Mobile firms eye e-sports market
Thai business in 2018 worth B22bn
Mobile operators are tapping into the revenue-generating power of e-sports, seeking to cash in on the US$667 million (21.1 billion baht) market.
According to a study by gaming market analyst Newzoo, Thailand had the 19th largest gaming market in 2018 out of 100 countries surveyed, second in Asean.
China, the US and Japan were the top three markets globally.
Third-ranked mobile operator Total Access Communication (DTAC) is entering the local mobile gaming market for the first time by spending 100 million baht in 2019 on marketing, said Sukannee Lertsuwibul, head of prepaid marketing and products.
The company foresees interest from users who play games, around 30% of its total 21 million customers.
DTAC has found mobile gamers on prepaid plans spent twice as much on data compared to normal users.
Ms Sukannee said there are two groups of gamers -- those under 24 years old and those aged 25-39.
Half of the gamers in Thailand live in Bangkok and its suburbs, she said.
To capitalise on this market, DTAC will collaborate with Garena (Thailand), a leading online gaming and social platform, to host an e-sports competition, the Free Fire Thailand Championship 2019.
Free Fire has over 20 million users in Thailand, making it one of the most popular games in the country.
Gamers can buy top-up packages for Free Fire for 199 baht, offering seven days of internet along with special game items.
Surut Vanichpun, director of Sea Thailand, the parent firm of Garena Thailand, said the advent of more powerful smartphones helps to expand the mass market appeal of games and increase the size of the mobile gaming market.
E-sports has increased in popularity as gamers flock to compete for huge cash payoffs. Brands, like mobile operators, can reach specific customers by marketing through e-sports.
Free Fire is the first game Garena developed by itself and has 350 million registered players globally. Garena plans to organise Free Fire Proleague 2019 presented by DTAC, in the middle of this year.
Previously, second-ranked mobile operator True Move H launched its 4G+ e-sports SIM to play RoV-Proleague Season 1, as well as True Super Fiber, a data package for serious gamers.
Pratthana Leelapanang, chief consumer business officer of mobile leader Advanced Info Service, said the company is pushing the e-sports industry from upstream to downstream as a way to attract more millennial customers.
The e-sports business in Thailand in 2018 was valued 22 billion baht, while there are about 27.5 million gamers in every platform.