medal event at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. This will lead to more investment in esports player pipelines and player development. 2022 will enjoy an increase in esports training, education, subsidies aimed at esports management, player development.

7. Cross Platform and Cross Play will be a staple of new titles in 2022

The success of multi-platform titles such as Genshin Impact, the widespread adoption of scalable game engines such as Unreal Engine and Unity as well as the demand for interoperability between devices has led to players valuing cross platform experiences with cross play. We expect some of the largest game studios in China, South Korea, and Japan to introduce titles that run across PC, Console, Mobile and Cloud with cross play enabled.

8. 5G will be available across all 14 markets we cover in 2022 

5G has been rolling out across numerous markets in Asia since South Korea launched 5G services in April 2019. This has led to increased download speeds, lower latency and helped enable cloud gaming on the go. Malaysia, Vietnam, India and Egypt are the four markets we cover that have yet to roll out 5G. We expect them to start their roll out by the end of the year.

9. M&A / Investments / IPOs will continue to play an important role  

2021 was a record year for game related investments, especially in China where the number of transactions doubled compared to the prior year. Tencent alone invested in or acquired more than 100 game related companies last year. We expect M&A / Investments to continue playing a notable role in 2022 and beyond as the value of IP, development talent and new technologies become more important. While there may be a lower number of deals closed in 2022, we believe the overall value will continue to remain high.

10. Gaming companies will capitalize on the metaverse trend better than tech companies, but it’s still too early for the concept

Metaverse became a hot word in 2021 with numerous tech and gaming companies embracing the concept. Niko Partners believes that live service video games have been building towards the metaverse concept for several years and that companies with experience in both video game development and social media platform operation will have an advantage when entering this space. We expect game focused companies to see the initial benefits of the metaverse trend while tech first companies will struggle to offer value to users. However, we don’t expect to see a true metaverse experience in 2022 based on the currently accepted definitions.

11. The convergence of video games and the entertainment industry further engages gamers 

The video game industry is building on the concepts of metaverse, pan-entertainment and transmedia which is leading to a convergence between games and entertainment. We expect to see more traditional brands, entertainment properties and artists take advantage of live service games in 2022. On the flip side, we expect to see more collaboration between video game IP holders and traditional entertainment such as movies, TV, and comics. This bi-directional approach will further engage gamers in the future.

12. Blockchain game adoption increases, but the space remains experimental 

Blockchain based games made headlines in 2021 and VCs have invested billions in them. The past year has seen the rise of blockchain based non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in games and the exploration of the Play to Earn (P2E) model. We expect to see new innovative game projects in 2022 and increased adoption of blockchain games. However, the numerous barriers to entry, lack of regulation and questions around sustainability will keep the space experimental in 2022.

13. The local game development scene will grow in developing markets 

Of the 14 markets we cover, Japan, South Korea, and China are considered game development powerhouses due to the hit titles released by domestic developers. The success of Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis (publisher of Axie Infinity) and a 2x increase in local game development studios in India since 2019 shows there is growing talent in these emerging markets. We expect to see the release of a hit game ($100m+ revenue) released by a studio from Southeast Asia or India in 2022.

14. The conversation regarding app store take rates will extend into 2022

The Epic v Apple case made headlines in 2021 and it indirectly led to Apple and Google reducing take rates for developers that earn less than $1m per year. In South Korea, a new bill required Apple and Google to offer alternative in app payment options. In China, TapTap made headlines for offering a 0% take rate and numerous developers have invested in direct distribution to avoid app store fees. As pressure continues to build, we expect platform holders to make further concessions in 2022.

15. Increasing government support towards local game development across SEA

In 2021, governments became increasingly supportive of the video game sector. Vietnam’s government took an active role in the creation of Vietnam Online Game Developers and Publishers Alliance (which will be formally established in 2022), Indonesia’s government showed support towards local game developers through fundings and infrastructure support, and Malaysia’s government continue to allocate specific national budget for gaming and esports. We anticipate more of this in 2022.

16. Korea and Japan to continue deregulation of the gaming and esports industry

Following Korea’s abolishment of the 10-year-old Shutdown Law and looking at Japan’s increasing interest in esports, we expect that both countries will continue to ease regulations or even move towards deregulation of certain laws or ordinances that hamper the growth of the gaming and esports industry. While an overhaul of the regulatory environment might not be feasible, small changes will be possible to occur in 2022.

Check our 2021 predictions accuracy here. All our predictions came true, except for #7 as a freeze on game approvals in China led to a lower number of import games being approved in 2021 vs 2020.

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T1 to kick off VCT 2023 season training with NA boot camp

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The T1 VALORANT players are set to practice against North American teams prior to the start of the season next year, according to T1 player Ha “Sayaplayer” Jeong-woo

T1 will compete in the APAC international league in 2023 since the organization was selected to participate in its home region by Riot Games earlier this year. But T1 will face off against top North American teams now as practice since they are likely seen as better-quality opponents. 

T1 player Son “xeta” Seon-ho is in South Korea for personal reasons but he will likely join the team at a later date. He is practicing with the team from South Korea.

Some North American teams have started to practice, such as 100 Thieves, according to one player. A few partnered teams are still on a break, however. 

The season is still months away for partnered teams but Challengers teams will have to compete against each other in the next few weeks. Teams not directly invited to be a part of the Challengers circuit will have to qualify through the open brackets. 

The first event for partnered teams is set to begin next February. T1 are invited to the event alongside all 29 other partnered teams from across the world. All teams will face off against each other in a one-of-a-kind kick-off tournament, set to be held in São Paulo, Brazil

The kick-off tournament will run for three weeks until March 9. The first split for each of the international leagues will begin on March 26, with T1 set to face off against other APAC teams based out of Seoul, South Korea. 

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CS:GO caster Semmler makes transphobic comments while claiming to defend the women’s league he previously trashed

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Current CS:GO commentator and former Overwatch League talent Auguste “Semmler” Massonnat’s name has surfaced on the internet following anti-trans comments regarding ESL Impact season two, a CS:GO tournament for marginalized genders that was finalized yesterday.

“I’m afraid that you’ve been misled into believing that men can become women and vice versa,” Semmler said in a YouTube comment yesterday after the conclusion of ESL Impact season two. “Men should not be competing in a female league.”

It didn’t take long for Semmler’s comment to spark reactions in the CS:GO community—mainly backlash. But that didn’t prevent Semmler from expanding on his transphobic views on Twitter.

“Yes, I care about the integrity of the league for the female players,” Semmler said. “If the female players want to have a league to compete amongst themselves, they should get it. Allowing men to compete in that league defeats the purpose of the league.”

Aside from questioning Semmler’s anti-trans stance, the esports community also called out Semmler for being a hypocrite and for pretending to be on women’s side. After ESL unveiled the creation of the circuit, Semmler said in 2021 there would be no reason for women to compete with men if they could get a “guaranteed payday” in a “far less” competitive environment. Semmler also mocked the creation of the Impact circuit back then by asking when an “all-men” CS:GO tournament would be scheduled.

“He obviously has no clue what it’s like to be transgender human, and that’s exactly why he shouldn’t be making these comments,” a CS:GO fan wrote on the game’s subreddit. “Our nerdy gaming community should be at the forefront of diversity, inclusiveness, and acceptance.”

Semmler barely got to cast CS:GO games on official broadcasts this year. He stayed on the sidelines for the most part aside from casting at the BLAST Premier Fall Final over the past few days. His last gig as a commentator prior to that was at the PGL Stockholm Major in November 2021. Semmler has not apologized for any of his comments.

ESL Impact season two crowned the dominant year Nigma Galaxy had in the marginalized CS:GO circuit. ANa, Ksenia “vilga” Klyuenkova, Alexandra “twenty3” Timonina, Viktoria “tory” Kazieva, and Katarína “Kat” Vašková defeated FURIA in the grand finals just like they did at ESL Impact Valencia and ESL Impact season one earlier this year.



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Microsoft’s 10-year ‘CoD on PlayStation’ offer will reportedly get Activision deal approved

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Just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, the New York Times reported that Microsoft had offered a 10-year deal to Sony to keep the Call of Duty franchise on PlayStation. It seems, however, that this offer isn’t just a show of good faith but rather a potential requirement for Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard to be approved by international regulators.

This offer from Microsoft to Sony would be the main part of concessions that Microsoft will have to make to hold off objections to the purchase made by regulators in Europe and the U.K., according to a new report from Reuters. The other remedies that Microsoft would have to make to have the deal approved are currently unknown but will likely reduce the company’s ability to build a potential gaming monopoly, something opponents like Sony want to avoid.

The offering of concessions could reportedly shorten the regulatory process of the investigation by the European Commission and could also smooth out the processes with the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

“Sony, as the industry leader, says it is worried about Call of Duty, but we’ve said we are committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Reuters. “We want people to have more access to games, not less.” This matches with Microsoft and Xbox’s public declarations over the past few months to keep CoD on PlayStation, as well as broaden access to gaming.

Sony has publicly opposed the acquisition since it was announced and has led the process of appealing to regulators around the world.

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