Asian Beat #6: Five Insights Into the Thai Mobile Games Market

By Thomas Sommer | March 25th, 2015

Welcome to the 6th instalment of the Asian Beat Series! After a stroll through Vietnam, we are now diving into a second South-East Asian country, Thailand. This time we benefit from the insights of games research company Newzoo. (Check out the other products of our fruitful collaboration: the Global Mobile Games Landscape as well as Mobile Games Marketing in Asia’s Big 3).

Although not the largest market in the region, Thailand should not be left out when considering the distribution of your mobile games in South-East Asia. Thailand is, after all, the largest market for games in South-East Asia with a 21% share and should hold the leader position until 2017.

Newzoo CEO Peter Warman confirms:

Thailand’s thriving games industry is a major force in the global market. Securing its place in the global top 20 countries, game revenues in Thailand will exceed $490 million in 2017. About 60% of these revenues will come from mobile, by far the fastest growing segment. With the still fast-rising (mobile) internet connectivity in the region, there is huge potential for continued growth, pointing to enormous opportunities for mobile developers.”

Here are our top five insights into the Thai mobile games market!


(credit: Newzoo)

1. The Thai Mobile Games Market Is Not to Be Overlooked

Although relatively small compared to the bigger Asian countries, the Thai mobile games market is on a steep growth curve. The total revenue from mobile games in Thailand reached $93.5 million in 2014 and should increase up to almost $300 million in 2017. Mobile currently makes up over 40% of all games revenue in Thailand, and this share is due to reach over 60% in 2017.

Thai Mobile Games Market Revenue

In 2014 there were 13.8 million mobile players in Thailand out of a smartphone base of 20 million and a total population of 67.1 million. It is worth noting that Vietnam, although benefiting from an overall higher population (89.7 million), has a much lower overall games market share out of all SEA countries (14% vs 21% for Thailand). The mobile penetration in Thailand lies around 130% (as many people have two or three SIM cards), and smartphone penetration is at almost 50%.

In terms of monetization, close to half of Thai mobile players have already spent money in a game (45.6%).

2. To Succeed, You’d Better Get in Line

Japanese over-the-top (OTT) messaging app Line managed to establish itself early on in Thailand’s mobile games market by providing the main instant messaging service there, which consequently brought mobile games along with it. Although apps published with Line are no longer as prevalent as they used to, they still make up an important part of Thailand’s top grossing apps.

As a mobile game publisher, you should in any case consider publishing with Line to make a successful entry into the Thai market.


3. Think About the Local Monetization Specifics

Very few Thai players use credit cards, as they don’t trust them for mobile payments. Instead they are used to local payment channels, mainly prepaid systems such as payment gateways or game cards. The main payment methods are MOL points (linked to Facebook), One-2-Calls, Cherry Credits and MyCard. Head here for a more comprehensive and in-depth descriptions of all available channels.

Thai Mobile Games Market payment

4. Localization Is a Key Success Factor

Although this is true of almost all non-English speaking countries (except maybe Sweden and the Netherlands), taking into account cultural differences and local trends into account is key when publishing mobile games in the Thai mobile games market. Among other particularities, Thai players are known to stay away from paid games and have strong preference for Free-to-Play titles. They are also known to often switch between different F2P titles. Localization of both the game and its marketing assets (banners, app store collaterals) is not an option, as only 27% of the population speaks English.


From สงครามยอดมนุษย์ - Heroes Saga by shuangbin he

5. Western Brands Can Do Well in Thailand

In January 2014, seven out of the top 20 iOS games came from Western publishers. The majority of these titles came from the big players, such as King and Supercell. With the right approach in localization, publishing and monetization however, the Thai market can be a wise move for any mobile game publisher.

What is your experience of publishing games in Thailand? Let us know in the comments!

Thomas Sommer
Thomas heads up content marketing at AppLift. As such he’s in charge of sourcing, curating, creating and distributing insightful content to increase visibility and thought leadership for the company. Thomas loves to scrutinize the relentless and trilling developments of the mobile industry. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.