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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Malaysia’s FIGHT Esports teams up with TikTok to bring live gaming events to platform for SEA users

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Global esports organizer Forest Interactive Gaming Habitat Team (FIGHT) and video-sharing app TikTok have partnered to launch TikTok Gaming Ground PH (TikTok GGPH), an esports dedicated account, within the platform. This marks the start of a year-long partnership between TikTok Southeast Asia and FIGHT Esports, which is kicking off with TikTok Philippines.

Through TikTok Gaming Ground PH, the community of Filipino gamers on TikTok can expect a line of live gaming events and tournaments hosted by the official TikTok GGPH account, as well as even more gaming content, shared and compiled by the TikTok PH Gaming Community.

Gaming Operations Manager of TikTok PH, John Castro, commented that the app continues to pursue opportunities to inspire creativity and bring joy to all Filipinos.

“With gaming actively becoming a positive source for community building and enjoyment, we are happy to be doing our part in providing the growing gaming community with a platform for education, positive connections, and interaction,” said Castro.

To inaugurate their partnership, TikTok Philippines and FIGHT Esports are jointly hosting the first-ever #TikTokGGPH Creator Cup Tournament, which will be set within Valorant, a popular first-person shooter game developed by Riot Games. The Creator Cup Tournament will take place on 27- 28 February from 3 pm to 9 pm PST, to be live-streamed on TikTok via @tiktokggphofficial. To raise the stakes, TikTok Philippines is offering a $1,000 prize pool to be awarded to the champion, 1st runner up, and 2nd runner up of the tournament.

FIGHT is the esports arm of mobile platform Forest Interactives, which focuses on tournaments, showcases, and seminars that will help the gaming community. It has already hosted over 80 tournaments in seven countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Taiwan.

FIGHT’s Project Manager Chantal-Denise Ortega said that TikTok is fast becoming a place where people create, share, and enjoy a new type of experience. It really makes a lot of sense for them to leverage the digital entertainment platform to reach the gaming community and give them the opportunity to connect and share their passion with fellow gamers around the world.

“This will create a unique and innovative esports experience where they can follow and engage with their favorite gaming content creators, tune in to esports tournament live streams, as well as celebrate esports in ways that have never been done before,” Ortega added.

The TikTok app is also holding a video campaign for the official #TikTokGGPH launch, starting from 12 to 28 of February. Users may upload videos that capture their gaming style and must use the hashtag #TikTokGGPH. At the end of the campaign period, 20 creators will be selected to become part of TikTok’s community of gamers, based on the level of passion for gaming and creative potential seen in their videos.

Categories
Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

PH’s national esports league ties up with newly launched KALARO

Manila, Philippines – The Philippines has just announced its first grassroots nationwide esports development program on an official launch event January 16, which is to be spearheaded by the country’s national esports league, Philippine National Esports League (PNEL); and with this, locally developed esports platform KALARO has been partnered up to realize upcoming tournaments.  

The collaboration with KALARO comes as physical mass gatherings remain halted amid the pandemic. PNEL will be leveraging the platform in organizing and hosting esports tournaments across the country on a simultaneous and multiple game tournament setup. 

“Virtual tournaments is the major strength of KALARO and we can easily host any number of concurrent PNEL tournaments. Given the country’s potential to become world champions in Esports, we fully support PNEL’s advocacies”, said Jun D. Lasco, Founder of KALARO.

Together with PNEL, the country’s Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will support a Barangay level esports development across the country, or the localized units within the country’s cities. 

KALARO-Jun-Lasco-Presentation

KALARO was launched in October last year with a greater aspiration to bring esports closer to the younger generation and making it more inclusive for partner brands.

In an interview with MARKETECH APAC in the segment MARKETECH Experts Up Close, Lasco shared that KALARO hopes to expand its platform outside of the Philippine border.

“KALARO was designed for the needs of the ASEAN market but there is no stopping other non-ASEAN countries from localizing KALARO for their own specific market needs and conditions,” Lasco stated.

Categories
Main Feature Platforms Southeast Asia

KALARO as an esports engine for international competitiveness – a testament of Filipino ingenuity

Manila, Philippines – The rise of electronic sports (esports) in the country has been profoundly reaching a total count of around 43 million Filipino gamers. Streaming live via FB, YouTube & Twitch has become a fad for the young generation. The number of Filipino video-game content creators and influencers alike dramatically contributes to the popularity of game titles such as Mobile Legends, Call of Duty, and DOTA 2 among many. Yet, one question remains: should esports’ inclusivity be a part of this 21st-century culture?

In the second episode of MARKETECH Expert Up Close – a platform for leaders and their leadership thoughts – we sat down with the founder of The-AsiaGroup.com Inc., the company that recently launched a Filipino-made esports digital platform called “KALARO” by its inventor and software architect, Jun D. Lasco. From personal reflections on his past work ventures to his vision for the future of the Filipino esports industry, Jun expresses his excitement as to why KALARO is the “missing link” on how a nationwide development of the country’s esports stature & competitiveness can be elevated into the international esports arena in less than one year.

As Western counterparts are constantly churning out esports-related endeavors such as online matches, multinational company sponsorships, and collaborations, Jun’s vision to expand KALARO beyond the Philippines entails a strategic expansion to the ASEAN market, which he believes needs a “very easy to use” and “fully integrated” esports online digital platform to catalyze to rapidly develop their esports capability and capacity at the international levels of performance.

“KALARO was designed for the needs of the ASEAN market but there is no stopping other non-ASEAN countries from localizing KALARO for their own specific market needs and conditions,” Jun stated during a video interview for MARKETECH Expert Up Close.

Early roots of tech-inclined mindset and corporate experience

Jun has a deep connection and passion for tech-related projects and companies, as he graduated from the University of the Philippines back in 1986, with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Since then, he has worked with many companies, including the International Rice Research Institute, San Miguel Corporation, Fujitsu, and Ayala Group. His stint for the Ayala group of companies lasted until 2010, yet he left a plethora of international software development projects for Ayala Systems which had resulted in the said company being awarded by the Philippine government as the “Fastest-growing home-grown tech company of the year (2010)”.

Jun Lasco’s first job was at International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in 1986, where he worked as a programmer and analyst.

“I was thinking that as a next stage, a next challenge, I need to be able to set up my own company [since] 20 years in the corporate world is more than enough,” Jun stated.

Hence, The-AsiaGroup.com Pte. Ltd. (Singapore) was born in 2013, as a holding company for many of Jun’s established companies, which includes TopConnection Asia, a technology services provider for foreign companies seeking software development experts; MyPlay Asia, which is a professional resourcing business for the Philippine market; and HelloPlanet Asia, a distance-learning platform for English lessons catering to the Japanese market.

Ricocheting against corporate setbacks and challenges

In mid 2016, the companies under The-AsiaGroup.com Pte. Ltd. needed to shut down due to corporate setbacks, which then eventually led to the natural demise of The-AsiaGroup.com Pte. Ltd. itself in Singapore.

A company picture on of Jun Lasco’s early companies he found: technology services provider TopConnectionAsia.

Nevertheless, Jun had learned several lessons from these setbacks, which he reflected on.

One of the lessons he learned is that his experience from the corporate world doesn’t equate to being a founder and a leader of a self-established company. As Jun puts it, “Your corporate success and your corporate executive roles, no matter how big you’ve become in your corporate life is not a guarantee that you can or will become successful… when you do your own business.” However, he adds the fact that “it is a good foundation, a very good experience, but don’t count too much on it.”

A great point Jun had learned from these setbacks is that overconfidence can put anyone down in their business journey.

“Being naïve or too naïve about business and people is also not good; funding is a must-have during the initial phase of the start-up ventures and friendships sometimes end when there is big money at stake, among many lessons,” Jun notes.

He also notes the key importance of finding the right business partners. For instance, in Jun’s case, his areas of expertise are technology related such as software architecture, software development, and service delivery; but he needs skills for other non-tech functions such as marketing and sales.

A mix of hobbies and interests: the formula for KALARO’s creation

Aside from his tech background, he has also been into various sports like soccer, tennis, golf, shooting, mountain biking, and esports even before it was called so. During his industry study for the esports market in the Philippines and the ASEAN region, he saw the difficulties of using different apps and having to maintain various silos of information to be able to manage and operate an esports organization and business. Addressing these crippling limitations and pain points is where KALARO shows its prowess.

“Esports is one of those industries that is growing extremely fast and most especially during the pandemic situation wherein most people have to stay indoors,” Jun stated.

He also noted that the Philippine esports is not growing as fast as it should and in a very alarming status, mainly due to the following reasons: “fragmentation of the industry players, absence of automated systems that can help organizers run tournaments efficiently, and lack of formally organized nationwide tournaments for gamers to join and hone their skills, among many other factors”.

A teaser video on the pilot launch of the KALARO esports platform.

With these challenges and market potential in mind, Jun launched the country’s first esports online digital platform called KALARO, which integrates tournament management, social media, brand store-fronts, video streams from YouTube, FB & Twitch, and its e-wallet (in partnership with UnionBank) to create a fully integrated, easy to use app that directly addresses the pain points & aspirations of the various esports stakeholders in the country.

“The core of it is the tournament management platform integrated into its social network… (and) more important for brands to be able to support gamers and teams; and for brands to get much closer to this hard-to-reach generation of gamers,” Jun explains.

A tipping point for gaming addiction and brand connections

With the phenomenal global rise of the esports industry among the millennial and Gen Z generations, there are rising concerns about addiction to video-game playing. To address this issue, Jun is integrating advocacy and social responsibility programs as an indispensable part of The-AsiaGroup.com’s existence.

“These [programs] will create balance and institutionalize what KALARO is all about – KALARO is about helping those in need and educating gamers to learn to balance their love and passion for gaming versus their education and/or profession,” Jun stated.

Consequently, Jun is quite optimistic that Filipinos will very soon discover esports as a great potential full-time career and a source of livelihood, for indeed esports has become an integral part of the global 21st-century landscape.

One of the many tournaments the KALARO esports platform hosts: for instance, the KALARO Founders Cup for the game Mobile Legends.

Esports is indeed a career: both amateur and professional levels of esports will allow gamers, streamers, teams, and leagues to earn a living. It is now at the same level as NBA or football in the Western world and also in South Korea, Japan, and China.

As 43 million people in the Philippines are considered to be highly interested in gaming & esports, Jun is confident that corporate brands would want to increase their participation in Kalaro’s advocacy and social responsibility programs for such a huge underserved market.

“KALARO is an online digital platform for brands to advertise and sponsor actors in the gaming industry; at the same time, KALARO provides store-fronts for brands to be able to sell their gaming products directly to this captive audience inside KALARO. Gamers, streamers, and teams desperately need corporate funding and support to be able to grow their careers and the platform again provides such frictionless and direct online collaboration,” Jun explains.

Future of KALARO – thought leadership advice

Aside from expanding its services beyond the Philippine market and into ASEAN, Jun is quite proud that KALARO is also a modern testament that Filipinos can create globally competitive Software as a Service (SaaS) products – more commonly known as an “app”.

“First and foremost, KALARO is dedicated to our country and every Filipino. This is why we used the Philippine flag colors as inspiration for our logo. We want to show the world that Filipinos can indeed create apps at world-class standards. Our dream is for the Philippines to have many esports world champions and maybe, soon, in the Olympics,” Jun stated; which resonates with the fact that the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, held in the Philippines, introduced esports as an official sporting event which saw the Philippines winning several gold medals.

Jun advises technopreneurs to accept that failures and setbacks do happen, from time to time, in any endeavor and the key is to be prepared in advance before they happen. “Failures and setbacks will happen along the way, it is part of the journey but (if) we are headstrong and persistent in doing what you have dreamt and planned to achieve, your dream will soon become a reality when you do not give up,” Jun adds.

Finally, when asked for his best advice for technopreneurs, he opens up by stating that mastering your craft is the foundation, enjoying the journey is key, and continue to achieve goals one after another for it is your passion that will give you the energy and fulfillment along the way. All these served as the perfect backdrop to reviving what he had once lost in Singapore and saw the incorporation of the new, Philippine-based, The-AsiaGroup.com Inc. as a duly registered Filipino corporation and Jun’s latest creation, KALARO, is today US$5 – US$10 million in valuation.

“Once you have decided what you want to do, you must execute it with utmost speed, creativity & excellence. This is a long discussion, but be ready to get things done in the fastest way possible, create products or services that are of international quality, and use your creativity as the foundation for radical innovation,” Jun concludes.

Watch our live interview with Jun on MARKETECH APAC’s YouTube channel.

If you are a marketing or tech leader, founder or an agency head and you have a good story or insights to share, we want to hear from you. Please send us an email at [email protected].

Categories
Marketing Featured Global

In-game ad firm Bidstack extends market with new local, global tie-ups

London, United Kingdom – In-game advertising company Bidstack recently announced a new partner network with media partner platform Httpool and elite esports service agency GIMA Esports in the hopes of broadening up relationships to more brands and media platforms internationally.

Httpool’s partnership will mean an exclusive commercial focus on the Indian market. With a diverse portfolio of media partners and brands internationally, Bidstack aims at localizing its market expansion within the Indian esports culture.

On the other hand, GIMA Esports’ inclusion means a more diversified launch platform for Bidstack, offering services such as media partnerships, influencer, and brand activation. The esports agency has been responsible for maintaining esport relationships across US and MENA, with brands such as Twitch, Riot Games, and Hyper X joining their growing client portfolio.

Since the global pandemic started, advertisers have since then shifted their focus to gaming and esports channels as a viable marketing stream. With this, Bidstack hopes that such partner networks would help marketers create brand-safe and relevant ad campaigns within the esports culture.

“Shifts in media consumption globally are making it harder for advertisers to reach their audiences and there has been a significant industry-wide discussion about how these changes could be here to stay,” said Yasin Dabhelia, Bidstack’s global demand partnerships director.

As for Httpool, Amit Gupta, managing partner for Httpool India stated, “Marketers today are increasingly focussing on gaming and esports as a marketing channel. This has become even more obvious during lockdowns. And so, partnering with Bidstack has come at the right time. It creates an opportunity for us to actively participate in the discussion around how to activate the gaming space in the most authentic way and figure out the best ways to talk to gamers”.