How Gaming Differs Greatly Around the World
Due to the rapid increase in the adoption of gaming as an entertainment medium – be it playing hands-on or as a viewer – around the world, there has been a great deal of all-encompassing analysis and statistical statements about the gaming community as a whole in recent years.
There will be grand sweeping statements such as how much the global gaming and eSports industry are worth, often with very little consideration as to what types of games or forms of games are popular in each region. As we know as gamers, not all games are the same or should be considered as such.
Across the globe, it’s clear to see that there are distinct cultural influences at work that create distinct gaming communities in each region. From the UK to India, to China, Japan, Australia, and the United States, we’re going to dig into how gaming preferences differ around the world.
Mobile is the primary form of gaming in the biggest countries
Mobile gaming, in terms of revenue, is the largest segment of global gaming, with the convenience and free-entry of most games making them very easy for anyone to access. However, in the western world, mobile gaming is seen as a lesser form or supplementary of gaming and, by some, not even considered to be 'real' gaming.
While the games certainly don’t boast the depth and graphical quality of console and PC games and are often subject to the freemium model, mobile has become the primary platform for many people all over the world. Where smartphone penetration is on the rise and, generally speaking, high-end gaming hardware is too expensive, mobiles have become the portal to gaming.
The most notable markets of mobile gaming just so happen to be the two most populated countries in the world: India and China. In China, there’s set to be over 600 million mobile gamers by 2020. In India, console and PC gaming has never found its footing, but now there is said to be over 250 million mobile gamers, most of whom are highly engaged in gaming. The battle royale games are by far the most popular in India, with PUBG Mobile, Garena Free Fire, and PUBG Lite ruling the scene.
The most popular form of online gaming is different in almost every region
Regional restrictions and licensing agreements will forever hinder game developers from offering their products to the entire world, even if those games are wholly based online. However, it’s because of this that the online slots scene has become so diversified between the continents.
Slots gaming, in its land-based form, has seen many variations, from the classic fruit machine in the UK, western Europe, and in North America, to the pinball-laden, slot-like game of pachinko in Japan. While the games have many names on land, like "pokies" in Australia and New Zealand or "one-armed bandit" in the US, they have all moved under one banner online.
As detailed above, not all regions get the same games, and so, in some areas, this form of gaming isn’t as popular. Due to the diverse selection of games available, playing slots games in the United States has become one of the leading forms of online gaming, following in the footsteps of countries like the UK – where online slot gaming is also very popular.
Titles like T-Rex II, Magic Mushroom, Cubee: Time Travel Adventure, and Trigger Happy are the most popular in the US, with other regions preferring different games, like Fire Dragon and Storm Lords.
Console-loving countries aren’t as simple as the sales figures make out
In this console generation, which started with the PS4 and Xbox One in 2013 and was joined by the Nintendo Switch in 2017, the Sony console smashed the Xbox One in unit sales. Since then, the Switch has even outsold the Xbox One in unit sales. Each console offers different games and different ways to play games, with the hybrid Switch console being the most novel. However, not all regions wanted the Switch package.
After its blockbuster release in March 2017, it was reported that in the Switch’s native Japan, customers were clamoring to just buy the handheld console without the dock that made it a home console. In other nations, the novelty of playing on the go or a TV made the Switch a must-buy, particularly with the chance to finally play games like Pokémon on a big screen.
Japan, on the other hand, wasn’t having any of it and wanted a handheld-only version for sale. Nintendo obliged by offering a stripped-down bundle for those who only wanted to play in handheld mode. Such compliance certainly helped unit sales in Japan, with Nintendo going on to create a handheld-only version, the Nintendo Switch Lite, for a worldwide release.
A diverse world of gaming
These regional differences are very important for companies in the industry to take note of, especially as the industry tries to grow its competitive gaming scene of eSports. An example of this can already be seen in eSports, in fact, with the Asia-Pacific region making up 57 percent of the global enthusiast population despite North America accounting for more revenue.
This is due to North America being console-centric while nations like China and the Korea Republic favor mobile gaming and have long had easy access to PC gaming through internet cafés. As such, for it to reach a greater audience, thus more revenue, eSports should seek to promote more mobile eSports for this massive audience segment.
The world of gaming is vast and diverse, with the term 'gaming' meaning very different things to different people around the globe.
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