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Sustainable Esports Is No Fairytale – The PUBG MOBILE Journey

Although the world of esports is still considered to be a nascent space, there are clear frontrunners that are shaping how the future will look for the rest of the industry. The battle royale experience that is PUBG MOBILE is clearly one of the leading lights on that front, with synergistic elements that encourage participation from players, partners, and the industry as a whole.

The journey of establishing such a strong and sustainable ecosystem is a neverending one, and there are key lessons to be learned at every stage. Just as the safe zone in a PUBG MOBILE match shrinks and players have to find new ways of surviving, the team putting together everything that makes the esports side of things work is constantly reinventing themselves to meet the challenge.

As part of Gamescom Asia 2023, the Head of Southeast Asia Publishing at Level Infinite, Oliver Ye, was on hand to share about how the game’s sustainable esports ecosystem came about, and the trials and tribulations standing in the way.

A key pillar of esports is storytelling, something Ye was keen to stress as a way to connect fans, pro players, and the PUBG MOBILE experience. And a good story requires the ingredients of the right stage, stars that the community can relate to, and an engaging script.

For PUBG MOBILE, the stage comes down to the three Ps – Potence, Pyramid, and Partners.

Potence means “having a strong foundation” for the product, putting in the hard work to support esports and maintaining high-quality offerings over a sustained period of time. In addition, the competitive scene has to be built up like a Pyramid, transitioning from local interest to international renown.

“After the inception of PUBG MOBILE, we focused on local grassroots interests all across different SEA countries and gradually built a direction over the years to complete our competitive circuit for PUBG MOBILE ESPORTS. What makes our pyramid so successful is the gradual buildup and emphasis on the competition between different countries – their hunger to prove that they are the best in the world,” Ye explained. “From there, we continue to progress, gathering stars from around the world and different regions, culminating in the PUBG MOBILE Global Championship.”

This was followed up by the PUBG MOBILE Super League to further enhance regional tournaments, ensuring that across the board, players were given the right playing field to shine.

Lastly, the right partners can make a world of difference. “Finding, cooperating with, and investing in the right stakeholders with mutual interests” can go a long way. The increased avenues in which fans can consume esports content is but one example of how the team is growing the fanbase, alongside partners that have the same beliefs and values.

“With the right pyramid and competitive direction, we are able to encompass the majority of SEA countries for a battle royale game. Bringing them all together to find out who has what it takes to battle other giants of the world. At the same time, PUBG MOBILE has the support and is working closely with well over 10 different industry leaders all across the SEA region.”

As more industries see the potential of the medium, the days of traditional sponsorships will soon be a thing of the past, and the possibilities will only grow.

This is also driven by the people at the core of the esports medium, the players. It is beneficial to all parties that the players and teams are given the right care and attention to grow within the ecosystem, paving the way for personalities with star quality to emerge.

Ye highlighted the Indonesian veteran, Zuxxy, as an example. A player who “fought from the bottom of the pyramid and is currently still competing on the highest world stage and in national events, winning global MVP awards and championships,” he represents a path that others can follow. Beyond just the game, the esports ecosystem of PUBG MOBILE makes it possible for stars to be made.

Furthermore, the connection with local communities is emphasized when it comes to storytelling in the space, driving engagement and discussions alike that garner attention both from within and outside of the esports bubble.

“Understanding the latest topics or points of conversation allows us to engage with our fans effectively, create meaningful content, and help them reminisce about the many wonderful moments we have witnessed in PUBG MOBILE esports,” shared Ye.

This means building on viral memes, trending topics, and even heated rivalries. As much as there are risks involved, Ye feels that “it’s important for the organizers to lead and capitalize on these debates, shifting them into healthier and more interesting directions.” The presence of local teams and hundreds of staff members makes it possible to anticipate, react, and take full advantage whenever the opportunity arises.

No one said it was ever going to be easy, but for Ye and his team, it has been a worthwhile endeavor that will only get bigger from here on out. Now, it’s time for the competition to step up to the plate, as the battle for the esports chicken dinner gets even more heated up.

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