In the Philippines, Esports is a fast rising industry that is gaining more traction by the day – with several companies investing in developing amateur and professional teams that could represent their brand in these popular competitions. However, there is seemingly a monopoly in the games typically involved in these competitions, with most of them being categorized under the MOBA genre.
The Rise of the MOBA Scene and Esports in the Philippines
MOBA or multiplayer online battle arena games are extremely popular in the Philippines to the point where it has almost become a staple for any Filipino teenager thriving within the gaming industry. With an estimated 43 million active gamers in the country as of 2021 and a 12.9% yearly increase of gamers since 2017, Philippines is steadily becoming a dominant country in online gaming – involving both PC-based and mobile users alike in this wave of esports fever.
While certain countries such as China and the US were able to keep up with this demand to supply some of the big hits in the recent decade, Japan seemingly struggles in matching the Filipino demographic – particularly in pushing an application that could check some of the big titles such as DOTA 2, League of Legends, and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.
With the giants of the gaming industry such as Nintendo, Square Enix, Bandai Namco, and Konami being stationed in Japan, it is a great mystery as to why the country is struggling to keep up with this gaming industry trend in a country where gaming has almost become integrated with its culture.
What does Japan lack that hinders its ability to permeate the Philippine online gaming market?
Japanese Video Game Trends
According to a 2022 survey of Frontline Gaming Japan, the top 100 best-selling games in the country are currently composed of mostly Nintendo Switch applications – primarily involving titles associated with anime shows and other popular hits that have originated from Japan. Evidently, there is an observed bias among the country’s citizens to consume entertainment programs that originated from the country – and this may have been reflected in the country’s ability to produce games that cater to the demand of other areas.
In another survey conducted in 2020 by FreakOut, the most popular smartphone games in Japan are still primarily composed of indie Japanese applications, with some mid-level titles such as Fate/Grand Order and Pokemon GO securing a spot in the list.
Revenue-wise, Japan is staying caught up in its race with other leading countries, particularly as the consumption of their productions is high within its country of origin and from the fact that Japan does consistently produce big titles that tend to become global hits. However, Japan’s dominance tends to weaken when it comes to games that are aimed at competing with other hit titles in local regions like the Philippines – Onmyoji Arena, a MOBA game developed by Japan, comes to mind.
Current Permeation of Japanese Video Games in the Philippines
Most often than not, Japanese video games are of high quality, particularly those produced by some of the big names in the industry, i.e., Bandai Namco and Nintendo. However, due to the issue of platform accessibility, particularly when it comes to more expensive consoles such as a Nintendo Switch, PS4/PS5, and Xbox, these programs tend to struggle to permeate the gaming industry within the Philippines.
In most cases, mobile games can return higher revenues within the country, particularly those with multi-platform accessibility, i.e., Genshin Impact, League of Legends, Roblox, and Minecraft. On the one hand, Japanese games need to catch up in this aspect due to the high specifications required to run these pricey, albeit unquestionably high-quality, entertainment programs.
Top Video Games in the Philippines
According to a 2021 survey conducted by YugaTech on the most popular online games available within the Philippines, the top applications consumed by Filipinos are the following:
- Genshin Impact
- Ragnarok M: Eternal Love
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is likewise one of the most consumed applications in the country, primarily due to its easy access and low spec demand for its necessary device.
As evidenced by this list, it is apparent that multi-platform support is a big hit among Filipinos, and competitive gaming is one of the critical components to developing a popular title within the country.
The Video Game Trend in the Philippines
As discussed previously, it has become apparent that the online gaming trend within the Philippines is primarily spearheaded by the MOBA genre, along with its compatibility with multiple and preferably more affordable and accessible platforms, i.e., smartphones. In addition, these top-selling games are likewise riding the boost provided by the several esports competitions that are held using these games – making it even more evident that to permeate the gaming market of the country, specific benchmarks need to be met, and this can be summarized by the outline below:
- Preferably a competitive game, i.e., MOBA-style applications, FPS games, or an Open-World MMORPG;
- It needs to be accessible to the general public and must have multi-platform support, with a particular focus on smartphone access; and,
- It must be viable for an e-sport competition, or its roadmap must allow for tournament-style formats in the future.
Why are MOBA Games So Attractive?
Going back to the core aspect of the Filipino gaming industry, MOBA games have boomed instantly due to their qualities being likewise in line with some aspects of human nature – particularly those that are not easily stimulated in one’s daily interactions.
To begin, the format of MOBA games is essentially an expedited progression system, which means that the satisfaction from leveling up a character to its full potential is crunched into a 30-40 minute timeframe that the player can repeatedly do again and again during every match. In essence, MOBA games provide the satisfaction of virtually improving and likewise provide a variation in how you can do so by altering matchmaking sequences after every game.
In more colloquial terms, it provides players with a “satisfaction” button that they can press repeatedly and experience different variations of this “satisfaction” with every press.
Low Skill Ceiling
With life being as challenging as it is, investing time to become more adept at a game is no longer as practical in today’s society. In the Philippines, where worker hours are dire and exhausting, there is no time for anyone to grind and master the moves in a particular game. MOBA games, with their fair matchmaking system that matches new players with other new players, and experienced ones with their respective peers, significantly lowers the necessary skill ceiling required to play the game – allowing users to truly enjoy their experience.
As a country rooted deeply in familial ties and bonds, cheering for other players has almost become a habit for Filipinos. MOBA games, with their intense tournament-style format, are the perfect medium through which citizens can bond together in support of a particular team or player and compete without actually competing in the game.
Opportunities for Japanese Video Game Companies
With these facts that have been laid out, it is apparent that Japanese gaming companies have a lot to catch up on. However, the industry needs a quick reset and a reprioritization of its product design – catering more towards understanding what a country needs rather than merely doing what they do best.
Admittedly, Japan is a powerhouse in its ability to produce top-notch games year after year. And with the right focus and direction, who knows what advancements Japan has in store for the Philippines in the near future? If you are interested in the opportunities Philippines offers to expand Japan’s gaming market, reach out to us to learn more about what we can do for you.
BRIA. (2022). The Rising Popularity of eSports in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.bria.com.ph/articles/the-rising-popularity-of-esports-in-the-philippines/
FreakOut. (2022). The Latest Trends of Japan’s Game Market – 3rd Largest In The World. Retrieved from https://www.yugatech.com/feature/10-most-popular-online-games-in-the-philippines/
Frontline Gaming Japan. (2023). The top 100 best selling games in Japan, 2022. Retrieved from https://www.frontlinejp.net/2023/02/02/top-100-best-selling-games-in-japan-2022/
YugaTech. (2020). 10 Most Popular Online Games in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.yugatech.com/feature/10-most-popular-online-games-in-the-philippines/
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