Unlocking New Worlds: How Gaming is Leading Southeast Asia’s Journey into Web3

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Image: YGG Web3 Games Summit 2023

Gaming in Southeast Asia is more than just a hobby; it’s an integral part of everyday life. With over 118m mobile gamers in 2023, the region is a thriving hub for digital playscapes. A youthful population, an expanding middle class, and improving internet infrastructure are fuelling this growth. Indonesia, with its 64 million gamers (approx. 23% of the population), and the Philippines, home to 31 million (approx 27%), are leading this digital shift.

A familiar introduction to Web3

Unlike in Western markets where mainstream interest in Web3 often stemmed from digital art and brand engagements, gaming has become the gateway to understanding blockchain technology in Southeast Asia.

“In Southeast Asia, the NFT art market is nascent. Do we have artists experimenting with it? Sure. But a big barrier remains: we don’t have the strong infrastructure and cultural institutions needed to grow this frontier,” explains Chris Fussner, a co-founder at Tropical Futures Institute.

Mobile gaming offers a more familiar and accessible path. “Especially during the pandemic, people resorted to gaming as a form of not only leisure but also a potential income source when traditional job opportunities were scarce. It‘s through gaming that many Southeast Asians first encountered NFTs and cryptocurrencies,” he adds.

Gaming for money, a double-edged sword

The rise of “play-to-earn” games, such as Axie Infinity in the Philippines, exemplifies a shift in the gaming landscape. In countries with limited social security and a reliance on informal jobs, these games offered hope, hinting at a more equitable economic future. However, not long after the boom, the player base began to dwindle as many found the system frustrating, offering false promises of easy earnings. The game’s economic model, initially seen as a lifeline, led to significant risks and loss, especially for some of the more financially vulnerable players.

Despite this setback, the vision for blockchain gaming remains optimistic. Organisations such as Yield Guild Games (YGG) are stepping up to reshape the landscape and fostering a supportive international community of gamers in the hundreds of thousands.

“At YGG, we’re directly involved with Web 3 games, infrastructure creators, and guild partners to create a more open and collaborative gaming ecosystem. Our model ensures guild members are rewarded for their contributions and simultaneously develop new skills”, explains Gabby Dizon, co-founder of YGG. “Ultimately, our goal is to forge authentic connections between players and games,” he adds.

Image: YGG Pixels Community

A future for games beyond entertainment

“Gaming in Southeast Asia resonates because it’s fun and hopeful,” Fussner explains, “It has introduced the mainstream audiences to a life-changing financial tool. In an uncertain world like today, having an alternative way to safeguard your wealth from local economic turmoil can make a huge difference in a person’s life”.

While acknowledging the gaming system is far from perfect, Fussner notes organisations like YGG are working hard to improve the ecosystem for everyone involved. He believes that gaming platforms will increasingly become tools for inclusivity and equity; he notes, “Gaming is Southeast Asia’s strongest digital frontier, and its most transformative era is only approaching”.

Expert Profile

  • Chris Fussner

    Chris Fussner

    Chris Fussner

    Chris Fussner is a multidisciplinary designer and strategist delving into culture and technology, focusing on tropicality, networks, and innovation. He is one of the founders of the design research agency Tropical Futures Institute, based in the Philippines. Fussner was also the founding curator of the Digital section at Art Dubai in 2022, a major global event for digital artists and galleries. His work has been featured in Wired, Mold Magazine, Ocula, and Hypebeast. Fussner is a Parsons School of Design graduate with a BBA in Design Strategy.
    Image: Chris Fussner, Co-Founder of Tropical Futures Institute

  • Yield Guild Games (YGG)

    Yield Guild Games (YGG)

    Yield Guild Games (YGG) is the world’s first and largest Web3 gaming guild where players can find their community, discover games, and level up together. YGG is committed to providing its members opportunities to succeed in Web3 gaming through various questing initiatives such as Superquests and the Guild Advancement Program (GAP). From its roots in the Philippines to its global network of regional guilds and partnerships, YGG caters to an ever-expanding community of gamers and blockchain enthusiasts.

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    WGSN

    WGSN Is The World's Leading Consumer Trend Forecaster. Our Accurate Forecasts Provide Global Trend Insights, Expertly Curated Data And Industry Expertise To Help Our Clients Understand Consumer Behaviour And Lifestyles, Create Products With Confidence And Trade At The Right Time.

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