Video gaming in the Philippines

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An internet café in Baliuag, Bulacan with posters of MMORPGs

Video gaming in the Philippines is an emerging industry and pastime that includes the production, sale, import/export, and playing of video games. The Philippine eSports Organization (PeSO) is an eSports entity that is the official Philippine representative to the International eSports Federation (IeSF), which is one of the largest eSports associations in the world. It carries the interests of the Filipino eSports community in the international arena.[1]


An arcade video game in Makati.

NIKO Media Research projected the number of PC Gamers to rise from 21 million in 2012 to 28.72 million in 2014.[2]

Game development industry[edit]

Tong-its game released in November 2003 by Rico Zuñiga

The Philippines is a minor player regarding the game development industry. In 2011, it was reported that the local industry only has a 0.02% market share of the $90 billion global industry. The majority of the game development industry is focused on outsourcing to foreign companies rather than creation of local content.[3] According to the Game Developers Association of the Philippines (GDAP), there are about 4,000 professionals representing about 60 companies involved in the game development industry as of 2013. The Philippines' primary competitors in this field are China, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.[4]

The first Filipino-developed commercial computer game was Anito: Defend a Land Enraged which was released in November 2003.[5] 2 months prior to the release of Anito, in September 2003, a free and open source Solitaire card game named Drac was also released by Rico Zuñiga, which makes Drac the first Filipino-developed computer game and game development framework.[6] Drac was also used to create another card game based on the rules of the popular Filipino game, Tong-its which was released on November 2003.[7][8]

In 2016 the French video game development company Ubisoft announced plans to establish a subsidiary in the country, which opened on March 28, 2016 in Santa Rosa, Laguna in partnership with De La Salle University.[9][10][11]

The University of The Visayas New School (UVNS) offers esports and game development through their Senior High Arts and Design track.[12] UVNS offers subjects like game theory, mechanics, strategy, and game awareness. Students can also pick up game design, branding, and shoutcasting as well as entrepreneurship.[12]

After the return qualification of two Filipino teams for the world DOTA 2 tournament in 2017, esports backers like Sen. Bam Aquino see the potential of the online gaming industry to bring honor to the country while creating jobs and ushering in investments.[13]

In esports[edit]

Due to the popularity of video gaming in the Philippines, various outlets have conducted tournaments from local to international levels. In 2016 the Manila Cup held various gaming competitions with participation by local and international players, featuring games such as Mortal Kombat XL, BlazBlue Chronophantasma and Street Fighter. [14] Big name conventions such as the Asia Pop Comic Convention[15][16] and eSports and Gaming Summit hold various video game tournaments as part of their programs.[17]

The surging popularity of esports in the Philippines has led to various Filipino teams competing in renowned eSports tournaments worldwide,[18] even producing champions over different tournaments.[13]

In 2017, a national eSports league was established which is called as The Nationals.

Esports will be introduced for the first time as a medal event in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in which Philippines will host.[19]

Controversies and issues[edit]

1981 ban on video games[edit]

On November 19, 1981 President Ferdinand Marcos banned video games in the country through a presidential decree, making the Philippines the first nation to ban video games. The decree was a response to complaints from parents and educators who alleged that games such as Space Invaders and Asteroids were detrimental to youth morals, viewing them as a "destructive social enemy"[20] and existing "to the detriment of the public interest".[21][22] Marcos also decreed the ban of pinball machines, slot machines, and other similar gaming devices. Filipinos were given two weeks to either destroy their video games and devices or surrender the materials to the police and army. Violators had to pay a fine amounting to about $600 and face 6 months to 1 year of prison. Playing video games in the country went underground. The ban was effectively lifted following the 1986 People Power Revolution.[23][24][25]

Localized ban on Defense of the Ancients[edit]

While no video games have been banned nationwide since 1986, at least one title, Defense of the Ancients, has been banned at a barangay in Dasmariñas, Cavite following complaints of delinquency and two murder incidents involving youths in the area resulting from brawls related to the game.[26]

Copyright infringement[edit]

Unauthorized distribution of video games is a complex issue in the Philippines. Despite legislation against copyright violation, enforcement and cultural factors remain an obstacle in the country. Bootleg video games, along with warez, contribute to the underground economy of the country where video gaming is a popular form of entertainment among Filipino families. The inability of many Filipino families to afford video game software and hardware at legitimate prices leads them to turn to unlicensed goods. The Optical Media Board in cooperation with the police enforces intellectual rights law in the country.[27]


  1. ^ "What is PeSO? - Esports by". 4 June 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  2. ^ "SEA mobile gamers by age and gender 2016 - Statistic". Statista. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Game on: the present and future of game development in the Philippines". GMA News. 28 December 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  4. ^ "Game development industry booming in PHL, says GDAP". GMA News. 17 January 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  5. ^ Valderrama, Michael (19 September 2014). "The Philippines in video games". Sun Star Bacolod. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Drac - Free SDL Card Game Library". 27 September 2003. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Announcing Stig! version 0.0.8a". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  8. ^ "ricoz/tongits". GitHub. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  9. ^ Wilson, Jason (28 March 2016). "Ubisoft Philippines is the island nation's first major game studio". VentureBeat. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  10. ^ Morris, Chris (28 March 2016). "Ubisoft Doubles Down in Southeast Asia - Fortune". Fortune. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  11. ^ Otero, Jose (28 March 2016). "Ubisoft Opens a New Studio in the Philippines - IGN". IGN. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  12. ^ a b "The Philippines is getting its very own esports school - Esports by". 8 May 2017. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Esports seen to usher in jobs, businesses into Philippines -". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  14. ^ Wong, Tala (13 September 2016). "A Street Fighter in Manila: how eSports is kicking off in the Philippines". the Guardian. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  15. ^ "PeSO to bring the eSports Festival to Asia Pop Comic Con - Esports by". 30 July 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  16. ^ "eSports Festival Games Announced! - Esports by". 5 August 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  17. ^ "5 reasons a gamer shouldn't miss ESGS 2016". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Pinoy gamers oust Team OG, guaranteed P23.5M in DOTA 2 tiff".
  19. ^ Gonzales, Gelo. "Esports now a medal event at 2019 SEA Games". Rappler.
  20. ^ "President Marcos bans video game machines". Logansport Pharos-Tribune. 19 November 1981. p. 17. Retrieved February 26, 2015 – via open access
  21. ^ "Presidential Decree No. 519 - Supra Source". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  22. ^ Dillon, Roberto (12 April 2011). The Golden Age of Video Games: The Birth of a Multibillion Dollar Industry. Page xvii: CRC Press. ISBN 1439873232.
  23. ^ "Marcos Bans Video Games". The New York Times. 19 November 1981. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  24. ^ "Philippine President Bans Videogames". History Channel. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  25. ^ Dillon, Roberto (2011). "Timeline". The Golden Age of Video Games: The Birth of a Multibillion Dollar Industry (illustrated ed.). Boca Raton, FL: A K Peters/CRC Press. p. xvii. ISBN 1439873232. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  26. ^ "DOTA banned in internet shops in Cavite village". GMA News. 21 January 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  27. ^ Vitale, Jennifer Kim (January 2010). "Video Game Piracy in the Philippines: A Narrowly Tailored Analysis of the Video Game Industry & Subculture". Pace International Law Review. 22 (1 Winter 2010). Retrieved 15 November 2015.