#LEAwards 2020 highlight: Leveling up with MyRepublic's gaming venture

As one of the first internet service provider in Singapore to launch a gaming optimised broadband network (MyRepublic GAMER), gaming has always been part of MyRepublic’s DNA. MyRepublic established itself as a pioneer in Singapore’s gaming scene through a series of gaming events, influencer sponsorships, and internet sponsorships at local gaming events and tournaments.

In fact, its launch of gaming tournament GAMER Arena got the telco being shortlisted as a finalist in the Best engagement strategy - specific audience in MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Loyalty & Engagement Awards 2020. Here's a deeper look at what went behind the scenes.   

Challenge

With Singapore’s esports scene growing exponentially, incumbent telcos also saw the immense potential in the space and started jumping on the bandwagon to tap into this demographic by actively recruiting and supporting gamers in local tournaments and rolling out attractive, targeted product bundles and initiatives to reach gamers in Singapore. For instance, Singtel collaborated with Razer to launch the first 5G cloud gaming trial, and launched PVP Esports to tap into the corporate (working adults), tertiary (university), and polytechnic communities.

In recent years, there has also been an emergence of mainstream brands entering the gaming market through partnerships and tie-ups, leading to an oversaturation of the esports industry.

Recognising the preconception that esports is dominated by professional gamers, and the saturation of the gaming market in Singapore, MyRepublic rolled out GAMER Arena to:

  • Re-establish MyRepublic’s position as a pioneer and leader in the esports scene
  • Create top-of-mind awareness and position MyRepublic GAMER as the choice broadband network for gaming
  • Build brand affinity and relevance with gamers of all skill levels, strengthening brand loyalty to MyRepublic
  • Support the gamer community in a sustainable and accessible manner through a series of ongoing online tournaments on the premise that esports should be for all

In essence, GAMER Arena aimed to bring MyRepublic GAMER above and beyond, and showcase that gaming tournaments should be in the spirit of fun and for everyone, not limited to just those who compete professionally.

Strategy

MyRepublic wanted to position itself as the enabler to bridge the gap between grassroot/rookie gamers and professional esports players by creating a platform and community to provide aspiring gamers with opportunities to test their skills, and meet like-minded individuals.

This led to the launch of GAMER Arena, the first esports tournament of its kind in Singapore. It is a “rookie league” that provides a platform and community for all levels of gamers and wider gaming communities to meet, and showcase their skills to professional teams or brands who might be recruiting.

In line with MyRepublic’s commitment to growing and supporting the local gaming and esports community, GAMER Arena was conceived as an extension of MyRepublic GAMER, the first gamer-specific broadband plan launched in 2012, with a dedicated network for gaming in Singapore.

Through GAMER Arena, MyRepublic leveraged its expertise to provide hands-on experiences to gamers with MyRepublic’s services through:

  1. Gameplay, tournaments and streaming of esports content
  2. Grooming players and gaming talents in the community to participate in GAMER Arena
  3. Community engagement campaigns to engage gamers and grow the GAMER Arena community

GAMER Arena was first announced at GameStart Asia, Southeast Asia’s premier game convention in November 2018, with the first season kicking off in January 2019. GAMER Arena is divided into four seasons, with each season lasting three months, and players can participate in as many tournaments as they choose. Being primarily driven by online tournaments, GAMER Arena was deemed a cost-effective platform for engagement of the gaming community on a limited budget, given MyRepublic’s background as an internet service provider and leading technology company.

To further set itself apart in the saturated gaming scene, GAMER Arena:

  • Was designed as a series of ongoing, regular tournaments instead of a one-off tournament to sustain interest and build a robust gaming community over time

  • Encouraged participants’ continued participation in tournaments each week through a unique tournament structure, and a refreshed prize pool on a weekly basis. Gamers’ participation in weekly tournaments was independent of performance in previous weeks, and all gamers stood an equal chance of winning prizes in each round.

  • Adopted a multi-platform and multi-title approach to address the highly-fragmented gaming landscape, effectively reaching gamers playing across multiple gaming platforms (PC, console, mobile, cross-platform) and multiple gaming genres (first-person shooter, fighting, multiplayer online battle arena, battle royale).

This was unlike traditional gaming tournaments, which typically focus on specific platforms or genres. MyRepublic also adapted and responded quickly to the rapidly evolving gaming landscape by tapping into gaming trends, to be the first mover in capitalising on the hype of new game launches as part of GAMER Arena.

This saw GAMER Arena emerging as one of the pioneers to launch Dota Auto Chess esports tournament when the game started to gain popularity, as well as launching the first Call of Duty: Mobile esports tournament in Singapore in collaboration with Garena.

Execution

With a year-long campaign, GAMER Arena set out with these objectives:

  • Expand the scale of GAMER Arena tournaments and total prize pool
  • Grow the GAMER Arena database in participant numbers and viewership numbers of GAMER Arena tournaments
  • Increase GAMER lead generation and sponsorship amount

To strengthen the GAMER Arena brand identity, and further differentiate MyRepublic and GAMER Arena, MyRepublic introduced MEG, the official mascot for GAMER Arena. MEG embodies the power of passion, the excitement of purpose, and the strength of the gaming community, bringing together the best parts of gaming and what GAMER Arena stands for. MEG was jointly conceptualised and designed by local artist Rachta, and local designers Neo Tokyo Project. A robust, comprehensive media strategy was also developed to effectively tell the GAMER Arena story.

MyRepublic identified four key media touchpoints to reach the target audience: earned media, shared media, owned media and paid media.

The four channels saw a mix of public relations efforts, brand partnerships, influencer engagements, social media and word-of-mouth, sponsored content and advertising. Through an in-depth media outreach strategy, MyRepublic was able to effectively reach diverse audiences with engaging content.

To raise awareness of GAMER Arena, MyRepublic first established a presence through participation in large scale gaming events including Singapore Comic Con (SGCC), previously known as Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC) and GameStart Asia. It was through these events that MyRepublic effectively reached the gamer community to drive interest in the launch of the tournament series.

In November 2019, GAMER Arena introduced a new partnership with PlayStation for its first ever regional tournament series in 2020. Open to players in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, with an attractive prize pool of US$25,000, the partnership with PlayStation further increased awareness and interest in GAMER Arena across the region, beyond Singapore.

To further amplify its reach to the gamer audience across multiple platforms and genres, GAMER Arena leveraged its robust partner network, including:

  • Hardware gaming partner ASUS to target PC gamers
  • Hardware and software gaming partner PlayStation to target PS4 gamers
  • Game publishers such as Garena, Bandai Namco, EA, Activision
  • Gaming communities, through promotions on social media pages, to target fans of specific game titles

Once the gamer community was made aware of GAMER Arena, there was a need to continue communicating with the audience to keep them engaged and excited.

One of the key platforms of communication to reach the audience is the dedicated GAMER Arena landing page. In addition to providing gamers with timely updates on upcoming tournaments, the website also serves to direct gamers to livestreams of the weekly finals and tournaments on Twitch, YouTube and Facebook, as well as weekly highlights and season highlights for the ongoing tournaments, which were also distributed on Facebook.

Highlights were edited from participants’ live streams, and repurposed on social media platforms for content amplification out of the tournament. To further boost communication efforts, MyRepublic leveraged key gamer engagement platforms such as Discord and Twitch to reach its target audience.

Tapping into these dedicated communications and community-focused channels enabled MyRepublic to successfully raise awareness of the tournaments among the gamer community and its followers, which is a growing but relatively niche and specific audience segment. To widen its reach in the community to a broader audience, MyRepublic also tapped into social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), e-newsletters, and its partners’ media platforms (ASUS Republic of Gamers, PlayStation) to drive excitement around GAMER Arena.

In addition to organic reach, MyRepublic engaged three of its long-term sponsored gamer influencers to reshare weekly updates on GAMER Arena, and mention the tournaments on their streams, leveraging the audiences of these influencers to maximise brand exposure.

MyRepublic also put advertising dollars behind boosting their posts on social channels in order to increase their post reach, both to their existing fans and non-fans. With GAMER Arena going regional, there was also a need for communications to effectively reach gamers across the region outside of Singapore. All GAMER Arena related content was localised to target gamers residing in countries such as Indonesia and Thailand where English was not as widely used. In these markets, regional gaming influencers were also engaged to ensure content relevance and appeal.

Results

GAMER Arena set out with a target to achieve the following across a period of 12 months:

  • Expand the scale of GAMER Arena tournaments and total prize pool
  • Grow the GAMER Arena database in participant numbers and viewership numbers of GAMER Arena tournaments
  • Increase GAMER lead generation and sponsorship amount

Between July 2019 to May 2020, the programme saw a two-fold increase in the number of tournaments, from 25 tournaments in 10 months to 50 tournaments in May 2020, across 10 game titles playable on different platforms. This includes some of the most trending games such as Call of Duty, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, DOTA 2, League of Legends and more.

This saw MyRepublic giving out a total of SG$82,000 in cash and prizes, which is a 273% increase from SG$22,000 in 2019, attracting participation from rookie competitors to semi-professional players alike. From July 2019 to May 2020, the number of participants in GAMER Arena saw a 176.92% spike, from 1,300 to 3,900.

For the first time in GAMER Arena’s history, 2020 Season 1 also featured video content, livestreams and live commentary, amassing over 1.9 million views across platforms such as Twitch, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

As of May 2020, GAMER Arena received SG$60,000 in sponsorship support from various partners such as ASUS Republic of Gamers, PlayStation, Secretlab, Sony Electronics Singapore, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Garena and Armaggeddon. This is a 1,900% increase from SG$3,000 in 2019.