Adrian Peter Tse
Aug 26, 2015

Mobile gaming in Asia holds big opportunities for creative marketers

HONG KONG – Mobile penetration and a cultural shift in the perception of gaming has helped Asia become a leading market in mobile games. Now marketers and advertisers just need to catch up.

Age of Three Kingdoms, a popular mobile game in Hong Kong
Age of Three Kingdoms, a popular mobile game in Hong Kong

According to industry reports, mobile gaming revenue in Asia reached US$13.6Bn in 2014, representing 55 per cent of the world’s total market. Supported by fast growth in Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific as a whole is expected to remain the biggest market in mobile gaming for years to come.

In Hong Kong, the gaming scene is also gaining traction. On the App Annie Index, Hong Kong is ranked number eight in the world in terms of Google Play revenue in 2014. Other Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were ranked first, third and fifth respectively.

“The numbers show that players are very active,” Arthur Chow, CEO of Hong Kong-based gaming company 6waves, told Campaign Asia. “People are willing to try all sorts of genres, from casual games developed in the West, to hardcore games developed in China through to Japanese-style games.”


6waves at ACG in Hong Kong


Chow said that mobile penetration has transformed the local industry, and “casual games”, which 6waves exclusively develops, has taken off in the past few years. The rise of mobile has contributed to a cultural shift in games and is showing greater appeal to a wider audience.

For example, in the past, gaming in Hong Kong was male-dominated between the ages 15 to 35. “Most recently in our booth at ACG [Animation, Comics and Games] we were promoting our hit game Age of Three Kingdoms,” said Chow. “We saw a father and his 10-year-old son gaming. Increasingly, gaming is becoming a family event as well.”

While mobile games are breaking down some of the stigmas around games in Hong Kong culture, which deems gaming a “waste of time” and a vice, due to addiction – “freemium mobile games” in particular are attracting an even wider demographic. These include female gamers that enjoy playing cute and casual games.


6waves on stage at Google Play's Game Week in Hong Kong


“We’re also seeing a lot of mature-aged people playing games on their phones or tablets,” said Chow. “These cover casual games, or even mahjong games. So mobile gaming is touching all generations.”

However, with all the potential, advertising and marketing in games is still in its infancy. Opportunities to make advertising in games more “relevant and natural” are still an area that brands have yet to tap into.

“I think the mobile gaming industry is still at its early stage and there are no fixed rules on how third-party advertising can work,” said Chow. “One key principle is that it has to create and ensure a good user experience. We have seen video ads that are relevant to the users work well before and interstitials with good designs can be effective too.

“We once published a farming game and got an orange juice company to sponsor growing their brand of oranges and the users liked it,” said Chow. “User could associate themselves with the brand though this product placements.”

6waves' advice on 'gamification' and creating games for marketing and advertising:

  • The design and the mechanics are very important. Advertisers need to ask what the objective of the campaign is and how a gamified-design can help achieve that. They should not create a game just for having a game’s sake.
  • Consumers are now very spoilt in the sense that they are all used to good quality games that are free. Production quality of the games must be good or else the image of the brand may be tarnished.
  • Sometimes it may be better for advertisers to work with a game company and build a co-marketing effort instead of the advertiser trying to create a game on its own. The results can be mutually beneficial with the sharing of expertise, resources and audiences and fan bases. 


Hong Kong's YouTube gamers talk advertising:


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