When talking about gaming in the East, most people would pay more attention to Japan’s massively successful gaming culture or China’s rapid growth in the market, and end up overlooking some other important markets in the region.
Vietnam is one of those markets that has great potential for big developments regarding video games but is still under the radar to most foreign investors.
Video gaming is one of the most popular cultural aspects in Vietnam. It’s not unusual to see rows of Vietnamese youngsters cramping inside internet cafes & spend hours playing online games every day.
When video games first become popular in the country, most Vietnamese gamers were teenagers (13-19 years old); however, these days, it’s not that weird to see several twenty-somethings, or even primary school kids, sitting alongside the teenagers and competing against them.
Vietnamese people love to play games. The country is known as the largest online game market by value in Southeast Asia, boasting sales of around $200 million in 2012 (Brown 2013).
A survey done by Viettrack (2010) on Vietnamese kids behaviours revealed that “playing online games” is the main source of entertainment for most Vietnamese children.
In 2013, it’s estimated that the country had more than 13 million video game players (Brown 2013). Grubb (2014) predicted that Vietnam will experience the largest growth in the number of gamers in Southeast Asia over the next five years.
Despite how busy life can be for most of them, Vietnamese gamers are still able to find some spare time to satisfy their thirst for gaming. Some choose to play at home with offline games, but most gamers find it’s more exhilarating playing with others at Internet cafes.
In 2010, it was estimated that were 4000 internet cafes in Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi (Ives 2010). According to Ives (2010), most patrons of internet cafes in Vietnam visit four or five times per week, and spend up to 10 hours a session playing online role-play games.
Online gaming has become so big in Vietnam that in 2010, the Vietnamese government had to announced new Internet restrictions for cyber cafes, in fear of online games and their bad influence on Vietnamese youth. They also order Vietnamese internet companies to shut down online-gaming servers after 10PM, and develop software to monitor computer usage at these Internet cafes to limit the time people spend on online gaming. Despite all that restrictions, Vietnamese gamers still find ways to bypass it and enjoy their online gaming experience.
The Vietnamese’s gaming scene is comprised of an assortment of games distributed or developed by local and international companies. Favourite gaming genres for the country’s gamers are free-to-play massive online battle arena (MOBA) & player kill (PK). Some of the favourite gaming choices of Vietnamese gamers are League of Legends, DOTA 2, World of Warcraft, etc.
Mobile gaming is also growing at a blazing speed in the Vietnamese gaming community after the massive success of Vietnam-made games “Flappy Bird” & “Swing Copters”.
In the past, one of the interesting things about Vietnamese gamers is that, while they played a lot of games, they usually avoided Vietnam-originated games. At that time most of the games played by gamers in Vietnam belonged to either China or South Korea. Now, after the success of “Flappy Bird” & “Swing Copters”, more and more Vietnamese gamers are showing more support for games made by Vietnamese developers.
There is no doubt that video games are super popular in Vietnam, and Vietnamese gamers’ skills are now as good as those of players in any other countries.
Now and in the future there will definitely be a lot of changes & developments regarding the gaming culture. One thing is for sure: Video game culture in Vietnam is growing strong and not fading away anytime soon.
Brown, M 2013, “Vietnam: a nation of online gamers dominated by Chinese and Korean games”, Deutsche Welle, viewed on 27 May 2015, <http://www.dw.de/vietnam-a-nation-of-online-gamers-dominated-by-chinese-and-korean-games/a-17175035>
Grubb, J 2014, “It’s not all China: Vietnam, Indonesia lead a booming Southeast Asia games market”, Venture Beat, viewed on 27 May 2015, <http://venturebeat.com/2014/12/04/its-not-all-china-vietnam-indonesia-lead-a-booming-southeast-asian-games-market/>
Ives, M 2010, “Vietnam: Online gamers elude crackdown”, GlobalPost, viewed on 27 May 2015, <http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/vietnam/101222/online-gaming-internet-restrictions>
Viettrack 2010, “Vietnamese Kids’ Behaviors”, Slideshare, viewed on 27 May 2014, <http://www.slideshare.net/anhlebksp/vietnamese-kids-behaviors-2010>