Thailand's game potential praised

Thailand's game potential praised

Thailand has the potential to become Southeast Asia's video game capital, propelled by a strong gamer community and talented developers, according to video game entrepreneurs at Thailand Game Show Big Festival 2017.

The show, the biggest video game industry event in the country, runs through tomorrow at Siam Paragon under the theme "City of Games" in collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The event is expected to generate 120 million baht in revenue and attract 120,000 visitors, mainly in the preteen segment.

"Thailand is the fastest-growing video game market in Southeast Asia, thanks to its strong social media penetration, availability of affordable devices and variety of game titles," said Torboon Puangmaha, managing director of True Media Solutions Co, a co-host of the exhibition.

The country has 28 million gamers, including 1.2 million hard-core gamers and thousands of e-sports gamers.

According to gaming research firm NewZoo, the Thailand gaming market is expected to top US$2 billion (66.2 billion baht) in 2025, up from $597 million in 2017 -- sustaining average yearly growth of 15%.

Pongsuk Hiranprueck, managing director of Show No Limit Co, the organiser of Thailand Game Show during the past 10 years, said video games are becoming a sport just like those featured in the Olympics.

Gamers are going professional and starting to derive sizeable income from playing games.

Takon Niyomthai, manager of Lenovo Thailand's consumer business group, exhibited Legion, a brand of gaming desktops and notebooks.

The PC gaming market is expected to account for 15-20% of the Thai video game market in 2017, up from 6% last year.

The surge in market share was fuelled by competition among computer makers, driving down the price of gaming computers. The average gaming notebook, formerly selling in the upper 30,000 baht range, now goes for under 25,000.

Virtual reality and augmented reality games are expected to make their entry into the mass market in 2018.

Raymond Pao, HTC's vice-president for virtual reality in Asia-Pacific, said his company launched the VR headset Vive in October in Thailand. Singapore is the only other country in Southeast Asia where HTC has launched the device.

"Thailand has strong potential for VR, due to its huge game community and economy," Mr Pao said. "The market needs more than two years to take off, however, and needs more content and user types."

The Vive headset retails for 30,599 baht and is distributed by Synnex Plc. Like in Taiwan (where HTC has its own arcade), the company plans to introduce the device to internet cafes.

The company also plans to bundle its headset with specially discounted PCs from makers like Acer and Dell's Alienware.

"We are also finding partners that can rent the devices, a model that is already running in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and which has received positive feedback from corporate users," Mr Pao said.

HTC's virtual reality products focus on gaming, he said, but many clients are enterprise or corporate users using VR for training and education.

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