This is the fourth post of “Now in Vietnam“, where TechNode visits Vietnam’s leading companies, to explore the next startup ecosystem to emerge among Southeast Asian countries. Vietnam GDP growth could surpass China by 2020 according to Turicum Investment Management.

The cream of the US$ 215 million-sized Vietnam’s mobile gaming market is coming from these three demographics of gamers: A teenage male student, business man over 30s, and an office girl in the 20s, according to SohaGame.

 Now is the time for global game companies to enter the Vietnam market, otherwise it will be too late to skim the cream. The volume of Vietnam mobile game market in 2016 was US$ 215 million, an increase of 18% YoY but strongly decreased in comparing the growth rate of 52.5% in 2015. The market will reach to the saturated point in 2019 with around US$ 295 million, according to Vietnam Mobile game market report 2016 released by GameK.

According to the report, there were 216 new mobile games released in 2016, up 51% compared to 2015 (143 new games), meaning there were almost 2 new games released every 3 days. However, revenues in the market only increased by 18%. Also, 35% of newly released games shut down their service right in the first year.

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Vietnam will stay as a promising game market in the SE Asia region, but the competition will get fiercer, as Hieu Ha Trung, business director of SohaGame puts it, “the market is not open to everyone like 2 or 3 years ago.” SohaGame is one of the top 2 mobile game publishers in Vietnam based on the number of new games released in 2016, with more than 23 released games.

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Hieu Ha Trung, co-founder and business director of SohaGame served in the Ho Chi Minh-based company over six years and helped its mobile games like reach its highest peak visits. We talked to him about his gaming industry insights in Vietnam and tips for global gaming companies entering the Vietnam market.

Who are Vietnam’s gamers?

There are 3 types of typical Vietnamese gamers in my mind: A teenage male student, business man over 30s, an office girl in 20s.

  • A teenage male student, who loves to play games day and night, he plays games after he wakes up, in the school during break times. He doesn’t have much money, but he is willing to spend about US$ 20-40 per month for his favorite games. Normally he plays 2-3 games at the same time, he loves manga, anime, Chinese and Hollywood movie and can play all games with those themes.
  • A business man over 30, who still remembers all traditional Chinese movies he watched when he was a small child like Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, and Jinyong Kungfu novels. He loves to play the games which can remind him of those good memories. He is busy and can only play games for about 1-2 hours per day when he has free time. He is picky but loyal to the games he likes and is willing to spend money on them.
  • An office girl in her 20s, who never play games before, but now she loves killing time on match-3 games or some farming games. She plays for fun, spends a little money on each game she plays. She loves to show the result she gained in the games to her friends.

What types of game appeal to Vietnam’s gamers?

The most popular games in Vietnam are still MMORPG (Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), card battle and ARPG (Action Role-Playing Game) with Chinese or manga stories.

VR game is the new trend in the next 2 or 3 years, now we see it still has some barriers in the hardware to reach to all normal gamers as a personal device or for home play. During the next 3 years, e-sport on mobile will be very potential in Vietnam and the region, we are expecting a booming of this new generation of entertainment.

How do you publish your game in Vietnam?

Vietnamese government departments ask companies to have a game operating license. There are 2 types of publishing license required in order to publish games in Vietnam: one for the whole company, and one for each title the company will publish, including the content and technology documents. It’s a big barrier for game companies to enter this business, but in another way, it helps those companies to professionalize their business before providing it to customers.

Why is Vietnamese gaming market the fastest growing market in the Southeast Asia?

Vietnam population is 94 million in 2016, and more than 40% are under 35 years old, and the total number of gamers is 36 million, which is a huge market for the game industry. In geography, Vietnam stays only in one mainland, which is not separated into many islands like the Philippines and Indonesia, and 90% of Vietnam population is from one ethnic; that helps game publishers easier when to publish games and target to the audience.

The basic foundation of internet and 3G in Vietnam is also one of the fastest and cheapest services in the region. Starting from $2.5 USD per month for a 3G subscription fee, you can have 500MB 3G with high speed to play games. Also, the payment method of prepaid phone card is very popular around Vietnam, which helps gamers to buy and pay for the game anywhere, anytime they want.

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at

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