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Macro Research

Why Asia Will Drive the Next Web3 Gaming Bull Run?

Latest updates: Oct 20 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Asia has a huge potential to dominate the Web3 gaming space compared to other global peers due to its huge gamer population, crypto-friendly nature, robust government support, commitment to financial inclusion and high mobile penetration.
  • Key gaming hubs at the forefront of this movement include Japan, South Korea China/Hong Kong and the rising star, Vietnam, with the prominent Axie Infinity/Ronin project.
  • The next Web3 gaming bull run is expected to be initiated by traditional Asian gaming giants, such as SEGA, Square Enix, Nintendo, Nexon, and Netmarble.
  • China holds a dominant position in the global gaming industry, but the government's strict stance on cryptocurrency presents challenges for Web3 gaming. Meanwhile, Hong Kong is emerging as a crypto and blockchain hub, attracting international companies and serving as a gateway for China's entry into the Web3 realm. Animoca Brands plays a key role in driving Web3 gaming innovation in Hong Kong.
  • The Web3 gaming trend is rapidly spreading across Asia, with each country hosting potential projects, including Treeverse in Singapore, YGG in the Philippines, and Avarik Saga and Mythic Protocol in Indonesia.

The gaming industry is considered the eighth art of the world. What might surprise you is that it is significantly larger than the music and film industries and is even twice the size of the two industries combined.

Within this realm, Asia, with its impressive gamer base and track record, is leading this colossal industry. Why?

It's home to a whopping 1.7 billion gamers, over half of the world's gaming population and has contributed an impressive 2023 revenue of approximately $86 billion (nearly half of the worldwide gaming revenue according to NewZoo). To top it off, 67 out of the top 100 (67%) gaming companies by market capitalization are from Asia, with leading countries including China, Japan, and South Korea. Notably, Asia has also seen a surge in early-stage gaming studios receiving substantial VC funding, outpacing its global peers (Konvoy Ventures).

Screenshot 2023-10-20 at 13.13.35.pngSource: NewZoo

As the industry continues to evolve, the emergence of Web3 gaming introduces a new layer of possibilities, where value propositions take center stage. It has the potential to transform the entire gaming industry, offering a lucrative market for true innovators and leaders. With such a solid foundation, Asia is poised to spearhead the next Web3 gaming breakout. Numerous players already have plans in store to embrace the upcoming ride. Let’s dive into the Web3 movement within the gaming hubs of this dynamic region:


Japan has a long history of gaming back in the 80s. The influence of Japanese culture on games created globally is apparent, with iconic figures like Sonic, Pokemon and Super Mario. Japan's influence extends beyond character-based recognition, many of the world’s beloved gaming consoles like PlayStation and Nintendo also originate from the innovative minds of Japanese creators.

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Source: Various

So what are they planning for the Web3 segment? Plenty!

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida labelled Web3 as a "new form of capitalism." We start to see the traditional Japanese gaming giants venturing into Web3 with numerous initiatives.

  • Square Enix, a renowned Japanese game company famous for titles like "Final Fantasy" and "Dragon Quest," is eyeing blockchain games as a part of its long-term growth strategy. They are actively working on "Symbiogenesis," an NFT game with 10,000 unique tokens, set for release on the Polygon blockchain. This move demonstrates Square Enix's commitment to exploring the potential of blockchain gaming.
  • Another gaming giant, SEGA, recently rolled out its flagship trading card game (TCG) called “Battle of Three Kingdoms” in collaboration with Double Jump Tokyo. This game, based on SEGA's Sangokushi Taisen franchise, incorporates blockchain elements using Oasys technology.
  • Notably, the Pokémon franchise, managed primarily by Nintendo, dominates as the highest-grossing media franchise globally. Recently, Pokémon ventured into Web3 with on-chain Pokémon card packs, signalling new opportunities for Nintendo's IPs to embrace blockchain technology. This move could act as a gateway, attracting traditional gamers into the world of Web3 gaming while leveraging Nintendo's iconic IPs.

And talking about Japan, it's essential to highlight one of its cultural gems - anime. Anime is a worldwide phenomenon and is loved by people across the globe, especially among Gen Z. It has an extremely passionate fanbase who are loyal to the IPs. In Japan, otakus spend an average of approximately $340 per year on anime-related games (Statista, 2022). Anime fandom has also translated into insanely successful hero-collector RPG games, called gacha games. Titles like Fate/Grand Order, Genshin Impact, and Honkai have all generated billions in revenue globally in this genre (data.ai). For Web3 game builders, strategically incorporating anime-related elements into their games can serve as a powerful strategy to attract traditional gamers/anime lovers to the Web3 space. In this context, Animoca Brands Japan is partnering with Drecom Corporations (the developer behind the hit game One Piece Treasure Cruise) to spearhead the global expansion of Japan's Web3 gaming sector. This partnership will bring beloved IPs like One Piece to a wider audience.

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Project Zircon by Konami

South Korea

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Source: Various

Today the term eSports is almost synonymous with South Korea. In nearly every top-ranking online game, especially in the MOBA genre, you’ll find at least one Korean player somewhere near the top of the list if not the top (titles like StarCraft, League of Legends, Overwatch, and PUBG are prime examples). This dominance can be traced back to South Korea's social culture, which places a strong emphasis on competition, elevating eSports to the status of a popular spectator sport. Even professional Korean gamers are seen as celebrities in their own right. In fact, a staggering 76% of the population played video games in 2021 (NewZoo).

The thriving gaming scene can be credited to the active support from South Korea’s government. The country’s government has been providing funding for eSports events and recognizing eSports players as athletes since 2000, solidifying its status as the birthplace and global powerhouse of eSports.

Korean game companies are also diving into the Web3 space. Here are some sneak peeks:

  • Wemade, valued at $2B, struck gold with "Mir 4 Global," developing its Layer-1 blockchain, WEMIX Chain.
  • Netmarble is also on the blockchain train, with Marblex and FNCY on Klaytn and BSC platforms. Marblex, boasting 13M users and 22.5M game downloads in 2022, plans a big move with a game featuring its core IP, “Let’s Get Rich.”
  • Meanwhile, Com2uS, a mid-sized player, is crafting XPLA, a PoS blockchain utilizing the Cosmos SDK, as it seeks to expand its gaming influence further (DappRadar).
  • In recent months, Nexon has taken the spotlight in the Web3 gaming scene. They are developing a highly anticipated blockchain ecosystem centered around the 20-year-old MMO game, MapleStory. This ecosystem enables players to trade in-game assets, such as outfits, equipment, and virtual pets, in the form of NFTs. The fact that approximately 160,000 players (data from MapleStory’s blog) in South Korea are still actively engaged with MapleStory today suggests a promising avenue for onboarding Korean gamers into the Web3 space.

It's noteworthy that Korean gaming companies don't operate in isolation; rather, they embrace collaboration. Even firms developing their own games actively invest in each other, fostering robust connections within the ecosystem. This spirit of cooperation extends to VCs, established companies, emerging studios, and infrastructure providers, all united in their efforts to nurture the sector.

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Source: Glip Research

China & Hong Kong

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Source: Various


China, often regarded as the gaming capital of the world, holds a dominant position in the global video game industry, contributing to approximately 25% of its revenue. Additionally, China boasts the world's largest eSports market, paralleled only by South Korea in Asia. China's online gaming sector stands as the largest globally, with an impressive 668 million players and a staggering $45 billion in revenue in 2022 (Statista). Some noteworthy titles that have emerged from China include the widely acclaimed games Fantastic Westward Journey, Genshin Impact, and Hokai: Star Rail.

Regarding the Web3 sector, it's important to note that the Chinese government has taken a strict stance against cryptocurrency transactions, banning them within its borders. It is a roadblock for Web3 gaming to flourish. On the flip side, recent developments in Hong Kong have revealed a new regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies, allowing licensed exchanges to serve retail investors. This movement potentially influences a change in China's approach to digital assets, as evidenced by their recently released whitepaper on Internet 3.0, indicating an openness to embrace Web3 in the future. It's worth noting that Hong Kong has historically served as a testing ground for initiatives later adopted by mainland China (TechCrunch).

Beyond China, Tencent, a major player in the tech industry, has ventured into the Web3 arena through financial investments. One notable example is its support for Australia's Web3 gaming company, Immutable. This strategic move showcases Tencent's interest in the emerging Web3 gaming space and its efforts to expand its presence beyond its home market. If Tencent makes the move, it’s unlikely that other competitors will remain bystanders.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has emerged as a pivotal player in the world of crypto and blockchain technology, rivalling even Singapore in its significance. The city has garnered the attention of numerous international crypto companies, many of which have chosen to establish their presence within its borders due to its strategic location and strong economic stability. This influx of global crypto enterprises speaks volumes about Hong Kong's reputation as an attractive hub for the digital currency and Web3 sectors.

To solidify its position as a global crypto hub, Hong Kong has created a regulatory framework that welcomes talents and expertise from around the world. This open and inviting strategy positions Hong Kong not only as a thriving center for crypto but also as a gateway for China's foray into the exciting Web3 gaming space. As the lines between traditional gaming and blockchain technology continue to blur, Hong Kong's role as a bridge between these two worlds is becoming increasingly significant.

Animoca Brands, a prominent HK-based software and venture capital company, plays a key role on this front with a focus on driving Web3 gaming innovation. Animoca Brands has made its name in the crypto community with extensive investments in 450+ well-known Web3 games/projects such as The Sandbox, Otherside, YGG, Dapper Labs and Star Atlas. With such a wide-ranging portfolio that spans the entire spectrum of industry verticals, they are progressively cementing its mission to drive innovation in the Web3 gaming landscape

“To deliver digital property rights to the world's gamers and Internet users, thereby creating a new asset class, play-to-earn economies, and a more equitable digital framework contributing to the building of the open metaverse.”

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Animoca Brands’s ambitious Web3 investment portfolio with a strong focus on gaming


Vietnam may not have the global gaming clout of giants like China, Japan, or South Korea, but it's proving to be a rising star in the industry. Gaming titles like Flappy Bird, Axie Infinity and Magic Tiles all make a phenomenal hit in the global market with few people knowing they are made in Vietnam.

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Source: Various

From concern to belief, government officials have started to acknowledge the potential of the mobile games industry, which is poised to grow at a 6.42% CAGR in the coming years (Statista). In fact, the country ranked among the world’s top five in mobile game production in the first half of 2023 (Bloomberg). This shift in perspective is exemplified by the first-ever Vietnam GameVerse Day 2023 in Ho Chi Minh City, where the government proudly promoted Vietnam as a burgeoning hub for entertainment app development. They now view the gaming industry as both an export asset and a key player in the nation's burgeoning tech sector (Bloomberg).

Regarding the Web3 realm, Vietnam burst onto the scene in late 2021 from the big hit monster battling game Axie Infinity. Developed by Sky Mavis, Axie Infinity became a sensation in the crypto and Web3 space, gaining massive popularity and kicking off the P2E trend. However, the game also drew global attention when it fell victim to a notorious $600 million heist on the Ronin network.

Regardless, Sky Mavis survived the downfall, and Ronin's ecosystem has been thriving ever since. As of writing, the gaming chain has welcomed 5+ non-Axie games, all of which are mobile-focused and targeting the Asian region. These games are receiving close training on live ops and go-to-market strategies. Their strategy is simply as follow: ship fast → fail fast → optimize → scale what works. If this first cohort performs well, Ronin has the potential to attract more outstanding games to its platform, creating a network effect that benefits both the ecosystem and the Web3 (mobile) gaming landscape in Asia.

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Games in Ronin’s ecosystem (Source: @zioaxie). Ronin remains the second-largest blockchain by NFT sales volume

Some notable Web3 games in the Ronin ecosystem include The Machines Area (Directive Games), Battle Bear Heroes (SkyVu) and Pixels Online, all gaining good reputation in the space. Beyond Ronin, Sipher Odyssey (Ather Labs), a highly anticipated ARPG shooter game, is also generating high interest from gamers and investors. Inspired by the success of Sky Mavis, it is anticipated that numerous domestic Web2 gaming giants like VNG and VTC Game will soon follow suit (or already conducting internal testing) with their innovative offerings.

What’s Going On In the Rest of Asia

  • Treeverse, by Singapore's Endless Clouds, is a highly anticipated triple-A MMORPG in the Web3 gaming space. The founder - Loopify is also an active advocate of Web3 gaming, sharing great insights and thought-provoking ideas around this exciting segment.
  • Singaporean game studio Mighty Bear Games recently gained recognition for its game "Mighty Action Heroes," which is now part of the thriving Treasure ecosystem.
  • Binance is a go-to name regarding crypto exchange in Asia, often regarded as a Web3 conglomerate. Regarding Web3 gaming, Binance stands out by holding nearly a third of the gaming market share (Footprint Analytics) and making extensive investments in Web3-gaming-related projects namely Fusionist and Xterio.
  • Yield Guild Games (YGG), originating in the Philippines, emerged from the Axie Infinity trend in 2021 and pioneered the guild model. Their growth extends with YGG SEA, with a strategic focus on Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, setting the stage for the next era of games and gamers leveraging the potential of Web3 technology.
  • Nakamoto Games is set to be the first Web3 gaming platform to enter a permanent collaboration with Mahidol University, which is one of the best schools in Thailand. The project aims to recruit the best young engineers and developers to spread the word about Web3 gaming nationwide.
  • Indonesia's Web3 gaming ecosystem is just beginning to take off with Avarik Saga and Mythic Protocol. Avarik Saga, a JRPG, is crafted by a team led by Kevin Cahya, formerly of East Ventures, an Indonesian VC firm, and is set to debut next year. Meanwhile, Mythic Protocol, from Agate, a prominent Indonesian game company, secured a substantial $6.5 million seed round backed by crypto VCs Shima Capital and Alpha Ventures.

Other Drives That Make the Difference

As shared by Yat Siu (co-founder of Animoca Brands) along with well-acclaimed panellists at Token2049 2023, in Western societies, there's a prevailing caution and skepticism when it comes to changes that appear to prioritize financial gain or economic interests above all else. This sentiment is particularly evident in the realm of cryptocurrency, where current regulatory issues in the US have created an opportunity for Asian countries to take a more proactive role and speed up.

Whereas across Asia, there's a clear drive toward achieving financial democratization and mass crypto adoption. For them, it is a rare opportunity to advance in terms of becoming a crypto leader against the West which has been a dominant force for decades. Governments across these nations are actively embracing new technologies and implementing policies to support crypto and blockchain development.

The trend has been reflected in significant statistics. Central and Southern Asian nations boast some of the highest global crypto adoption rates in 2023, as reported by Chainalysis. Additionally, Asia's dominance extends to the Web3 gaming space, with the region hosting the majority of the top 15 countries showing the most interest in this emerging sector (CoinGecko). That being said, even if the next triple-A games or phenomenal hits originate in the West, their largest player base is likely to be in Asian countries.

Asia/APAC appears to have the highest mobile penetration rate, with a rapid rise from 44% in 2021, boasting 1.2 billion mobile internet users, to a projected 52% by 2025, reaching a staggering 1.5 billion users (GMS Association). What's more, this region has solidified its position as the prime global hub for mobile games by revenue, with RPGs taking the lead as the top favourite genre (data.ai). This combination of widespread mobile use and a deep passion for gaming sets the stage for an exciting future in Web3 mobile gaming throughout this region.

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SWOT analysis on Web3 gaming in Asia

Closing Thoughts

To wrap it up, the future of Web3 gaming in Asia looks incredibly bright. With a massive gamer population, a forward-thinking approach to technology, substantial government backing and a high commitment to financial inclusion, Asia stands out to be a fertile ground for crypto and Web3 games development. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on the activities of gaming powerhouses such as Sega, Nintendo, Nexon and Netmarble. As the saying goes “watch what they do, not what they say.” If they make significant moves into Web3 and successfully bring traditional gamers to the Web3 world, they could trigger a ripple effect across the gaming landscape.

Also, we should not forget the fact that Axie Infinity, while fading from the spotlight since the last bull run, is still the leading Web3 game in the space with an active fan base and highly recognizable IP. Their proven success is a honey pot that attracts various great games to join the Ronin ecosystem. Fueled by the ethos of "move fast, break things," Ronin, in collaboration with enthusiastic gaming partners, is forging a strategic alliance aimed at making Web3 games accessible through a mobile-first approach, with a particular focus on the Asian market.

With that said, this space is set to be a thrilling one in Asia in the months ahead, sure to pique the interest of gamers and investors alike. Get ready to ride the wave of the next Web3 gaming bull run!

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  • Key Takeaways
  • Intro
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • China & Hong Kong
  • Vietnam
  • What’s Going On In the Rest of Asia
  • Other Drives That Make the Difference
  • Closing Thoughts