The internet is an almost infinite font of entertainment, yet with so many fast-moving trends exploding at any one time, it can be difficult to track what’s hot and what’s not.
Asia has its own unique online entertainment trends to consider, so here are just a few of the movements that are gaining traction in 2020.
Alternative FPS games are big business
In the West, there are a few big name games that take up the lion’s share of the online first person shooter market, with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and the latest Call of Duty title tending to duke it out for the top spot in this niche of online entertainment. However, in Asia there are rivals to this major franchises which are rarely talked about elsewhere in the world.
Crossfire is arguably the most significant of this group, since it has made more than $10 billion since it emerged over a decade ago and has more than 600 million users currently signed up. The fact that it borrows heavily from a much earlier version of Counter-Strike should not detract from its success, and it continues to outpace hotshot up-and-comers like Fortnite thanks largely to its dedicated Chinese playerbase.
Online gambling is on the rise
Although it is not officially sanctioned in many parts of the continent, online gambling is still incredibly popular and is growing its revenues in places such as China, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere.
Sites like Casumo now cater specifically to Asian audiences, offering them localised gaming experiences across a range of gambling activities including slots and table games like poker.
Since smartphone ownership is so rife in many countries, particularly in South Korea where 95 per cent of people have a cutting edge handset, it is no surprise that mobile support is offered by the majority of online gambling providers. This is helping to catalyse the uptake of these services, even if the operators themselves are based elsewhere in the world.
Shortform video is the king of social media
TikTok has become one of the most influential and widely used social media apps in the world, with its popularity in Asia unexpectedly translating into success in the West as well, even though this transition took a combination of company mergers and AI to achieve.
Today, the shortform video formats that TikTok has popularised are not only becoming ubiquitous, but are also increasing in their sophistication. What started as a means of letting teens lipsync to their favourite pop songs has since evolved to allow everything from comedy and satire to serious news reporting to be broadcast to hundreds of millions of users.
In-app purchases are still controversial
Free-to-play games may now be common around the world, but the concept of in-app purchases being used as a means of wringing cash from customers rather than requiring them to pay anything upfront for the core game itself is one which first rose to prominence in Asia.
In 2020, mobile and desktop games with in-app purchases are still incredibly important to the online entertainment industry in Asia as a whole, even if ongoing controversy around this issue persists.
So-called ‘loot boxes’ are especially controversial because they are perceived as being equivalent to gambling by campaigners, albeit a form that is available to youngsters as well as adults.
Efforts by countries including China to curtail the use of loot boxes in games have seen some positive changes in the past couple of years, but they generate so much money for developers that they will not be eliminated entirely without a fight of epic proportions.