Singapore aims to capitalize on the billion-dollar esports sector, banking on its infrastructure investments, status as a global business hub and gaming ecosystem to become Southeast Asia’s leading destination for the fast-growing sport.
Esports has emerged from a niche market into a mainstream phenomenon, turbo-charged by rising mobile penetration and digital entertainment demand during the pandemic. Southeast Asia is expected to lead the world in esports revenue with compound annual growth of 20,8% through 2024, nearly double the global rate, according to a report from Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Newzoo BV.
In May Singapore hosted the Free Fire World Series, which garnered a peak viewership of 5,4 million, the highest-ever for any esports match outside of Chinese platforms, according to Esports Charts. In July the nation opened its first esports experiential center, equipped with world-class live-streaming and pro-esports facilities.
That’s attracting investments and growing numbers of esports and gaming startups with regional ambitions to Singapore. From the game developers’ perspective, Southeast Asia is the next frontier. Singapore is taking the regional lead due to its infrastructure, B2B enterprise landscape and talent pool.
Singapore’s games and esports market was estimated to have grown 15% between 2019 and 2020, with around 220 companies currently, according to the statement from the government agencies. That includes major local players like Sea Ltd.´s Garena Online Pvt. and startups like yup.gg and Storms.
Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., Southeast Asia’s biggest telecom operator, is also getting into esports to engage millennials. After starting its own competitive league in 2018, Singtel expanded its tournaments to a regional scale this year while ramping up investments in mobile-gaming platforms like Storms. Esports continue to be an important part of Singtel’s business strategy as they grow their digital-services offerings to capture new growth areas in the 5G era.
Singapore’s physical esports infrastructure is also being upgraded. The city recently opened a 12,000-square-foot esports experience center, with more venues planned. The company intends to build another integrated esports venue in Singapore as part of its Asia Venue Fund, with facilities including a multipurpose esports arena, esports business hotel, themed retail, a training academy and flexible co-working spaces.