Hans Kurniadi Saleh, Country Head for Garena MENA and Indonesia, explains in details what it takes to ensure that Free Fire stays a leading game in the world and how is the company promoting the game in the Middle East region
There are many Battle Royale games available on mobile, in your view, what makes Free Fire to be among the top for a long period?
What makes Free Fire to be among the top worldwide, is that we put our efforts on understanding what our users want. It is vital for us at Free Fire to understand the tastes and preferences of our users, and then localizing the experience. It is important for us to understand and closely work with the local gaming community to ensure that we deliver a localized Free Fire experience that is fun and exciting, an experience that can be enjoyed alone or with friends.
What is it that makes Free Fire so unique and how has been your experience in the Middle East?
The Middle East region has grown for us in past few years and today, it is a key growth region for us globally. The opportunity with gaming in the region is exciting as nearly half of the MENA population is under 25 years old and have grown up as digital natives with gaming playing a huge role in their entertainment, so there is a great opportunity for Free Fire to grow even further.
We are working hard to further develop the Middle East region, our team has conducted quite a number of localized activities within the region, one of the most memorable ones being the collaboration with the Egyptian superstar, Mohamed Ramadan, during the Ramadan month in 2021, where he became the first ever playable Arabic character in Free Fire under the name Maro.
Marking the launch of Maro were a series of activations including a special light show on the Burj Khalifa, and the 3D mural painted on a billboard in Cairo by Mexican artist, Juandres Vera, the Guinness World Record Holder for the largest anamorphic pavement art.
In addition to the above would be our latest collaboration with 21st century pop icons, BTS, which featured 7 bundles designed by BTS members themselves in the game. On-ground activation zones were also set up in popular public places across cities Cairo, Casablanca, and Riyadh, which featured a photo booth where visitors can take pictures with FF x BTS elements and a Spin the Wheel machine which rewarded limited FF x BTS merchandise.
What are you offering to gamers from the region?
Our focus has always been on our users, and for them we are offering:
1) engaging and locally relevant content
2) provide the platform and opportunities for Free Fire players to represent their regions at the highest stage and showcase their skills
What can Middle Eastern gamers expect from Free Fire and what piece of advice would you like to give to the players who intend to take up esports as a career?
Gamers from the region can expect that Free Fire will continue to focus on building experiences – both in-game and out-of-game as well as we will keep on investing in resources to grow the Free Fire esports in the region.
Esports is evolving and has a bright future, the online gaming industry is growing from strength to strength across the world including the Middle East region. This gives great opportunities across the whole ecosystem: allowing players to be professional athletes, influencers, casters, streamers and many other careers in the esports world.
Being passionate about gaming is also one of the most important factors and this is something I will advise all those interested to take gaming or esports as a career.