The Singtel Group has launched the PVP eSports Championship, a multi-title and regional league, together with gaming hardware manufacturing company Razer. This is in a bid to grow its gaming and digital content business across its footprint in Asia Pacific, together with Optus and regional associates Airtel, AIS, Globe and Telkomsel.
The list of strategic partners for the inaugural VP eSports Championship, which will be held in Singapore from 5 to 7 October, include Blizzard, Garena, Mineski Group through MET, Secretlab and Aftershock PC. Through the league, the group will organise e-sports activities and provide content, as well as leverage its combined mobile customer base of over 600 million across the region. It will also capitalise on its telco assets and partnerships to gain a slice of the e-sports industry.
The PVP eSports Championship in Singapore is supported by Singapore Tourism Board, and Singapore Press Holdings is its official media partner. The prize pool for the league is US$300,000.
During the press conference, Arthur Lang (pictured second from left), CEO of Singtel's International Group, said that e-sports is becoming more mainstream, set to be included in the Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta this August as a demonstration sport and also being considered as a potential medal event in the 2024 Olympics in Paris. E-sports represents a new form of entertainment and sports content for the Millennials, which is a group that the telco wants to target.
"With e-sports, we can generate new forms of content for our subscribers. We have content channels such as TV and OTT to distribute the content. This is something we want to continue to engage our customers with," Lang said.
He added that Singtel is also reaching out to the community via mini tournaments, such as the upcoming one at JCube this weekend which will focus on FIFA.
The telco is taking a page out of Indonesia's and Philippines' book, going on the hunt to form a homegrown e-sports team and have them eventually represent Singapore.
Lang said that the e-sports event "is not a one-time thing" and that Singtel wants to build a community around it. It also aims to build brand association between Millennial consumers and Singtel along with its partner telcos, as well as capture their attention through interesting content and network reliability.
"E-sports is all about community building, it's all about partnerships. We believe, with Singtel in Singapore, this will be a great place to create that ecosystem. We do not want to control the entire system, instead we want to bring in partners to build it up," Lang said.
Despite not having the expertise when it comes to gaming or e-sports, Singtel has the digital assets to engage consumers across the group, such as its on-demand streaming service HOOQ, as well its TV platforms. It is also able to leverage on its position as a network provider to offer mobile or gaming broadband plans, as well as prepaid plans across the group. Lang said that for regions outside of the six countries that the group has a presence in, it is looking to work with third parties to distribute gaming content.
Lang declined to reveal the monetary investment in the tournament when asked by Marketing, as well as the estimated revenue that both Singtel and the associates are expecting to obtain from the PVP eSports Championship.
Meanwhile, Hilmar Hahn, associate director of product marketing, Razer, told Marketing it will be supplying the hardware for the tournament as well as prizes worth up to SG$100,000. It also plans to capitalise on its fan base across the region and social media channels to create hype for the new tournament.
The latest initiative comes more than a month after the group inked a deal with Razer in May to foster strategic collaboration in the high-growth areas of e-payments, esports, gaming-related digital media and telecommunication services across Southeast Asia. The group and Razer will as such leverage each other’s strengths and capabilities to engage the region’s consumers and audiences and grow the vibrant e-sports ecosystem.
Both companies plan to jointly organise activities such as regional invitational events and cultivate Southeast Asian esports talents. The two will also explore the development of gaming-related telecommunications and digital media products and services such as broadband plans, mobile services and esports content for customers.
Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO, added that e-sports is a "rising force" in entertainment, eclipsing even movies and music. Meanwhile, Carrie Kwik (pictured third from left), executive director of attractions, entertainment and tourism concept development, said the PVP eSports Championship will offer regional e-sports fans another compelling reason to visit Singapore. It will also boost Singapore's status as an e-sports events hub in the region.
"We also expect it to further augment our range of quality events and reinforce Singapore’s reputation as a leading destination for entertainment," she added.
What will it take for Singapore to become an e-sports hub?
Lang told Marketing that to be successful in the digital world, one needs to collaborate with as many partners as possible in the ecosystem and leverage on one another's strengths and assets. "I think it takes the whole ecosystem - the telcos, distributors, tournament organisers, publishers and game developers. We, as Singtel, also need to cultivate talent to create the ecosystem," he added.
Meanwhile, Paul Chin, managing director, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, Blizzard entertainment said Singapore can adopt a model similar to that of South Korea's e-sports scene. South Korea managed to establish itself as an e-sports powerhouse through government support and the nurturing of homegrown talent. This helped pave the way for the future of e-sports in South Korea.
Also agreeing with Chin is Ronald Robins, CEO and founder of Mineski Group, who added that it is equally important to have parental support in order to get the conversation started about nurturing homegrown talent and turning Singapore into an e-sports hub.