South­east Asia plays catch-up in on­line speeds for e-sports 5

China Daily (USA) - - ANALYSIS - HAKY MOON in Hong Kong For China Daily

E-sports tour­na­ments are be­com­ing the next big thing across South­east Asia but the growth of the in­dus­try still de­pends on the de­vel­op­ment of in­fra­struc­ture through­out the re­gion.

Viet­nam is a case in point. A rapidly de­vel­op­ing coun­try, it has rel­a­tively good in­fra­struc­ture and in­ter­net pen­e­tra­tion. E-sports is quickly gain­ing trac­tion there thanks to a rel­a­tively large and young pop­u­la­tion and on­go­ing im­prove­ments in net­work in­fra­struc­ture.

E-sports, such as mul­ti­player on­line bat­tle arena games, are com­pe­ti­tions staged on elec­tronic sys­tem plat­forms and me­di­ated via hu­man-com­puter in­ter­faces.

Tour­na­ments to­day, with prize money and even pro­fes­sional play­ers, can pro­vide live broad­casts and have the po­ten­tial to at­tract vast num­bers of spec­ta­tors.

“Viet­nam has a hun­dred mil­lion peo­ple and it also has the high­est MAU (monthly ac­tive users) for League of Le­gends,” says Derek Che­ung, founder and CEO of Hong Kong Es­ports, a com­pany that owns a pro­fes­sional team of League of Le­gends play­ers.

“(Viet­nam has) around 5 mil­lion MAU. That’s a lot more com­pared to all the users in Tai­wan, Hong Kong and Ma­cao — to­gether these only have 2 mil­lion MAU.

“(Viet­nam) has a large pop­u­la­tion of young peo­ple. Ba­si­cally ev­ery guy stays at home and plays com­puter games,” says Che­ung.

Hong Kong Es­ports’ Chief Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer Paul Chan also speaks of the coun­try’s huge po­ten­tial and its “whole dif­fer­ent cul­ture be­cause of the lan­guage and the in­ter­net speed”.

Un­for­tu­nately, other South­east Asian coun­tries do not have the same level of net­work in­fra­struc­ture as Viet­nam.

Alex Lim, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the In­ter­na­tional e-Sports Fed­er­a­tion, notes the dif­fer­ences in gam­ing cul­tures across South­east Asia.

“Gen­er­ally, Dota 2 and Coun­terStrike, these first-per­son shooting games are the lead­ing games at the mo­ment. South­east Asia has a very en­thu­si­as­tic cul­ture to­ward e-sports, but the in­fra­struc­ture in the re­gion doesn’t re­ally sup­port such trends.”

In fact, net­work in­fra­struc­ture is cru­cial when it comes to the lo­cal­iza­tion of new games.

“For in­stance, when League of Le­gends peo­ple in Viet­nam are ac­tive monthly users for League­ofLe­gends was ad­mit­ted to South Korea, with one of the best in­fra­struc­tures for net­works, the game quickly be­came trendy. On the other hand, it wasn’t as easy for South­east Asia to ap­ply these new gam­ing trends,” says Lim.

League of Le­gends is a mul­ti­player on­line bat­tle arena game re­leased by Los An­ge­les-based Riot Games in 2009.

In Tai­wan, Hong Kong and Ma­cao, it is the dom­i­nant game with 90 per­cent of the gam­ing pop­u­la­tion play­ing it. In places with weaker net­works, play­ers con­tinue with older games.

“There is more loy­alty to­ward games like Dota 2 or Counter-Strike. That’s why they stick to old games — they don’t have a lot of va­ri­ety like South Korea or China,” said Lim.

He says that in the Philip­pines, for ex­am­ple, peo­ple play games at home but not ev­ery­one has the in­ter­net.

“The gam­ing trends in these coun­tries don't change that fast. This also means that in South­east Asia they have longer loy­alty to­ward one game.”

Dota 2, an acro­nym for De­fense of the An­cients, is a free-to-play mul­ti­player on­line bat­tle arena game de­vel­oped and pub­lished by Valve Cor­po­ra­tion, based in Wash­ing­ton. The game was re­leased three years ago.

Counter-Strike is a first-per­son war game that has be­come widely pop­u­lar. It was code­vel­oped by Valve and re­leased in 1999. The lat­est ver­sion, Counter-Strike: Global Of­fen­sive (CS: GO), was re­leased in 2012.

What has be­come an an­ti­quated game for most play­ers in South Korea and China is still pop­u­lar across South­east Asia.

“It’s a lot harder to get ac­cess and en­joy the game in South­east Asia,” says Lim, adding how­ever that in­ter­net speeds and net­work con­nec­tiv­ity did not nec­es­sar­ily “fully im­pact the trend”.

The re­al­ity of dif­fer­ent net­work ac­cess and speeds cre­ates dif­fer­ent dy­nam­ics through­out South­east Asia, with off­line users flock­ing to the e-sports tour­na­ment are­nas — whereas in mar­kets such as South Korea, there are plenty of live on­line chan­nels to view games.

“Many peo­ple come to off­line events, a lot more than in South Korea. It’s also be­cause they don’t have other op­tions, so when we have e-sports events in South­east Asia, we see a lot of peo­ple com­ing to the event,” says Lim.

AFP

An e-sports com­pe­ti­tion in Kaoh­si­ung, Tai­wan.

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