Can Singtel Make Waves In Southeast Asia’s Gaming Market?

Singtel Group of Singapore, one of the top four telecommunications operators operating in the country, has embraced digital transformation by deploying various technology products and subsidiaries. This includes the Dash e-wallet platform, the digital advertising subsidiary Amobee, and the Data Spark mobility intelligence platform.

The company has claimed to have around 700 million customers in Singapore and beyond through its subsidiaries, including its wholly-owned subsidiary Optus in Australia, Telkomsel in Indonesia, Advanced Info Service (AIS) in Thailand, Airtel in India, etc.

Leveraging its network to strengthen its digital offerings, games and electronic sports are currently two of Singtel International’s major axes.

Spotlight on Storms

In March last year, Singtel, Thai Telco AIS and SK Telecom of South Korea announced their US $ 30 million investment in a new joint venture, a games company called Storms.

David Yeo, CEO of Storms
David Yin, CEO of Storms / Image credit: Storms

Shareholders appointed David Yin, a former top executive of Google Play Apps and Games in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, to lead the new startup.

“We are working closely with our three investors and we are focusing on four lines of business which are the main gaps in the gaming industry today,” Yin said. KrASIA.

The startup’s first line of business is the Storms mobile app, which focuses on gaming news, game rewards and community building, and will launch around mid-2021.

Second, Storms serves as a publisher, working with independent game studios in Southeast Asia and India.

“We also have a game consulting business where we work with major game studios around the world who want to grow their business by operating Singtel’s telecommunications network,” Yin said.

Third, the company is developing an html5 gaming platform, he revealed.

Storms’ first mobile game titled “Umbra: Amulet of Light” is launched on November 25, 2020 in partnership with Google and Indonesian network provider Telkomsel. Umbra is a three-dimensional puzzle game developed by indie games studio Niji Games, which participated in Google’s Indie Games Accelerator program.

Storms’ publishing unit focuses on casual and hyper-casual mobile games, which its CEO says have lesser competition in Southeast Asia compared to mid-range games from big publishers such as Garena and Tencent. Storms also has a few strategic advantages that allow them to turn a profit.

We have agreements in place with Singtel associates where we have the ability to acquire users on the Singtel network at reduced prices, which reduces the cost per installation.

We have a large network of game studios that allow us to work together and easily release the next game. It certainly comes down to a long term value versus cost per install equation, and we are well positioned on the first one.

– David Yin, CEO of Storms

Singtel’s gaming ambition

Storms is not Singtel’s first entry into the gaming industry, as the company has already launched an esports platform and PVP Esports Championship to attract young users.

Additionally, in October 2018, Singtel signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with its subsidiaries Optus, Airtel, AIS, Globe and Telkomsel to cooperate and jointly leverage their strengths to develop the gaming and esports ecosystem in Southeast Asia, Australia and India. .

Recently, the company also tested its 5G network for cloud gaming in collaboration with cloud gaming provider Ubitus. The trial achieved 85% lower latency than 4G, significantly reducing lag and dramatically improving the gaming experience.

The company will leverage its 5G cloud gaming network to dramatically improve the mobile and video gaming experience, as well as drive the development of virtual reality and augmented reality.

Arthur Lang, CEO of Singtel
Arthur Lang, CEO of Singtel International / Image credit: Singtel.

When I joined Singtel about three years ago, one of my main challenges was to bring together our 700 million customers. Beyond our main telecommunications activity, the development of digital activity was essential.

We realized that the game was increasing dramatically and we called on our regional associates to start our esports business. With Storms, we will continue to grow in the region and bring our customers even closer together.

– Arthur Lang, CEO of Singtel International

According to Lang, around 65 percent of Singtel Group’s customers are currently between the ages of 18 and 35, the group that consumes the most digital content.

“We asked all telecom companies to have a chat and we realized that games and esports are the best way to create engagement with customers,” Lang continued.

Singtel has some strengths to its credit for playing effectively in the gaming space. The first is its large customer base with growing average data usage.

“The amount of data consumed by our customers is enormous. Take the example of the Thai telecommunications company AIS, a customer consumes 17 gigabytes per month. In Singapore, the trend is on the rise, ”he said.

Second, Singtel’s “high-quality connectivity” that was proven during the COVID-19 pandemic, where most people worked and studied from home, according to Lang.

“There was a lot of pressure and stress on the network [during pandemic and lockdowns], but we were able to deliver good capacity and speeds to customers, which counts for a game. ”

The third element concerns Singtel’s digital payment services. In Singapore, the company manages the Singtel Dash mobile wallet, while Singtel is also affiliated with the LinkAja electronic wallet in Indonesia.

“We’re a major player in direct carrier billing, which allows people to use their phone plans to pay for a game or video they buy. This is very powerful because the penetration rate of credit cards in many ASEAN countries is less than 10%, while the penetration rate of mobile internet continues to increase. “

Finally, Lang said that Singtel has a good ecosystem of partners in the gaming world, whether they are developers, content providers, or even cloud game operators.

“While we don’t produce games ourselves, we can leverage the knowledge of our customers, which is useful for game developers, and connect them with a publisher like Storms who can work with them to deliver. the next best games, ”Lang continued.

Learn from the challenges of the past

The game offers telecommunications operators the opportunity to diversify their activities.

According to a report titled “How Telecom Operators Can Win with Gaming” from Strategy &, a transition to gaming can increase carrier data usage and generate more information about their customers.

This means that games can help telecom operators improve their behavioral analytics to create a more targeted customer experience and increase their monetization models.

According to the report, there are at least five ways to tap into the gaming market: providing connectivity through infrastructure, partnering with game publishers for exclusive game releases or in-game advertisements, collaborating with game developers to create relevant game content, develop and launch own games, and lastly invest in esports by organizing events or building an esports team.

Thinking about these strategies, Singtel seems to have ticked all the boxes via Storms, PVP Esports, and its 5G cloud gaming network.

However, there is no guarantee yet that Singtel gaming services will be successful.

Although the telecom company is known as a fairly progressive player, it has also seen a fair share of setbacks in its digital business. For example, the downfall of its supported streaming video platform Hooq last year, after filing for liquidation in March 2020, due to its inability to grow enough to provide sustainable returns, according to Reuters.

“It’s just that we’ve been faced with a pretty big challenge for Hooq, especially in a space where dominant players are willing to spend huge amounts of capital on acquiring content. But at the end of the day, we’ve learned to navigate a complex industry with stiff competition, ”Lang said.

He added that Singtel and other shareholders have hired “the best people” to make Storms successful in the gaming market, explaining that around 90% of Storms staff come from global game companies like Google, Ubisoft, Tencent and others.

Singtel will be more cautious about its digital businesses like games, however, Lang said.

The mentality of being digital for Singtel is to always realize that we have to build the ecosystem. We cannot be everything for everyone; we have to be very clear about our strength and use it very well.

So in games I talked about how we can use our telecom infrastructure. But in areas where we are not strong, let’s face it and call on better strategic partners to strengthen our mutual capacities.

– Arthur Lang, CEO of Singtel International

This article was first seen on KrAsia and is reprinted on Vulcan Post with permission.

Featured Image Credit: Singtel

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