Garena, the gaming division of Singapore-based Internet Sea, announced the numbers in its earnings report, and this is another sign that games are getting stronger during the pandemic. The previous record in March was 60 million daily active users (the number of users who log in for a day).
Overall, Garena’s adjusted digital entertainment revenues for the first quarter ended March 31 totaled $ 512.4 million, up 30.3% year over year. compared to $ 393.3 million. Adjusted earnings before income taxes, depreciation and amortization (a measure of profitability) was $ 298.4 million compared to $ 225.8 million a year earlier. Sea reported revenues of $ 913.9 million in the quarter.
Free Fire was ranked third in the world by downloads for Google Play in the mobile games category in the first quarter of 2020, according to App Annie. Free Fire ranks among other popular battle royale games like Call of Duty: Warzone, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite. But Free Fire is focused on mobile and 50 players compete at the same time in a win-win competition (many others have 100 players face to face).
Local celebrity marketing
During the quarter, Garena added new content, such as her Kalahari card and a ranked mode for the popular Clash Squads game mode. Garema President Forrest Li said in the call for results that the company is locating content for different markets around the world, including working with Indonesian actor Joe Taslim and Brazilian artist DJ Alok.
In Colombia, two of that country’s best-known footballers, James Rodriguez and David Ospina, each led teams of Free Fire influencers in an online charity tournament that drew over a million views. These local celebrity promotions, esports events, and localized updates are the way Garena typically broadens its audience, rather than standard marketing approaches.
Free Fire worked well as a mobile-only title with a strong focus on multiplayer competition, and it was designed to work on a wide variety of mobile devices.
For the full quarter, Garena said Free Fire had 402.1 million quarterly active users, up 48% for the year. It also had 35.7 million quarterly paid users (those who spent money during the quarter), up 72.5% from 20.7 million a year earlier. Free Fire was the most profitable mobile game in Latin America and Southeast Asia during the quarter, said Garena.
And in April, Free Fire hit a record level of monthly paid users, which more than doubled from the same month a year ago. In India, monthly paid users represent 10% of the total user base.
And in the first quarter, Garena organized more than double the number of online esports tournaments for Free Fire compared to the first quarter of 2019, these tournaments having accumulated more than 90 million views.
Overall, Sea’s activities include SeaMoney (payments), e-commerce and digital entertainment.