While the Battle Royale genre is based on a Highlander “There Could Be Only One” concept, the genre has evolved to play pretty well with others, spawning a handful of high-profile hits marked by the brands’ frequent collaborations.
PUBG Mobile is one such example. In the more than four years since its launch, PUBG Mobile has collaborated with movies, TV shows, musicians, automotive brands, sports teams, other video games, soft drinks, and Baby Shark. Twice.
talk to GamesIndustry.biz Recently, Vincent Wang, head of PUBG Mobile publishing at Tencent Games, said that the process behind these collaborations has changed significantly.
“When PUBG Mobile launched a little over four years ago, we almost always started talking to brands for potential collaboration,” Wang said. “But now I can say it’s 50-50 between promoting brands and receiving requests.”
“A good collaboration is one designed for fans of existing games and new IP fans alike”
This helps the company build relationships with brand owners who have a variety of different features, many of which can be used as future transitions. Of course, every campaign should have a meaning in itself.
“A good collaboration is one designed for both fans of existing games and fans of new IP,” Wang said. “Throughout the design, build and delivery process, you must strike the right balance of sticking to what existing players love while respecting the IP you inspired.”
This often – but not always – involves adding new gameplay elements.
“It’s really great to introduce new insights, but collaborations offer an incredible and unique opportunity to completely change game systems without alienating existing players,” said Wang.
Another changing part of the cooperative game is the idea of exclusivity. The days when a publisher owned all video game rights to a popular character or brand are long gone, and cross-media marketing campaigns by brand owners are increasingly coinciding with collaborations with the launch of a flagship movie. For example, Spider-Man: No Way Home held events when it hit theaters in both PUBG Mobile and rival battle royale game Fortnite.
“Exclusive partnerships are very rare right now because brands across all industries know video game partnerships are great and will bring value,” Wang said. “It no longer has to be a competition to win an exclusive partnership with a big brand. Instead, it’s a competition over who can do it best. Games are now scored based on co-op depth. Introducing some new cosmetics or is this a major game changer?
“It no longer has to be a competition to win an exclusive partnership with a big brand. Instead, it’s a competition over who can do it best.”
“with us [League of Legends animated Netflix series] Arcane Partnership, for example, has partnered with a number of different games, but we’re completely focused on using IP to deliver a unique gaming experience. It was very well received by the community and stood out from some of the other games Arcane has partnered with.
“This approach is how games differ from each other in the age of collaboration. Now as we approach collaborations, we really try to think about how much we can explore the new world, its exciting characters, stories and battles. PUBG Mobile is coming to Godzilla vs. early 2021. When we got together with Kong, we wanted to stand out once again and do something really special. We’ve completely recreated the epic final battle from the movie in-game, where players are a key part of defeating Mechagodzilla.
Wang says brands are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of gaming collaborations.
“PUBG Mobile gamers, and gamers more broadly, are more brand loyal than the average consumer and are much more insightful if you talk to them properly – adding value to their experience compared to just advertising,” he says. “You can see from the volume of partnerships we’ve had over the past year, how comfortable brands are now with video game collaborations. We have worked with brands from almost every industry. The figures we can show as an industry are very convincing. , just like what we can show our partners after successful cooperation.”
“It’s pretty solid in 2022 that most brands understand the basics of good partnership. We now spend much less time discussing topics like individual cosmetics, because brands are already coming to the table with clear ideas. It’s great because it means we can spend more time and energy on the big ideas we can create and deliver.”
Despite the Baby Shark campaigns mentioned above, we wonder if PUBG Mobile’s realistic/military motif poses a challenge for some partners, while Fortnite’s more stylized look is more acceptable to brands.
“[T]the game isn’t too violent or glorifying it, so PUBG Mobile is very confident about it”
“You mentioned military motifs in PUBG Mobile, but the game isn’t too violent and doesn’t glorify it, so PUBG Mobile is very safe,” Wang said. “Thanks to this, we’ve been able to partner with everyone from Tesla to Line Friends to French Haute Couture fashion designer Julien Fournié.
“Our main focus is on player expression and as such we can always work with creative and eclectic brands like Julien Fournié or Zaha Hadid Architects as they add new and exciting ways for players to express themselves. . This is one of the main keys to PUBG Mobile’s success and gives players many options to express themselves.”
As “brand safe” as PUBG Mobile is, the game has been banned in a number of markets over the years, with authorities voicing concerns that children become addicted and violent behavior as reasons to limit gaming.
“PUBG Mobile operates in multiple markets and we are very aware of how video games are viewed by some,” Wang said. “We are also very aware of our responsibility to help protect young people from the problems that can arise from excessive video gaming, physical health issues and beyond.
“The health and safety of our players is paramount to us. What we can and can do is list everything PUBG Mobile has done to ensure we are a net positive in the lives of young people. We have launched a game management system to limit playtime in certain markets, localized in all markets where we operate. We have worked to fully comply with laws and regulations and have led or supported a number of community projects such as the WHO’s PlayApartTogether initiative or the Play as One campaign to support the Direct Aid Foundation.None of these directly impact our user growth or revenue, but socially It is very important to our goal of being a responsible brand.”
These bans are also a reminder that every market is different and may react differently to the same content or promotion. That’s why, Wang says, PUBG Mobile has both global and market-specific collaborations, such as the Japanese-exclusive crossover with the Black Lagoon anime series, or the Middle East Crew Unknown promotion featuring Egyptian comedian Mohamed Henedi.
“Giving the best experience for everyone sometimes means understanding and respecting regional differences…”
“Giving the best experience for everyone means sometimes understanding and respecting regional differences, and sometimes creating different collaborations in different locations,” he says. “PUBG Mobile does a mix of both, depending on many factors such as the size of the IP, the extent of the changes it will bring to the game, and also what the IP really is. A worldwide movie, a regional hit, or an automotive project – each may require a different approach. »
When considering the future of brand collaborations in games, it’s natural to wonder how this relates to the concept of the meta-universe that many companies are currently pursuing. After all, the most understood vision of the metaverse in pop culture was the adaptation of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One; this was notable for the film itself, as well as for the torrent of intellectual property it contained.
“Brand migrations depend on the concept of a metadata store, which is at its core very abstract at the moment, but clearly tied to the idea of multiple brands, companies, and IPs coming together to expand the reach of their users. says Wang.
Well, as the person who laid the foundations for this vision, what would Wang say to those who want to make it a reality?
“The advice I’m going to give is the same advice that helped PUBG Mobile grow to where it is,” he says. “Focus on providing the best possible value to your players through fun and engaging content or a variety of opportunities for self-expression. Building a space where people really want to come back, socialize and interact will be key to their success.”