Community building is key to making any esports event a success, said Jason Ng, vice-president of Garena in a conversation with Marketing Interactive.
The esports community right now boasts one of the most engaged group of individuals. According to a Newzoo report, the global esports audience will grow by 15% to 453.8 million worldwide in 2019. Of this, 201.2 million are esports enthusiasts (+16.3% year-on-year) and 252.6 million are occasional viewers (+14.0% year-on-year).
As such, knowing your place and contributing back to the ecosystem is vital. Take Arena of Valor for example, the game distributor had held grassroots community events in close to 50 cities in Indonesia alone to build up to national and international-level tournaments. This saw Garena’s publicity efforts paying off, with the game being selected to be part of the first esports medal event in the biennial SEA Games this November. Commenting on the need to build up locally before expanding, Ng added,
Holding grassroots and regional tournaments in the lead up to competitions of a global scale helps to build anticipation and excite fans.
On the marketing front, Ng said it is critical for event organisers to target the right audience and engage the relevant shoutcasters. Fundamentally, understanding of the esports ecosystem and getting production requirements, such as format and networks, right are also important.
Today, Garena core strength lies in mobile games and expansion into emerging markets through landmark regional esports events. In April, it concluded Garena World tournament in Bangkok, which is said by the company to be the largest esports event ever in Southeast Asia, attracting 270,000 attendees, players from over 10 countries and more than 30 partners. The event saw its inaugural “Free Fire World Cup” attracting the largest simultaneous online crowd for an esports event on YouTube, according to Esports Charts. With live streams in eight different languages, the tournament drew 1 million concurrent views at its peak.
In comparison, the last peak for an esports event was during League of Legends’ 2017 World Championships, which saw approximately 940,000 peak concurrent views on YouTube.
Contributing to the industry at large, Garena seeks to building even stronger gaming communities, particularly for Arena of Valor, to help make SEA Games a success and spread esports in the region. It is also playing an active role in industry-wide initiatives and discussions. In June, it will be holding the Arena of Valor International Championships in the city of Da Nang. Held last year in the United States, the tournament in Vietnam will be a first for Southeast Asia.
At Garena World, the company also hosted “Garena Get & Give”, a dedicated zone where it collaborated with local universities to allow attendees to hear from some of the “brightest and most successful people” in the esports industry, from professionals and gaming academics, to professional players and executives from Garena and Sea Group. Founded in 2009, the Singapore-based company is known for its other popular competitive esports titles, including Free Fire and League of Legends.