Asian online gaming: know your market and get teams on the ground

Asia cannot be regarded as a whole: for developers, aggregators and operators, the focus needs to be on focusing as closely as possible on the target market, learning everything and getting teams in place on the ground, but even so success is not guaranteed. An expert panel encompassing the trifecta of online gaming provides candid insight into what to do and what not to do, with a special candid Q&A.

Here are some of the key parts:

03:35 – Localization plays a key component in game development. The idea with online table games is to feel the brick-and-mortar, feeling of having a live dealer. Slots is about creating the ideal experience. The tricky part is to understand whether the game will perform or not. Game development takes between one and three months.

05:30 – From provider point of view, it’s not a one-size-fits-all. Have to make sure the game can even load in the country, need fast loading speed get a CDN, players are extremely impatient nowadays. If any loading of more than 10 seconds, your game will never have any gameplay.

Think about separating your RGS server location by region – one for Europe, one for Africa, one for Asia. Also about languages, currency – don’t go for generic Google Translate, get an in-country translator.

Players are more savvy, need thematic games that relate to their culture.

09:26 – On localization for providers, once you’ve picked the target country – need a customer service team, account management team, sales team – that speaks the language. Need to have a point of presence in the market.

As a provider, small start-up, it’s a massive investment at the initial stage, but if you don’t put in the investment you might never see the returns.

11:45 – There are two biases – of the player and of the provider. There are sub-demographics within each country also, for example fishing game players in China. Operators see if games are performing, if not they’re not going to be placed.

From provider standpoint, teams need guidance from on-the-ground partners.

14:30 – For example dragons, need to differentiate between a Chinese dragon, a Korean dragon and a Japanese dragon. Even if you do that though, there’s no guarantee of success for the game.

18:45 –  Online translation services are hit or miss. If you stinge on that part, you’re 90 percent guaranteed to fail.

20:00 – Local team, local presence, lot of slang used in different markets. 10 seconds loading time is too much, maybe 5 seconds. Many big game developers don’t listen to the operators.

22:00 – Big companies (developers) are often less incentivized to innovate.

23:09 – Typically marketing consultants are not experts in the gaming industry. Working style between large companies and smaller companies is highly different. Small teams help communication. Need to establish lines of communication within the company.

25:00 – Need to have a middle management team that really makes the magic. Account managers are key. The team that doesn’t understand the player perspective or doesn’t understand the game won’t perform well.

26:35 – Customer service is extremely vital. Passing feedback up the chain takes a really long time. But things are changing. Trying to have direct contact improves things much more quickly.

28:30 – Some top 10 games might not work for VIP players, but some games that work for VIPs may be more niche and never make the Top 10.

30:30 – For providers that are a bit more arrogant, unresponsive, aggregators will shift more to one that is easier to work with. Good aggregators not only find the good games, but also the good service requirements.

32:20 – Some providers are shifting to mobile only, but desktop players are still important in some key markets. You can create games that are adaptive to each device, more difficult to develop, but won’t alienate players. Players often play from different devices – making the interface as close as possible to the same helps avoid pitfalls.

36:30 – Asia is a totally different market, forget what you do to get things done in Europe/America, you need to get a local person in Asia to understand the lay of the land. Market is extremely saturated.

 37:50 – Asian trends sometimes follow European ones, but they’re trends only, when you look deeper it’s completely different. Asia is not that different from Europe, different countries in Asia are different from Europe. Even different provinces might have different ways of doing things in different countries. It’s how localized you want to get.

39:15 – Indians don’t play slot games, Japan and Korea are mature slot markets. Bias goes both ways, Europe is also not just one unified market.

Audience questions

How has internet marketing contributed to the success of Asia online gaming for the past few years?

40:45 – As providers don’t go as much to B2C promotions, arrange through the operators. Only digital ad is generally to attract business and retain business. Affiliates are the primary benefiters of digital advertisements.

41:38 – Most of the digital marketing is actually done by the operator. For example Pragmatic Play used influencers (Youtube, Twitch), viral marketing videos for a groundswell. Providers still can do viral local marketing.

44:19 – From a B2C side internet marketing has helped the most. There are lots of grey areas. Lots of methods of doing PPC on Google, Facebook etc, but videos will be taken down – so might lose capital but can sometimes get ROI.

Governments are also slowly catching on to techniques – the use of influencers, celebrities etc – so it’s a cat and mouse game.

45:40 – Europe is also regulating heavily now on indirect marketing techniques. If Asia follows the same path, digital advertising could slowly die out, like it’s dying out in Europe. Problem is that it highly decreases the grey area. If smart regulation is done, that would be good, if it’s too harsh, it can be detrimental.

If you don’t have traffic, what do you do? Many operators in Asia don’t like affiliates.

49:09 – Affiliate needs to be addressed by the operator. With the grey nature of online gaming in Asia, affiliates are very localized with different methods and different channels in each country.

49:45 – There are no big entities affiliate-wise in Asia, because it’s still a bit taboo. Many authorities view it as negative.

What about adult websites? A lot of traffic from online gaming is being generated from adult websites.

53:00 – As an operator, there are multiple projects and each project has its own adult channel, its own adult traffic. A lot of players are derived from that. Done behind doors, but it’s a very lucrative marketing channel if done right.

Have to be smart if you want to tap into the adult market for the Asian traffic.

53:56 – In Asia, stigma of gambling is actually more than stigma of porn websites.

54:30 – From the provider or aggregator side, see an increase in demand for a sexy live dealer, leveraging the sex-sells approach still works. Has really sold in the last three years.