Brand in action: How Garena gets its game on with Southeast Asia’s brands

The cell gaming scene in Southeast Asia is escalating exponentially, thanks in big part to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Singapore-headquartered recreation publisher Garena has a front row seat in one of the most active gaming areas in the environment. Garena’s vice president, strategic partnerships Jason Ng speaks to WARC about the great importance of localising engagement endeavours with avid gamers and how model partnerships with video games are evolving.

This write-up is portion of a Spotlight collection on how brands can enjoy improved with Southeast Asia’s mobile avid gamers. Examine extra

Critical insights
Garena’s initiatives to engage new and current customers with contemporary, creative and remarkably localised written content have contributed to Absolutely free Hearth being the most downloaded cellular activity globally in 2020. &#13
The romance among brands and online games is getting to be ever more symbiotic as advertisers recognise how effective online games can be as a system for offering distinctive publicity. &#13
Southeast Asia is a extremely numerous and electronic-1st location, presenting models enormous likely to tap on customers positioned in both equally the metropolitan areas and suburbs. &#13

WARC: What have been some key shifts noticed, with regards to SEA’s gamer communities and their behaviours/tastes?

We have surely found an enhanced desire and want for on the web amusement as many of our consumers proceed to remain at home and seem for new means to socialise and engage in. It has also come to be ever more crystal clear that games have progressed to provide as social platforms for players to satisfy and shell out time as they engage in remotely.

For example, we have introduced far more social and neighborhood features into No cost Hearth, which is significantly a put the place our consumers hold out with their buddies and collectively love not just actively playing the recreation but also other recreation-associated content – from audio to esports and livestreams, with Cost-free Fire-linked content material recorded over 72 billion check out counts across YouTube globally in 2020.

In 2020, we released a aspect known as Education Grounds which has been hugely well-liked among our people. This is an place within just the recreation the place players can meet up with and cling out socially. In Q3 2020, we observed that about one in 4 of our gamers spends time there every working day. This and other social options continue to strengthen the community result and stickiness of the sport.

We also centered on creating extra esports content material which keeps our communities engaged and entertained although staying indoors. These consist of organising online-only esports tournaments – both of those specialist and casual kinds – to provide competitive action to equally players and viewers from the convenience of their households.

Despite tough conditions, we were ready to organise the Cost-free Hearth Continental Sequence toward the close of 2020. It was a thoroughly digital series and comprised a few regional tournaments held at the same time: the Asia Collection, the Americas Collection and the Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Series. Our intention was to present gamers and viewers from close to the planet a flavor of aggressive esports motion from their households. We had been really encouraged by the response to the tournament. At its peak, it obtained much more than 2.5 million concurrent viewers for the Asia Series, 1.7 million for the Americas Series and close to 300,000 for the EMEA Series.

Jason Ng, VP strategic partnerships, Garena

WARC: Can you share how Garena works and collaborates with different makes?

We feel there are many prospects for powerful and meaningful collaborations, and we consider extremely deeply about what sort of collaboration is most suited for each individual opportunity husband or wife. There is generally that enjoyable probable to do something distinctive and make a major effects with these activations. We evaluate just about every collaboration on a situation-by-case basis mainly because it is important that we comprehend the small business needs and desired outcomes of brand names to be in a position to efficiently engage gamers.

The past pair of decades have been notably enjoyable for us as we partnered with various global IP holders to create highly unforgettable ordeals for our users. Our endeavours to interact new and present customers with refreshing, innovative and remarkably localised information have contributed to Free Fire currently being the most downloaded cell video game globally in 2020.

In Might 2021, No cost Hearth partnered with Components 1 workforce McLaren Racing. The crossover featured a thematic takeover in Cost-free Fire with an in-video game McLaren integration, full with their signature automobiles in the Cost-free Hearth universe. In July, we also jointly organised a supporter event in New York Town, exactly where the Absolutely free Fire local community could love a working day of carnival online games, gameplay, food items, as properly as the prospect to customise their very own Absolutely free Fireplace skateboards to match the in-sport surfboards showcased inside the video game.

In July 2020, we declared a partnership with Netflix for a specific in-game crossover with its international hit exhibit Cash Heist. For this, we labored with Netflix to make a Dollars Heist-themed in-video game takeover. This permitted end users to enjoy a new sport manner and the opportunity to invest in virtual skins modelled soon after the legendary outfits in the Tv set collection.

Our partnership with Funds Heist was injected with a area flavour in various marketplaces throughout the globe, in line with No cost Fire’s concentration on continually developing regionally related and fascinating material for its communities. The highlights contain:


Flying a “Plan Bermuda” blimp throughout Mexico City to delight fans in Mexico, reminding them of the legendary scene in the collection exactly where the Professor used a blimp to drop millions of euros higher than central Madrid.



We made an unique No cost Fireplace x Income Heist stay motion limited movie in Indonesia with neighborhood motion star Joe Taslim. In just 48 hours soon after the movie went stay, it observed around thee million views.




Community graffiti artists in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina took to the streets and plastered specifically-made Cost-free Fireplace x Dollars Heist artwork in key points of interest.




In November 2020, we partnered with the Bangkok Metro Network (BMN) to remodel Chatuchak Park MRT station into a “Free Hearth Earth.” This was the very first-ever practice station takeover campaign in Thailand. The campaign was supported by a variety of out-of-residence media improvements this sort of as exhibits of Cost-free Fire’s iconic crimson truck, air fall boxes and even gamers parachuting from the sky. The workforce also added a No cost Fireplace spin to the planned takeover. This included customising the station announcement voiceover to have a distinct No cost Fireplace truly feel, digital screens, dynamic gentle packing containers and placement of QR codes in the station for gamers to come across and earn unique in-video game things.




WARC: What is your choose on how game publishers in Southeast Asia have tailored to growing advertiser fascination and involvement as an supplemental profits/advertising stream?

Just one trend I feel we will see far more of is that of other media sorts acquiring much more tie-ups with online games. We have already noticed well-liked new music icons bringing their personalities and songs to game titles — DJ Alok in Free of charge Fireplace is just one these types of case in point – and characters from comic guides or flicks have also manufactured appearances in online games.

We have observed the connection in between brands and video games turning into increasingly symbiotic. More than the previous few a long time, advertisers have begun to recognise how successful video games can be as a platform for offering exposure that is not only very big and escalating but, more importantly, is unique in staying capable to give interactive engagement for their brand names around an extended period of time. At the exact same time, sport developers and publishers have also come to be savvier and additional sophisticated in customising the ordeals in their games to cater to brand names, allowing equally parties to deepen engagement with players and strengthen their respective brand affinities.

For Cost-free Fire, one of the vital factors behind our sustained good results is our dedication to retain our recreation fresh and engaging. The prosperous activations we have been in a position to pull off are testomony to how gamers and brands all-around the globe are more and more recognising Garena’s popularity for constantly maximizing the Free Hearth experience with impressive written content, partnerships and esports pursuits.

In the initial quarter of this yr, we rolled out partnerships with common Japanese manga titles like A person Punch Guy and Attack on Titan to build memorable crossover gatherings and written content activities for our consumers. We also been given extremely constructive responses when we introduced in-game characters dependent on common area famous people. In MENA, we collaborated with renowned Egyptian singer and actor Mohamed Ramadan, who had a strike tune very last yr that created over 225 million views on YouTube, to develop in-activity figures.

WARC: How have this kind of discussions with makes changed in the past 8-10 months?

As game titles proceed to garner ever greater audiences throughout broader spectrums of society, we can count on collaborations with makes and game titles to improve. We have observed both endemic and non-endemic brand names more and more wanting to examine alternatives with us.

For Arena of Valor (AOV) in Thailand, for occasion, we work with endemic brand names like TrueMove, where they are our formal telco husband or wife for esports tournaments and, by way of our partnership, have enabled buyers to acquire exclusive cosmetic products for in-sport figures when chosen SIM cards are purchased.

In addition, we now operate with brand names that have, in the earlier, experienced less engagement with the gaming business. KFC has been a spouse of AOV Thailand for a few yrs now and our most the latest collaboration with them noticed Colonel Sanders earning an physical appearance in AOV. Gamers stand a likelihood to gain KFC’s pretty personal Colonel Sanders as an in-game pores and skin when they obtain a combo food.

KFC’s Colonel Sanders in Arena of Valor

WARC: How diverse really should advertising endeavours be when attempting to interact mobile avid gamers in contrast to other channels, be it TikTok, Television or other digital platforms?

Every system has its personal distinctive “language”. For instance, inquiring people to upload quick films of themselves is really all-natural by means of TikTok, while creating an in-activity activation that is indigenous to the video game would be most natural and much more very likely to enchantment to avid gamers. Comprehending and crafting techniques primarily based on that “language” is essential.

WARC: When it will come to brand name involvement in mobile online games, which recent marketing campaign has been your favourite and why?

The most memorable campaign would have to be the one particular the place we declared international soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo as Absolutely free Fire’s world-wide ambassador.

The group comprehensively loved producing and delivering the Chrono campaign for our gamers last calendar year. Our target has generally been to give new and participating ordeals for No cost Hearth gamers all more than the world and one particular way to do this is to align with their pursuits beyond gaming, which include sporting activities.

Our activation with Cristiano Ronaldo has been an unbelievable results. It was a circumstance of “the world’s variety 1 sport fulfills the world’s selection a person footballer” and we ended up equipped to deepen the engagement with our neighborhood of gamers, lots of of whom are avid football enthusiasts as well. We also share quite a few of the very same values, which include the continual pursuit of excellence.

We are usually on the lookout to thrust the envelope in terms of creative imagination and execution. By months of challenging perform, we grew to become the very first battle royale mobile activity to integrate a footballer as a playable character. It was also a large help that we experienced previously worked with Ronaldo’s staff and ended up properly-placed to pitch the idea, making certain a inventive collaboration that benefited all functions.

As the world’s most well-known athlete and most adopted human being on Instagram, his substantial on line following has also proved a must have in amplifying the campaign by using a cross-channel advertising technique and bringing new gamers to the game.

The response to the partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo has been unbelievable and we hope to carry on providing experiences like this to our gamers.

WARC: What would be your information to models that want to achieve SEA audiences via cellular online games? What assistance would you present?

It is probably a cliché but I think it cannot be overstated that Southeast Asia is a really various and electronic-initially area. This presents manufacturers immense probable to tap on, offered they are equipped to attain buyers regardless of no matter whether they are located in the towns or suburbs. Buyers in the location are also among the most engaged in the planet, expending extra time on mobile than any where else.

The challenge then is to build information that resonates with several area audiences, although leveraging prevalent themes that customers throughout a variety of cultures can all relate to.

A person of the pillars of Absolutely free Fire’s sustained accomplishment is our capacity to persistently build fascinating written content that engages our global person local community. Our nearby teams are centered on creating hugely localised gaming content material which appeals to our gamers’ preferences and preferences.

In Indonesia, we have partnered with a person of the country’s most preferred actors and star of Mortal Kombat, Joe Taslim, to develop a playable in-game character referred to as Jota modelled after Joe himself. To promote this, we also worked with one of Indonesia’s most well-known administrators to create a limited film with Joe showcasing his famous martial arts capabilities.


So far in Indonesia, above half of our consumers have performed as Jota. This initiative highlights how these factors of regional flavour definitely resonate with our buyers.

In Vietnam, we collaborated with the preferred “V-Pop prince” Son Tung M-TP, to launch Skyler, Cost-free Fire’s initially Vietnamese character. The inspiration for Skyler arrived from Son himself while he was participating in No cost Fireplace and the collaboration is an extension of how we can improved interact both his enthusiasts and Totally free Fireplace gamers.

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