In a new report titled "Online Games Market in Vietnam," internet and technology consulting firm Pearl Research predicts that Vietnam will have over 10 million online gamers by 2011.
Speaking to Gamasutra following the announcement, the firm's Allison Luong pinpointed some of the top games in the region as including online dance game Audition
and Swordsmen Online
, an MMORPG.
She particularly noted: "Most of the games in Vietnam are sourced from China and Korea. Korean and Chinese game developers and operators have been extremely aggressive about licensing content to Vietnam. The Vietnamese market is an emerging opportunity and many Asian content providers view this market as a high priority."
Interestingly, in terms of Western titles, World of Warcraft
-- a massive smash elsewhere in Asia -- is not currently available officially in Vietnam. However, Luong pointed out to Gamasutra that Electronic Arts is in the process of launching FIFA Online
, and is one of the first U.S. companies to license a game in the market.
According to the interviews with Vietnamese gamers in Pearl Research's reports, many spend 60,000₫ to 10,000₫ (U.S.$3 to $6) per month on virtual item purchases, with gamers at one high-end Internet cafe report spending an average of 500,000₫ ($31) per month.
The firm also attributes this increase of online gamers to increasing PC and Internet penetration rates -- Vietnam currently has some 21 million internet users and a 23.5 percent internet penetration rate.
With 50 percent of the total Vietnamese populace under the age of 25, Pearl Research believes that tech-savvy youth seeking entertainment content will turn to online games, making them a high-priority demographic for digital entertainment companies.
Despite this forecasted growth, Pearl Research notes that Vietnam's emerging online games market faces several critical challenges, such as government regulations on online games, the worldwide slowing economy, developing infrastructure, and low income levels.