The Gaming Community in Singapore: Live Streaming and Beyond

The most significant change for the last 10 years would be the increase of Internet surfers. Gaming was always a home-based activity and with Singapore’s household broadband rate at a high of 100% and growing numbers of mobile broadband users, more gamers are connected to the vastness of the Internet. This means that many gaming services which were not available to Singapore are now accessible. One example would be MMORPG games such as World of Warcraft having a Southeast Asia server. The increase in Internet means more Singapore gamers are able to connect to international gaming communities. The international gaming communities have a huge influence on local gaming lifestyle. Many of the present gamers have played online games with foreign friends. This has created local gaming memories and an influence of gaming cultures from other countries, such as the gaming event of Halloween in Guild Wars.

The gaming community’s growth in Singapore has developed from a small circle of enthusiasts to the current community of 2.4 million gamers. The gamers’ age profile in Singapore ranges from 15 to 45. Our target audience is a split mixture of these age profiles. The gaming target age has a broader age group range compared to any other country due to the youths growing up with gaming as part of their daily activities. Gaming has been around since the late 80s in Singapore and was always seen as an outlet for teenage rebellion. Thus, the older generation of gamers in Singapore were always seen as gaming being a negative influence or taking over homework time. This negative perception has since faded into the 2000s. There were various initiatives to recognize gaming as a form of technology that will raise the Media Development Authority standards for the Singapore media industry.

The Rise of Live Streaming in Singapore

Recently, online video games have begun to gain a lot of attention. In the past, gaming was considered as a form of leisure activity and not taken seriously compared to other traditional sports. However, gaming has already grown to become a professional sport where many competitions are being held internationally, and prize money of up to millions is involved. Live streaming Singapore was never a hobby in the past compared to today. Right now, it is very common for one to live stream their game while narrating and explaining the game features or what the game can bring. Viewers can interact with the streamer and other viewers about the game and ask for their opinions. The trend moving forward is that games will be best explained in a live streaming Singapore session, and it gives a better experience compared to reading a game review. A notable incident would be when Pokemon Go was first released. Within the first few days, there were many game reviews posted online. But a lot of people tend to search for a gameplay on YouTube, and it is already best explained in a Pokemon Go live stream where seekers can get a live gameplay as well as asking questions.

Live streaming is the broadcasting of real-time video to an audience over the internet. The video is sent to the viewer, and the viewer can watch the video as it arrives. Live streaming is not to be confused with on-demand streaming. On-demand streaming is when a viewer can record a video for viewing at another time. Live streaming is easy to understand and is most suitable for events or occasions that are best viewed as they happen. This gives live video a unique advantage over traditional media. With live streaming gaining popularity, the gaming community in Singapore has observed a rapid increase in gamers choosing to broadcast live stream their games.

Growing Popularity of Live Streaming Platforms

As of now, there is currently no local live streaming platform present in Singapore. Thus, the gaming community depended on stream channels abroad to exhibit their talent. However, in recent times, Singapore’s Media Development Authority has invested in a company called “Live e-sports Entertainment” or Leet for short. This new start-up business aims to develop a live e-sports entertainment platform and promote competitive gaming in Singapore. The platform will have an interactive online TV channel with a 24-hour stream of e-sporting events and reality-based programs targeted at e-sports. This initiative will set the stage for an even stronger rise in the popularity of gaming in Singapore and provide the local gaming community a chance to showcase their talent.

Live streaming platforms such as and its counterparts have hit the shores of South-East Asia recently. Back in the day, live streaming platforms and gaming television programmes were biggest in South Korea and the United States. Today, this phenomenon is known worldwide. Singapore, being a part of this globalized world, is no exception. With the introduction of these platforms to our local gamers, many have taken to it and started their own channels to stream their gameplay. These channels provide entertainment and exposure for gamers, and so the gaming community in Singapore saw a rise in its popularity.

Impact on the Gaming Community

“Fans who watch live streams are very loyal, even more so than YouTubers and traditional media fans,” says a local LoL streamer. “It’s very easy for YouTubers to move people to come and watch their game live since they already like their recorded content. As for traditional media, viewers will watch any of the games they show live. But if the same event is streamed by a favorite personality, the fans will likely choose to watch a personal stream of the event rather than the event itself.” Indeed, before the rise of, local gamers would have their own stream open so they could chat with fans as they watch them play on other platforms such as Garena or Steam. This behavior has all but ceased with most gamers agreeing that the dynamic of live streaming has a more interactive and community-oriented experience for both the fans and the streamer. Viewers can ask questions about a game and have them immediately answered, and being recognized by the streamer for displaying strong loyalty can be very satisfying. Most importantly, live streaming has brought many smaller gaming communities together. Prior to live streaming, it was hard for many niche gaming communities to recruit new members because they could only be found through friends or through online forums. While those methods still exist, smaller communities can now target a specific game on a live streaming platform and give potential recruits a feel of the community and its members in a live environment. This also works in favor of fans of the competitive gaming scene as streamed tournaments give easy access for fans to watch and interact with pro players.

Challenges and Opportunities for Singapore’s Gaming Community

Monetization and Sponsorship The ability to stream games and earn a decent living has always been a hot topic in the gaming community. However, gamers who want to go professional or competitive gaming is difficult to achieve due to the immature industry of esports in our region. Lesser and foreign brands are willing to sponsor due to the small market size, leading to players earning less compared to their counterparts in larger countries. From local interviews, an average competitive gamer earns approximately $500, while those in bigger countries can earn up to 5 digits. This small income is not enough to sustain these players and it would discourage potential competitive gamers to pursue their dreams. The future it holds is a tough and unstable one with a high possibility of burning out. Live streamers are also facing issues in getting partnered with TwitchTV or owned3D, as these programs are usually geared at players from more established gaming communities, making it harder for them to earn from streaming games live. High costs of living in Singapore makes earning a small sum unsustainable, especially those aiming to make gaming a full-time job. This difficult path would lead to a brain drain of talent as these gamers would eventually seek out other employment opportunities. However, with the recent partnership between Singtel and Razer, we can hope for improvements in the future with Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan stating the creation of a unified e-payment system between both companies and further development of esports. This would make a positive impact and provide alternative career opportunities for today’s youth.

Monetization and Sponsorship

Since approximately 2012, gaming has taken many forms in Singapore. The traditional LAN shop culture has been largely replaced by gaming from the home or other locations through the global Internet, with “cybergamers” taking part in a variety of games and platforms. Tin eSports was set up in order to support and develop the local eSports community. There, gamers may get paid to represent an organization, similar to standard professional athletes. In September 2014, Rapture Gaming Network (RGN) was launched with the aim of becoming a one-stop portal for everything related to gaming in Singapore. RGN’s Founder & CEO has also been quoted as saying that he aspires to “unite and professionalize eSports in Singapore.” With the formation of more professional teams and gaming organizations, players now have an opportunity to be paid a steady income or even a full-time wage to play games. The zenith would be in representing Singapore at competitive international game events and bringing pride and glory to the nation. There are, however, challenges to reaching this level. Full-time gamers would expect to sustain a living wage in order to focus on their game skills and quit employment. Local eSports-based organizations face challenges in accessing funding and media exposure to elevate their teams to the next level, in addition to ICM’s general rule that may restrict certain games from being promoted in Singapore. A 2012 article on the state of local gamers highlighted that parents of aspiring gamers were skeptical of a future in gaming as a feasible career path and would prefer their children to focus on academic pursuits. This mentality still exists today and represents a significant barrier to local gamers who aspire to be professionals.

Building a Strong Community

The initial question of why people form communities leads to the consideration of the functions and contributions of gaming communities in shaping the future of the gaming culture. Communities propagate and sustain gaming culture, disseminating knowledge about gaming, and providing mechanisms for collaborative learning and problem solving concerning game play. By providing a context for making friends and creating a strong social identity for the participants, gaming communities have the capacity to scaffold learning and enculturation into the gaming world. In the fiercely competitive gaming environment, strong communities that foster teamwork, leadership, and communication can provide a cutting edge for a team striving to be the best. This is evident in professional gaming teams that have strong and stable community ties, signifying that the team itself is a community. An outstanding example would be the Warcraft III clan Meet Your Makers, a collection of the best players in the world in their respective positions. MYM has dominated the WC3 scene for the past three years, a period roughly as long as the collective time its members have spent in the clan. High levels of commitment and identification with the group result in increased loyalty to the team and its sponsors, a critical factor in the competitive gaming circuit where often the strongest teams disband because of unstable finances.

Enhancing Gaming Skills and Competitiveness

This is effective for Singaporean teams, as compared to solo players, they rely more on unity and team success to motivate individual members. In providing a clear development from casual gaming to professional competition, aspiring gamers will have a goal to work towards and see tangible progression in their skills and careers.

This process can take place in specially developed leagues for teams of all skill levels, with promotion and relegation systems to encourage development and healthy competition between teams of similar skill. Failure or underperformance in these tournaments can act as a wake-up call to teams that will either disband or make roster changes until they are successful.

As highlighted in the interviews, it remains a prevalent mindset that foreign teams are of higher caliber, thus in order to improve themselves, local teams need to be given more opportunities to compete with these teams on a regular basis. This can be seen as a reciprocal process, as to compete against foreign teams, local teams will need to show dedication and improvement in order to be taken seriously.

This clear divide between interest in competitive gaming and the resources to do so provides a unique opportunity for the gaming community in developing a system with clear progression for aspiring gamers right up to professional level. The global nature of eSports and online gaming means these initiatives are not limited to succeeding in local competitions but extend to competing with the best from around the world.

A recent survey conducted by members of the Singaporean gaming community showed that 88% of respondents were interested in competing in high-level competitions, however, only 25% did not feel they had the resources to do so. When asked about resources, 72% of respondents said they were looking to improve themselves as gamers and 56% wanted to establish stable teams.

The sportification of gaming has emphasized the need for gamers to constantly enhance their skills and compete at the highest levels. The recent explosion of eSports has provided many opportunities for competitive gaming, however, the lack of government support has meant these initiatives are often driven by the community and, as such, have limited resources.

The Future of Live Streaming in Singapore

Over the last few years, the landscape for gaming and live streaming in Singapore has changed drastically, and it is projected to continue to evolve at a rapid pace. First and foremost, one of the most vital components for streaming is the connection to the platform in which the content is being streamed on. The Interactive Digital Media Programme Office in Singapore has been tasked to improve the standards of digital entertainment services whereby the users will experience fewer interruptions during gameplay as well as create a higher quality of digital media. This focus has huge implications on gamers and streaming platforms supporting gaming content. With such a focus on the quality of digital media, game streamers and their fans will be able to interact in a smoother and more efficient manner between the streamers and their game. This could further enhance the gaming experience for viewers as fan-to-gamer interactions form a vital part of the gaming community. An improvement in the quality of digital media will see an increase in the use of local content delivery networks, resulting in better quality streamed content. A local gaming community would thus seek to capitalize on technology that improves the way streamed content is delivered to consumers. Secondly, it is important to highlight that VR is the next step for improving gaming and live streaming content. In recent attempts to make VR gaming possible, the potential for VR device compatibility with game streaming platforms to create VR streamed content is still very much visionary. This is a cause for excitement for VR enthusiasts in Singapore as streamed content will be a highly immersive experience. While the pro-con debate of VR gameplay is still ongoing, it is inevitable that VR gaming is going to find its place in the gaming community and game streamers will seek to provide VR content. An ideal gaming community in Singapore will have the means and audience to take part in VR streamed content as VR gaming and streamed content creation evolves to have a connection between similar gaming communities in overseas countries.

Technological Advancements and Innovations

A step deeper into globalized gaming entertainment brings a prospect of international collaboration within gaming communities to serve common online experiences. Currently, Singapore has been hosting more game servers for regional distribution, most recently with the Path of Exile and Guild Wars 2 game servers serving Southeast Asia. This increased regional support has since caused a migration of regional gamers to Singapore, therefore making shared regional server hosting a platform for international interaction and community growth between regional and local gamers. An ambitious development for international community interaction could manifest into unified server events that can emulate the live streaming of global sporting events. An example would be an international League of Legends tournament event with the gaming community spectating matches within the client game itself and the general public viewing games through live streams. Given the successful hosting of the 2014 League of Legends World Championship, it isn’t far-fetched to expect that Singapore could play a role in facilitating such global events in gaming.

While the developments in the online gaming community have given birth to a new entertainment industry in Singapore, it makes sense to consider the future convergence between gaming and movies given their similarities in storytelling and audio-visual delivery. This obvious crossover into film provides the next digital age of entertainment for gamers as technologies such as Yahoo’s Development Kit (YDK) will allow developers to interweave games with online films and television. At the same time, HD game trailers are becoming a standard to hype upcoming game titles and events within the community. It is here that the gaming community will merge into the global entertainment industry as the ability to interact with a visual story becomes a viable alternative to passive movie watching. Live streaming and its remote global reach offer further potential in serving visual interactive entertainment to international audiences and should not exclude the possibility of a future Singapore gaming industry developing localized content for a global market.

Integration with Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual Reality opens up new and exciting opportunities for content creation and viewing. It is seen as a very interactive medium of gaming and viewers have said that they would watch their favorite streamers play VR games as it can be comedic and also strategic, with the player having to change the way they play games due to being in a virtual environment. Some have said that they would even buy a VR headset if their favorite streamers were to try VR gaming, showing that it can implicate sales of VR hardware and prospective games. An approach to bring VR to live streaming and create a higher demand for content, developers of VR games can offer streamers early access to a game in return for exposure. This marketing strategy has been found successful, especially amongst viewers, as “a significant difference is found in the attitudes on exposure as gamers who are currently viewers and have watched live streams before are more enthusiastic about VR live streaming and are more willing to bring attention to a VR game by playing it live.”

The researching team and players have left no stone unturned to keep up the momentum, especially with the upcoming trends and demands linked to the future of streaming as a whole. Over the course of the years, the VR trend has made strides in gaming and has been deemed as the future of the expanding industry. Industries and companies have invested in VR technology and as of March 28th, Arizona Sunshine developers, Vertigo Games, have become the first gamers to implement native mixed reality for the game. With the next big trend being VR, it is reasonable that findings show that “gamers who are more enthusiastic about Virtual Reality are current live stream viewers.” Respondents agree that they can see virtual reality streaming becoming a reality and it is something they would like to try.

Potential for Esports Development

Many successful competitive games such as Dota 2, League of Legends and Counter-Strike have long established tournament circuits with large prize pools, drawing in teams and players from all around the globe to compete. In the current era of technology and internet, it is simply not feasible for a local team to constantly travel and compete internationally if there is no substantial income to sustain itself. The ability to stream and monetize from their competitive gaming efforts provides a much needed revenue stream for these teams, resulting in less reliance on corporate sponsorships and offering an alternative option to jackpotting from winning in-game item bets.

The global eSports industry is expected to grow to an estimated $1.9 billion in revenue by 2018, and this will undoubtedly affect the gaming community in Singapore. Competitive gaming and eSports have had a rocky history in Singapore, with several high profile, highly funded projects failing to establish a foothold in the mainstream culture. However, with the emergence of live streaming platforms, development of successful local eSports teams and the support from the Singaporean government, the landscape of competitive gaming in Singapore appears to be shifting.

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