The Web3 gaming boom, commonly known as ‘GameFi’ for its Play-and-Earn (P&E) capabilities that reward players with cryptocurrency and NFTs, has taken over the crypto industry. As of summer 2022, blockchain games accounted for over half of global blockchain usage. The blockchain gaming market now has a market value of US$4.6 billion and is projected to grow to US$65.7 billion by 2027, with an amazing compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 70.3%.
While blockchain games are gaining in popularity all around the world, they have taken off like wildfire in Southeast Asia (SEA), according to Chainalysis. The Philippines and Vietnam lead the region in terms of GameFi adoption, with a reported 25% and 23% of the respective populations engaging in P&E games. Other countries in the region are also joining in, primarily due to economic drivers — the median minimum wage in SEA is just US$300 per month, and P&E games offer a means of earning supplemental income with little effort. Add in a global pandemic and you’ve got yourself a perfect market for GameFi.
Vietnam-based Sky Mavis famously kicked off the SEA GameFi boom with the launch of the NFT game Axie Infinity in 2018. Axie Infinity grew in popularity during the crypto bull market of 2021 and broke US$4 billion in NFT sales in February 2022 — an industry record. The company is now expanding its game offering by building a metaverse platform for third-party and community-generated content.
But the SEA GameFi scene is much more than just Axie, of course. Other companies are building Web3 gaming platforms too, with a serious focus on expanding the industry’s user base throughout SEA and capturing the growing multi-billion dollar market opportunity.
Singapore-based Digital Entertainment Asset (DEA) is one such organization. They operate the PlayMining GameFi platform and NFT marketplace, with five current NFT games and more on the way for 2023. In addition to a healthy playerbase in SEA, PlayMining has a strong presence in Japan, too. DEA has collaborative partnerships signed with both Rakuten and TV Tokyo, and their DEAPcoin ($DEP) token has the distinction of being Japan’s first Financial Service Agency–approved P&E token. DEA recently secured a US$10 million investment from LA-based LDA Capital to further fund its international expansion.
“We’re releasing multiple new game titles for PlayMining every single year, rapidly building our platform to satisfy our 2.6 million users,” DEA co-founder and co-CEO Kozo Yamada said in a recent press release. “Our goal is to bring more and more third-party studios on board and build out a game library that rivals Nintendo.”
DEA recently partnered with YGG SEA to onboard the entire PlayMining GameFi catalog to the yggsea.io game portal, further expanding the reach of PlayMining games in SEA. The two companies are also collaborating on marketing and charity work in the SEA region.
A subsidiary of Yield Guild Games (YGG), the world’s largest decentralized P&E gaming guild, YGG SEA operates the yggsea.io gaming portal which is home to 18 Web3 games. Focused specifically on fostering the GameFi ecosystem in SEA, YGG SEA engages in grassroots promotional and scholarship activities across the region.
According to YGG SEA co-founder Irene Umar, the company works hard to be “the friendly face who welcomes everyone into the Web3 gaming universe”. Besides helping first-time players enter the metaverse, YGG SEA also reaches out to many marginal communities to “spread the word about the equal opportunities that GameFi has to offer”.
Also based in Singapore are Infinity Force and Ethlas. Infinity Force is a platform for gamers looking to build guilds and P&E games in the metaverse, with a GameFi arcade portal launching soon. Ethlas is a popular free-to-play P&E portal with 22 different games and regular tournaments. Infinity Force raised US$5.5 million in January 2022 to scale their platform, while Ethlas recently raised US$6 million to increase its war chest to nearly $10 million.
Thailand-based game portal GuildFi contains 25 popular games from other developers, including Axie Infinity and ApeIron. The company is focused on creating a Web3 ecosystem that integrates games, guilds, and NFTs. They raised US$6 million in November 2021 to improve interoperability.
The runaway hit game Splinterlands has joined Axie Infinity as one of the most popular games in the Philippines and claimed the distinction last year of being the most widely played NFT game by user count. Splinterlands is one of 11 NFT games on the Hive.io GameFi platform that, while not being SEA-specific, also features a well-rounded ecosystem with many different kinds of applications for DeFi, social media, etc.
There are undoubtedly many more Web3 games popular in SEA not mentioned, along with new game platforms being made. The GameFi boom in SEA has resulted in the region leading the world in crypto adoption, which shows no sign of slowing down despite bear market conditions. And with the number of gamers in Asia expected to exceed 1 billion by 2026, chances are very high that Web3 gaming will go mainstream very soon, in a very big way.