Talking Chinese tech, video games and generative AI with Adam Najberg at Web Weds Bankgkok
3:01AM Jul 20, 2023
seeing that? No. Can everybody has seen the end in mind? Like missing a joke?
Okay, so thank you for coming. We this was very last minute the we had about 20 people sign up, but I guess is Bangkok. So it happens that way. And we're actually streaming from that black thing over there is a camera straight into the Chinese government's political committee offices, because one of the conditions of Adam maj being here tonight was the Chinese government had to make sure he didn't say the wrong thing. So if you're in PR communications, you'll fully understand, right? So let's get going. The reason the reason why you all understand the cost, right? So Nash Nash is here because he's flown in for a holiday. And I decided to ambush him, to invite him to come and talk a little bit about what he does. So I met Nash. And he just got a
long time ago, a
long time ago, when he was working for The Wall Street Journal. How many of you in here read the Wall Street Journal and The Wall Street Journal readers? Tom, your NPR to illustrate Street Journal? Gary. Sometimes, the nation Bangkok Post used to be the thing used to be a thing as a company. So luckily, Adam or Naj, moved into Chinese technology companies. So he he went into DJI. And if any of you have seen drones, most of them come from DJI how many come from you to Germany and
80% global market share? Does that work? Yeah, it's a little soft. Now it's a little loud. I think. Now it's a little loud. Or it's just me because yeah, they have about an 8% global market share of consumer drones.
So this obviously works. So and then he went to to play with the sound like the sound a bit. He's not only tech PR guy, he's also into some networking. We'll carry on you can hear us right? Yep. So knowledge then joined Alibaba, and Tencent. So as he's in the gaming world, and some of you kind of interested in gaming, I thought we'd start off by understanding how does a guy like him, an American end up working for Chinese tech companies.
It's actually like, a lot more straightforward than that. I had two kids who wanted to go to university in the United States. And I didn't have a lot of money because, you know, earn a lot of money as journalist and earn more money in PR. And the only company is crazy enough to hire me directly from journalism. We're Chinese company. So they really gave me a shot.
But you were able to speak Chinese. Yeah, so
I started studying Mandarin in 1986, and started studying some Cantonese in silly City College of San Francisco. And I went to graduate school, and then took a bunch of like, 60 hours of Cantonese in Hong Kong. So I kind of became fully functional over a bunch of years.
And how's your tie up here? What two days? So how's your time? The
only word I know is Mac, Mac, Mac, Mac.
Excellent. You learn some more later. So let's just tell me what you do in intensive games. I mean, Tencent is a giant Chinese company. What is your meal title? Sounds very grand, right? Head of Global Head of Communications content. So what what do you actually do?
Yeah, so actually, it's Head of Communications for Tencent games, global or low infinite, which is our global brand. I'm still marveling the fact that you get paid to be in games like that. When I was a kid, that's all I ever really wanted to do. And now I'm actually doing it but the issue is, we're trying to launch a global brand. Tencent is the largest gaming company in the world. It's probably also the largest Chinese tech company that outside of circles like this, most people have never heard of. Everyone's heard of Ali Baba, and it kind of guess what it is. But Tencent is one of these companies where they just don't know. It's largest in terms of revenue. And it also has like well over 300 Studios, it's invested in our
own country. Thanks. In the studios that people might know,
if you refer to some of them epic riot supercell. Those are the big ones. But we also have stakes in Grinding Gear games. 10 chambers, Fat Shark shark mob.
So the popular ones in Thailand could be pub. G. What else? What other games? Oh,
the games? Yeah. So actually, Taiwan is extinction. In in Southeast Asia, it has almost 225 registered professional of GM players. That's the largest in Southeast Asia.
So these people do it as a full time sport they do. That's their job tournaments, or just sitting at home.
That's where all the money is in the tournament, as we were talking about it before. It's, it's a thing, it really is a thing, and you make a lot of money at it.
So you decide to do PR rather than playing.
I suck at the game because I love playing but I mean, I honestly I you know, back when PCs were first coming out, I used to play on the trs 80. And then I used to stay up all night in college and play Command and Conquer racing games, sports games, FIFA NBA Live when it came out, and, you know, I never really stopped playing. And, you know, I just, I sort of feel like, the games that a lot of kids play now, especially in the mobile ones. And especially, you know, I'm just not a mobile gaming player, particularly except for one baseball game. It's a different world, like everyone is carrying their games around with them in their pocket. Now,
you mean that they're more casual, or they're still playing the,
it's more segmented than before. So you have the option to play games like Candy Crush, you know, the casual game. You know, you can play games like pub, G mobile, and in amateur, or you can go out and play in a league. There's mobile games is I mean, there's so many sports genres, fighting genres, carries and genres, it really has become. So there's so much IP. And actually, I was reading that. Now we think about it in those terms. But before 2010 There's just a story, the other data is out there, over 87% of the games created for 2010 are lost history, the only way that you can actually look at suddenly the debt 87%. Yeah, so the only way that you can play them is to find a pirated version and play it like no one's preserving this
not even Google stadia, or
any No, it's It's strange. I mean, there are some collections of these things and museum was like, in New York, the Museum of Modern Art, surprisingly, MoMA has, like considered games, modern art. So they have a whole section of those games. But that's just a tiny fraction of all these studio games that were produced.
So do you Did you see, I mean, during COVID, a lot of stuff at home, did you see a huge growth in that kind of community of game players? And has that died? Or is these people that adopted it full time,
there was definitely a spike up just like there was a spike up in delivering groceries, because it really, you know, what could you do, you could read books, you could play games you could eat, really couldn't go anywhere, do anything. So there was an uptick there. I would say the market now is is getting better. But it sort of, there were lots of ups and downs since COVID. Over a year ago, we had some downs. And now I think things are picking up again, I don't know if we're gonna get that big spike up to where we were before but the basis of the sire
being based in Singapore, does that mean, although it's a global agreement? Do you look a lot at Southeast Asia? Do you look at what's going on in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia? Is that who's so close? Right?
Yeah. So my job is global. I have someone who looks after the pack. And then we have teams in Southeast Asia, in different countries, Malaysia, Thailand, Thailand is a really interesting market. We can talk about it. But I would say this is a promising area. But there is no real No, this is no Southeast Asia, there's individual country who sleeps at home and, you know, timings hot and interesting. So as Indonesia, other countries just, you know, they're getting there, but they just don't have the same size or scale that you see in countries like China and the United States.
What does it what is hot and interesting? What many things?
So I would say for Thailand. You know, I was discussing this earlier with some of you guys, but you can pretty much look at a country in the world and say, Oh, this is a PC game country or this is a console country, or mobile. A lot of the developing countries are mobile oriented for games. Timeline is quite diverse. It has. I think there was a poll done by user, which is kind of the organization that does the data on this is that over 95% of the people they polled in Thailand, said that they played mobile games, but nearly 70% also had played PC games and then over 50% have played console games as well. And that is not something we've seen a lot of countries have
played means that don't do it. Right means because if you go anywhere, anywhere in, in Bangkok, Not everybody has on their mobile phones, needs bars, public transport offices, shopping, micro supermarkets, nobody leaves them about.
I mean, that's your 95%. But the fact that you have 70%, who also play on computers or so they have played on computers, you know, people have personal computers, steam is a big thing, if you want some of these, the problem with mobile games right now is, while the latency has gotten quite good, because of cloud latency getting better and 5g connectivity, you still have the issue of it's a small screen. You know, Nintendo Switch, just kind of sitting in between small and big screen and plugging into the TV. But I think like that's like an interim step to get to ultimate interoperability. And I think then those questions about what you're playing on won't be as important.
So I was quite curious. I asked these two ladies from any minute earlier. Do they play games thinking that they were like in the bullseye? They said, No. So I'm just curious out of the people in this room, how many of you are gamers? Don't be shy. Don't be shy. 123? How many? All have time for gaming? And how many of you play on your mobile phones? Mobile phones, consoles? Consoles? You got I think about 75%. But
part of the problem is these guys aren't necessarily the demographic. I would I would say. I mean, it runs the gamut. At one point, I think for honor of kings or in China, there are more women playing the men. But I also think, you know, kind of skews younger and a lot of cases. Yeah, it's largely more male than female in most cases. There are a lot of casual games that replay but but women are smarter sometimes because they'll don't waste their time playing some of some of these games.
Women a smart season, don't waste time playing games.
That's right mobile game. Stop it.
So let's talk about like where games are going. Because obviously games have evolved, right? I mean, the last two years, there was this mad energy around NFT Metaverse web three, I got sucked up into it in Hong Kong. This whole idea that, you know, games are going Metaverse, they're going web three, we're all gonna own characters in games, I'm gonna be able to take them from, you know, pub G to another game to another game to another game. So what, what happened there? Why? Why did the big gaming companies didn't see any real recognition by the big game companies,
I think there are a few things going on. So first of all, that day will come, I do think your digital identity will actually be a real thing. And it will have value to you value to friends, you have a lot of actual value because of credits that you can somehow spend. And those credits can be transferred over. But that day is not today. I think that's part of the problem is generally with fads. And you've seen it this year is the bullshitters in the marketers run ahead of everything. And you know, it's always like, as soon as it, you know, becomes part of the vernacular. They're all over it to tell you that, you know, there's money to be made in it. There's an app for this, and, you know, they start to roll out iterations of things. And, you know, the argument is, you got to be in it early. If you're not an early, you know, you're not going to win. And I think the problem is, it's almost as bad to be too early. And it's too late. Because you kind of go in and buy a virtual property. You know, God forbid your character is causing that legs in the metaverse if you're buying a building in there. What do you do with that? And you recognize is that is there any kind of global law that says that it's your buildings, like when you buy one of those moon rocks, you know, or you buy a star? You know, how do you know it's really yours? Right? So my point is, it was kind of like digital snake oil in the sense of and I'm not just taking a swing at this, I'm being very honest. I'm a storyteller. I do public relations with content. And I think games are also about storytelling, which is why I like them so much. You're a character you're gonna journey in the game. And I think that if NF T's, if all this whip three stuff, and all these digital coins and stuff actually made the storytelling of the game better, the characters better or the experience better, then I'm all for it. I think the issue is largely like when I go talk to our studios, I went on a tour of seven of them last fall and ask them are you guys doing anything with web three? Now, I mean, Tencent is experimenting with some things, not, you know, anything particular that I'm involved in, but But these days are also studios that we invest in are also not doing VR and AR and ask why? And the answer I got was, Well, why would we build something right now for an installed base of 5 million people, when we could go for 500 million people or 50 million people. And I think this goes back to my saying about being too early, you know, is not necessarily a good thing. Their point is code is code, and it will write it for whatever platform there there's an installed audience, the things that tend to run ahead of the industry, are the marketers who see opportunities to get people to, you know, buy in the shovels from them, you know, for the gold rush. So
you didn't have a moment where Philippines or Indonesia was going crazy with this. Left players you are. Right, there was a there was a moment there were games became a way to make an income. Right. So that's not so much about the game experience the gameplay? Yeah, it was about making money and making money. Right.
Yeah. And I think that's, you know, there's difference between games of chance and games a skill, that's the issue of loot boxes. And I think in this case, it's, you know, a really playing a game, where are you doing something to make money, and, you know, because there are lots of things that you can do, you can turn your computer into a slave, you can turn your computer into a bitcoin miner, you know, stuff like that, all I'm trying to say is, I just feel as if that day will come, where all of that stuff is integrated, but it's sort of like, you know, digital currency in general, fiat currency, and will be given over to the public by central banks, you know, over there pull dead bodies of central bankers, when we actually have regulations organization, when we have, you know, with games, in particular, when we have consoles, or PCs that are good and fast enough to handle all of this stuff, where it is genuinely additive to the experience and the storytelling will be on those five forums
will do its thing, it's all about the experience, but 10 cent back in its home ground, it has QQ and you get QQ coins. So they've had the concept of earning by plane. So you there is a currency, a lot of these games have a currency, they have a bag of weights and stuff and spend stuff, right you get you get power ups, you get, you know, to feed other people, whatever.
But we also built an organic audience for that. And that's kind of my point, which is, you know, this touches on another area, that company that I don't work for, but WeChat, you know, they call it wasting inside China. And if about WeChat was, you know, it started as a messaging program, right. But you know, it went kind of took the browser from your PC and messaging from the PC and put it onto your phone. But it's rapidly become a micro economy with the last piece sort of being the payment system. And I think that when you have an installed audience, it's the same for games, when you have that installed audience and you can kind of close that loop a little bit, or as much as you want to, as long as regulators say it's okay. And get them doing things and they're buying yourselves ordering their cars, you know, buying a movie tickets,
and in Thailand slide, right. It's the same thing online games, there's all kinds of things. So talking about this new brand Level Level internet infotainment, what is the concept of moving games as a service or gas? What? No Software as a Service. So I mean, you're saying that we don't buy game, then we own it later, as much as we like, because it's like, you have to go in and log in every time and then every time you experience changes, what is different about the whole experience? Or is it just a payment mechanism?
So there's a lot of convergence going on, I think, you know, payment mechanisms, not particularly for level internet. But essentially, what you're seeing is little infinite passes out there. Now, it's one of these kinds of single point log ons for multiple games. Everyone has these launchers but you're, that's how, you know, you're kind of entering someone's ecosystem, right. But I think that kind of what you're seeing is, you know, like, movies are starting to incorporate game type CGI games have been including movie stuff for a while now 10 Of all growing together. And that's where like, you know, from a level infinite side of things. When we talk about games as a service, here's the concept. About a dozen years ago, Tencent started investing in all these studios overseas and also inside China, but talking about mostly overseas now to gain some IP access for PC and console, because Tencent is primarily inside China Mobile base. But also, I think, a key reason that Tencent was doing this was because we see the day of cross platform interoperability, we see the possibilities for I don't know if things grown together in a way where you start on the small screen and on the big screen. And
you know, people do not know their favorite games across screens.
Not yet. On some level It did, because it's always talked about, right? Yes, it will come. And I think, you know, the first thing is breaking down the walls between Microsoft and Sony so that players playing the same game on different consoles can do that, it'll come a lot quicker, and then what you were talking about where you bring your character across all those games, well, sort of the on ramp to that might be different, it might be EA, or it might be a little a little different if passed, but you should be able to play with other people.
So it's the idea is it's a bit like the open AI concept. So hopefully, you'll be able to Well, originally, that you'd be able to move from platforms,
from state to state or country to country across the border, you know, you're still driving the same car and you're, you're still yourself. It's kind of messed up in the digital world. And I really think that where this is kind of headed with games as a service, why this matters, is wiping studios interested in investment from Tencent in the first place, you know how expensive it is to produce a triple A game, how much time it takes like, one game, not one of ours but costs almost half a billion dollars and took five years to create that
how much pub G
cost? No, no, pub G has been a rainmaker and it didn't cost that much. It was built off of Kraft, Heinz, Kraft Heinz non-mobile version of an IP, but essentially, games as a service, what it's saying is, instead of taking four years and spending $200 million to build your game, and then wondering and hoping and praying and throwing marketing money at it, so that will be successful. Why don't you spend $50 million and try to get it out in a year and instead of having 10 episodes come out with two
initially, that's like fast fashion of gaming,
to some extent, except that people will throw it in the garbage or put it in a landfill or something like what you want is, what you want to do is you want to create a community. And I want to create a micro system there micro-ecosystem, build up a buzz, add new characters have don't want downloadable content. So the game itself that you buy, maybe it's free, and maybe it's cheap, but then you subscribe to a service. And over the course of the next several years, you keep putting out more and more pieces of content. And then you have the built in following that's organically increasing.
But if you want to build a community, surely you need to start doing coming out of COVID. We've all realized we want to be with other humans in the flesh, right? Yeah. So is it not about the eSports, the tournaments, all the things that are popular in this part of the world are getting out in front of people and watching people play in front of you, and the excitement that you don't get sitting in front of a console?
I think there there is that kind of real world excitement to it, if you've been to one of these e tournaments, you know, eSports tournaments in a stadium. Wow. Like the SPO is just one of the companies that we invest in China's largest eSports company, there are others as well. They really know how to put on a show and you just can't get help but caught up in it. Because you go from these little screens in your hand, and you see what's being played head to head on a on a big screen. And you just have the crowd getting into it. It's like really being at an actual sports event. It's being live streamed onto Twitch, or we have our own platform for trovo. And what you tend to see after that is you tend to see that people get caught up in the excitement, they're interested in this pure curious, look, download this games, the daily active users will go up the download numbers about the monthly active users will go up. It's kind of the marketing for games. And it has a lot of, you know, sexy, interesting, exciting, fun elements to it, because it's really
funny, because it's exciting. And there's marketing. There's there's one side, which is driving downloads, right? Which are friends that only might try and do programmatic. Right, but what about, what about the you and I were talking earlier? About brands getting into it? Right? What is sports, you know, football match, you'll have brands getting in and wrapped around the pictures on the players? Why? Why is that world? I know, there's a lot of money now in eSports, but it still seems quite slow on the uptake. Right. Just in terms of in terms of brands getting into it.
Yeah, I think, you know, like politics, so but
what what consultation, but anyway, I mean, when he's on stage, but just to
paraphrase what he was saying before is, you know, it's kind of hard because a lot of the players are Gen Z players, and the brands generally you're not, you know, actively selling all their stuff to Gen Z because they're at the sort of bottom of the pyramid right now. Don't have money, you don't have jobs, you know, we're just starting to get jobs. But what you're doing is like, you know, like my cousin sells insurance dental students why not because they have a lot of money but because he knows that, you know, for life insurance in 10 years these guys gonna be making tons of money but every time they give somebody braces or something no It's the same idea of your future proofing your business when you're doing this, because you're, you're offering products and services to a group of people that are moving up, and they're going to be the big money earners in 1015 20 years. And the other thing about this, though, is, it's hard to get it right. Because the channels that they use right now to sell things are very analog are very early web one or early web two digital, they're not kind of going where the Gen Z players gamers are, you know, and you gotta catch them where they are. And then the last part of it was authenticity. Because if they smell that you're just trying to sell them something and you're not really, you know, it's like your grandfather trying to be cool, then you're done. Like, you don't want your brand.
But having said that, you know, I've seen where like Grand Theft Auto into play, right? People want to see genuine brands in that, right? They want to feel they're in the real world, right? Yeah. So there's a, there's a kind of catch 22 Is the brands that Big Macs that, you know, they're in that right, the KFC is the
you know, it makes sometimes it makes no sense to me, we talked about this earlier, too, that you go watch a Premier League game, and some Chinese company you've never heard of, and 99% of people in the stadium have never heard of that they bought the brakes to the whole bottom of the stadium, you know, the advertisement going around? It's a little bit silly. So why is it silly? Or why would it be silly for you know, a game that has like 25 or 50 million players in it? Who are of a certain demographic? Why is it silly to be selling ads that target that audience in that game, because it's a legit gathering place for them. They're there for entertainment. They're there to have fun. They're there to socialize with their friends. And you know, you're also not really necessarily selling them in the game, you could theoretically turn on monetization tab at some point. But right now, like, why wouldn't you want to be advertising?
Let's talk about some of the content things that you were telling me earlier in the content kind of partnerships. Like when you're doing games, it's quite, you know, you could do interesting stuff. So you've done some things in Thailand. It was a co Packer that can you maybe you can explain some things you've done with soccer Master? Yeah, some of the streaming service engagements and time,
the actual the names of the people don't matter in the sense that we all know who the biggest ones are in any given market. So for pub GM, you know, because it's the same demographic who's who's watching these guys, what are they watching and doing? You know,
what music demographic is
that demographic is generally skewing to under 24, like 18 to 24 largely male, except when you're looking at like Kpop stuff like Black Pink, I love that. But you're exactly right. And I think, you know, it's, it's, um, I put them on all my Instagram reels. But basically, I would say that you enter a market and pump GM. Like, that's a great way to localize that game. Even more than you know, doing something with menus in the game is making people feel like their pop star in the skin can be purchased at a affordable price.
So Thailand has to what actor actors, right?
Yeah. Oh, no, you're gonna push him. I cannot remember, too. There were too many groups. Yeah, there are two actors. One streamer. Sorry, guys.
Extremely beautiful. Lady and one, I guess. Thompson. Gotcha.
It was on your blurb. Yeah. Which I sent the info to you, I think. But sorry. It's just quite baffling to botch names that I can't, can't pronounce properly. But, you know, we do with bigger things to globally to like spider man or Burberry and things like that. I think. If there's
this case, you're using streamers, right? You're using game streamers who are popular in Thailand? Yes. a, what's called a caca stream or something. Using them, using them to engage the community. Right? That's why that's a very PR thing or marketing thing.
It's, it's what you would call sort of, I'd say like random partnerships, okay, because you want the pup GM to be aligned with your players? Yeah. And who better to align with than people who already are speaking to them,
just because luxury brands use Kol and things like that, right? And in the gaming world, I guess you'd use the streets that they are your version of a Kol. Right.
100%. These are the guys who know the game play the game. They're kind of a conduit for information about the game in both directions.
So let's talk a little bit about the world that you were saying about the kind of tech crew getting a little bit carried away for the last what, six months, we've all we've all got swallowed up into anything AI, right? Is this something that the gaming world is looking at as saying, Oh, this is interesting, slightly more interesting than the metaverse is it Are they are they are all the gaming studios biting their nails and saying oh my god, I haven't got a job in three years. Or is it is it all going to be you know, auto generated by large language models?
Because I think AI is more real than metaverse. Metaverse is going to happen. The issue is like, right now what is the metaverse? The problem is it's like asking what is digital? It means different things to different people. And I think, you know, the reason that it's hard to grasp Metaverse is because technology is still quite not quite there. And even if you have five different competing ones, can they communicate with each other? Can the on ramps connect with each other toys, etc, etc. I think in this case, though, with AI, it actually, you know, it's real, it's been around and Associated Press has been doing sports stories since 2014, using the versions of it with human checks and balances, of course, and I think that's, at least for the foreseeable future, that's really going to matter. But here's the thing
about sports stories just scores, right, with 15 ways of saying they score, right, or they lost, or they won, right? It's like stock market. Yeah,
but you know, the problem with AI right now it is, like, I asked Chet GPT to generate a bio of me. And it got a lot of things, right. It knew that I wrote three books, but got all the titles wrong. And you wonder, like, how does that happen? Yeah. And I think, you know, again, there's all this under
curiosity, what, what titles do they give them?
But one of them was a New York Times bestseller. And that certainly was not my book. But essentially, what I would say is, AI for games is a real thing in the sense that, you know, we talked about a Game Developers Conference. So let's say you're playing a game where there's more than 1000 people playing his mask battle, right? Have you create that experience on the screen so that my brain doesn't explode with all those people playing. So AI is able to kind of parse how to group these players that you don't get overwhelmed. Another good example, if we just take GTA, you could ask AI right now to create an algorithm or code whereby no two characters will ever look the same in that game. And that's part of the non playable characters in that game. If you notice, in the original version of GTA five, every third character kind of looks like character before me districts have different color, but there's no real discernible differences. And I think that, you know, AI can be done for that. I think
a lot of they've had, they've had the very well written story about Minecraft and AI going in, but then that's one beating the shit out of everybody else, which makes it kind of boring for somebody else to play, right? Because you don't want to win. Always.
Yeah, I mean, right now, I'd argue that AI is going to be best place to replace the guy who's stuck doing the repetitive tasks, like grass is grass, it can be a different length, different color. But let someone you know, solar rendering
all the creation a bit like filming all the repetitive stuff that went on lighting the stories or creating the game I've got. So it's like,
you know, at some point, we'll have novels and books written entirely by AI. Movies, I was just reading about this behind this actor strike, Justine Bateman used to be family dies, she also posed, she was like, complaining that, you know, in the future, we're going to have a Star Wars movie where your face and your character will be the character and you know, it'll be great, personalized, I don't know, that's exactly what happened. But I do think that sparks of human creativity are for the foreseeable future going to be quite remarkable compared to what AI is able to do. Because AI is learning from us. And you know, it's like with self driving cars and AI, all it takes is one grandmother on the road to ruin the whole algorithm, because she's gonna do something that the cars have never seen before. Right.
Interesting. So we'll take some questions in a moment. But I just wanted to ask you, the kind of you've worked for Chinese companies, right. And living in Thailand, moving from Hong Kong to China, it's interesting, because Thailand has a kind of, as I can see a slight love hate relationship with China, right? Because we want the Chinese tourists we want the Chinese companies, but we're a little bit worried about what they do when they come here. So working with a, you've worked with DJI drones, Alibaba, kind of, like E commerce and games. How do you how do you see Chinese companies going global? Because you know, the Americans are very good at it. The Brits are okay. The tires, as far as I can see, are still learning. Yeah. So how, how are the Chinese and the Chinese, the Japanese kind of in the beginning, screwed up, got a bit too. And then they pulled back and gotten a bit more sensitive. So how do you see this working with Chinese given the kind of geopolitical environment that's going on?
Yeah, I think, you know, starting outside of geopolitics, I have to say, you know, this may sound kind of strange, but you know, my best friend is Chinese. And, you know, I went to his first wedding and didn't go to his second wedding. But he sent my son to him for a summer so he could skip level on Chinese school because his family only spoke Chinese, on a person to person basis, I've never had better colleagues like these, these are some of the hardest working kindness, smartest people I've worked with. When I taught at university, always top 1% of the class at 40 Students would always be like two or three Chinese students, you know, is it just what did they say? Like, if you're, you know, if you're one in a million in China, the slow 1000, just like you, so you have to be really great. And I'd say like Chinese companies kind of exemplify that as well. Now, if it were purely on the basis of who works, the hardest to kind of is determined to win the competitiveness and China's hyper competitive. And I think Chinese companies would bury all other companies because they will just outwork them. They're willing to take these crazy risks every quarter, you know, some of these companies like insurance companies, how long did they take to turn the aircraft carrier around on the grass, you know, something like an ant financial move very quickly, or Wechat pay or whatever it is, you know, like, just, they're willing to try Chinese tech companies are willing to try
here, the dominant ones that Lazada and shopee, both Chinese while shopping in Southeast Asia, mainly Chinese. And they've done a great job. And now there's tick tock. So, so but I heard tick tock had 10 million users in Thailand, which is not bad. Well,
you know, the first question that I get asked at a job interview, and I went to Tencent from the president Tencent games was, why is it never been a global chinese brand? This was just two and a half years ago. And then he asked me, Who has the chance of getting there? So you kind of asked me the same first question, which is, why is there going to go to your friend, DJ, I thought it was an 80% market share, it was a global brand. The problem is technology is not a brand. The problem is that there has to be a somebody behind it. Right? It has to have a company has to have values.
When you say somebody you mean like a Steve Jobs Plus a human being right, because otherwise icon,
an icon. Yeah, I mean, I think Jack Ma was my company, he was an icon, quite close to the sun. You know, that's when geopolitics starts coming to and that's when politics starts to come into it. And I think, therein lies the issue, you know, in America, you know, Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs could never be too big. I think it's a consideration in other countries.
But now in America has gone the other way. Like your your tech leaders are like gods, and you've got Elon Musk, and Zuck, you know, about to fight each other. It's kind of like comedy. You know, it's going a bit nuts, right. Oil family?
I mean, there's still kind of went to fighting, though. You know, I mean, I sort of feel like they're the past, not the future. And you know, but to answer your question more directly, if let's get into the politics of it, I think, you know, it's if it were just up to business, Chinese companies, with men and everything, eventually, the two things are really missing. And I mentioned this earlier, as well that Coca Cola was 50 years old, before it sold a single bottle overseas, Chinese companies are going overseas, you know, we were overseas dancing games, you know, 12 years ago, and the company's just turning 25. So it's one of these things where everything has happened in a very fast telescope kind of way. And I think that what they're lacking in other markets is what they have in China, which is 25 years of experience with customers, their habits, customs, culture, data, they know things about their customers, I think they need time and experience in foreign markets, and they'll be fine there. And then you come to geopolitics. You know, I saw Morgan Stanley just move a bunch of its technologists out of China, because of data laws. The US is restricting certain technology being sold to China. So you know, I'm trying to tread carefully here because I just for you, you
communicate for a Chinese company. So you're, what this is a hard job, things are going on around the world. And you're you're communicating, but luckily, it's an it's in a fun space, right? It's games. So you're not talking about, I guess, payments when you're talking about games. So does it make your job a lot harder to go is? Does the Chinese come in at all? Or it doesn't really matter? It's games, it's well, it's right. It's the it's pub. G is no, it doesn't really matter. I mean, you know, Ubisoft owns lots of games, nobody knows them. I mean, the French.
I mean, it comes back to the same question of 2016. It was a Bloomberg story that led off by saying, the next time you fly your DJI drone in Cincinnati, or something, wherever it was, I can't remember. You know, the authorities in Beijing may be watching your videos and I was like, what, like, at that time, it wasn't even technologically possible for a consumer drone to do that. It may be possible now, but DJI spent a lot of time and I spent a lot of time
the Chinese prefer to send balloons. So fashion and the balloon,
but we spent we spent a lot of time trying to I just want to point out this one thing. Okay, so what data am I sending back? Even if that's technically possible? It's my telemetry data. Unless I'm flying over a nuclear plant, is this going to be relevant to somebody majoring? And if there are 10 million users of this, what are they gonna do with this? This becomes big data, like, maybe you can draw some trend out of it. But I mean, really, what? What is it that they want to know or can pinpoint? And I kind of asked the same question about games when I register, with EA Sports, what data am I giving to EA Sports? I give my credit card number, has my address, maybe my social security number, there's some identity issues, but there's really like nothing. Now there's a
paranoia about data. I mean, I think also there's a paranoia, because if you can't see where that data has been used, you're double paranoid, right? There's a transparency issue. It's just about transparency, your communications guy, right, it's transparent.
And I think to that end, what we say and this is absolutely true, is our servers are offshore. They're in Singapore, they're in other places in the world, we're completely GDPR compliant in the EU, wherever we are in the world, we're not special, we have to comply with those data, privacy or other every other rule as well, decency. You know, we had an issue in Thailand late last year with an advertisement for one of our games, you know, what was that? What was that? It was a big scandal. Yeah, it actually was a bit, it was a live action video that was a little bit too sexy about one of our unmade games, it's been quite successful. You know, in a case like that, it's, you know, you say the same thing, the government had an issue with it, we address the issue, we took the ad down. In other cases, you know, customers will come to us with a complaint, we need to deal with it, you know, same sex marriage, in games, whatever it is, like, it's a reflection of the real world and concerns that people have. And if there are laws, you have to comply with them.
So same sex marriage in games. I haven't played many games that have same sex, marriage and and what what are you talking about?
So there's a game I called on Dawn right now, and you can cohabitate if you're same sex, but you're unable to marry in the game.
So you build like a home. Yeah, but if you want
to get married, if you want to have the certificate, and the recognition and the points in the game, then you need to get married. And you you know, the way the game was developed, it was developed in China, where same sex marriage is not allowed. But the game has gone global. Now, when you go global, this is one of those things you need to really think about, especially if your company is a DVI supporting company, like Tencent is, how do you handle this? You know, and you have to kind of look at it? Do you hyper localize your game? Or do you separate into different regions? Are you you know, for a DI company? How do we feel about you know, what country so you can't have same sex marriage. And this is one of these things where I'm just trying to make the point that we're people, you know, we're not automatons. And I think that this is something that as a company as a group we need to consider. And
if it's interesting, so when you multinationals, you're having to localize the game content to the cultural norm. At that stage, right? It's on different servers, maybe you localize it, but it becomes more complicated.
It's technologically capable, we can do that. But I think it comes down to more of a philosophical issue of what kind of company are you? Or do you want to be? And there were companies that addresses all those
to the American like EA and the French, Ubisoft today adjust their game, to different cultures they go into. I mean, it works.
I think, in the past, they have, but I think that more now, what you're seeing is here is what we stand for, as a company, and our games will reflect us here. So if you don't, you know, there's what they're not. The second half of the budget, I'll say is, if you don't like our game, don't buy it. But you know, that this is who we are. And, you know, I just think I know what I feel personally, but I'm not paid to represent my own personal view. I'm paid to make sure that my company which operates in hundreds of countries around the world is able to do business according to the laws of those countries. And otherwise, it does get political, and you can find something in every country that way.
So let's, let's take some questions from the floor. I can drop the mic down. Mic drop. Any questions? You told me you're gonna have one. You don't have one. I hope this works. Because that was
first of all, just so instructive. And thank you so much. I mean, just a couple of observations. I mean, it's fascinating to me, that we see the permeation of soap, who in the room has seen Extraction 2 to is a very good example. of how large studios are now completely normalizing the game of patient within storytelling, would you not say? I mean?
Can you? Can you explain that? I don't know what
these long leak production shots where it's, it's, it's the game experience where you want the hero on his shoulders riding around. It's a first person shooter.
Yeah, it's an extraction genre. It's become a genre, mile 22. It's like one of the first movies that did that. And they didn't really, nobody really should have grabbed them. It was extraction that sort of kind of made people's eyes light up. And yes, you can have a whole game, because it's basically an ongoing mission, right?
I'm talking about. Chris comes first, yes. And they've shot that film, and to win, almost as against spirits. And that, to me, is a really strong signal that this is a normalization of the recognition that maybe is completely socialized. Secondly, just an observation, which is that gaming is so it's a small world, it's a small word. But it's so hard for giant, other giants like it's it's so particular, so fixates of your biggest stake within the business is very different from a lot of other publishers. And I think the challenge to, to bring it to the foreground of marketing is to explain just how you want all of the various genres and platforms are, and how they fit in to the consumers. Daily, recreational time, right.
Yeah, I mean, I feel like you're thinking a lot about it more than we do. I mean, I can, because, you know, there's no sort of central nerve center where we think like that, it's each studio kind of producing games that it thinks are cool. So we let you guys build that whole ecosystem around the actual kernel of content.
Right, but in order to fully consistent profit, there needs to be, I believe, some organization and marketing that assembles where it all sits within a generation Gen Z, marketing strategy. This is where my
dad bless people like United Seriously, that's, I'm not trying to be funny. It's, I sort of feel like the long tail of what we do doesn't come from the creation of the game. It comes from the players, it comes from the industry that spots the opportunities that we can capitalize on, it feels
a very siloed industry, would you agree?
It totally is. I think, you know, it's siloed. Like, a lot of things are, you know, some people like cricket, some people don't like cricket. I personally don't understand how it works. But But I would say that, you see, you have that sideline, you have male female tendencies, you have age differences, you have genre differences for games, you have linguistic things cultural. So I mean, it's always kind of been that way. I think it's actually less siloed today than it's ever been, you know, I listened to my son playing Call of Duty a few years ago with some kid in Riyadh. And he was also speaking, broken French with somebody, you know, somebody in Japan, so it just, I don't know, I feel like when I was asked that question, why is it never been gold, James Brown will make it have a feeling it's either gonna be tick tock or Tencent, because video. And games are two things that are sort of universal. You use them slightly differently, but you use them together with other people. And that's kind of a prerequisite it. It kind of knocks down those silos in those walls.
Any other questions? Yeah. Can you come over so I don't I don't drop titles for tomato ketchup or whatever.
What's your name? I'm Jason. And my question is regarding your opinions on the metaverse. Now, specifically, you said there is a future for Metaverse do you mean Manos adipose or more as an abstract concept and how you feel open source not only has to reflect that, as open standards as coming out Okay.
So I sort of feel like as Metaverse is a little garbagey, it's spinning up kind of everything is when it starts. You know, I guess my issue is more. So I'm talking about it more generally, because I think that anything that looks to build the destination is the wrong approach to it right now, it's about that journey that you want to take to get there. And, you know, once you close it off, I think you're kind of forcing people into your world. And you do that, because you want to get to advertisers, marketers want to build something. But when you start by closing it off, walling it off and making it proprietary, I'm sort of against that, I think open source generally doesn't work. By itself, you have lots of people who are creating lots of things. But there's sort of, kind of, there's no central nerve center. So I'm a big believer in kind of open standards, but then sort of settling on what works best for everybody, or make sure that they interconnect or inter operable. So ultimately, I don't know my own vision is at some point, when the hardware is light enough to wear when there's enough content in there, when there's enough of an installed base, it all sort of won't matter whether your glasses are from this company, or that company, or whether they're red or blue, or whatever your on ramp is, they'll be things that you'll want to do in there, like visit your bank, play a game, go visit a friend, I think it's just you know, it's probably not going to be just what Mark Zuckerberg thinks it is right now, or his
name interesting. The people who designed all of these lenses are not the gaming companies, it's Microsoft, it's apple. It's not the people who tell the game stories, who designed the game experience. It's people trying to sell devices that lock you into the ecosystem?
Well, first of all, hardware is a really hard business, because, you know, like, you know, for DJI a new drone, it costs half a billion dollars to come up with new technology. So, you know, for gigantic companies, that's a rounding error for small companies, smaller companies, that's like, you know, a quarter of the revenue. So you have to really, every time you go into a new product line is very capital intensive, I would say. So it's not, it's a lot cheaper to do hardware software than it is hardware, you can get a lot more bang for your buck. But the other part of it is, I mean, what do you think Apple's doing with its $3,500 glasses right now, you know, puts it out there, at a price where it knows that develop developers or companies are going to buy it, and they're going to start to create ecosystem. And you'll be just like the iPhone, you know, by the time you get to number five, or number six of the classes, you'll have, you know, 25,000 or 30,000 things you can do in their pieces of
content on the studios on the 10 cent designing for for those kinds of incoherencies
Already this code? I mean, the short answer is, it's yes. You know, there were some things going on. But but you know, in the shadow back, one of our studios, next is always the next Studios is always at the cutting edge of technology, as the name would imply. But I also think that it's more just, yeah, like, you know, we could have had this conversation back when those those reel to reel tapes are running and say, like, you know, when they come out with a computer, will they do this? I just think that we always will find a way to program and develop for whatever platform it is.
Cool. Any more questions? I just
want to say that Thailand being one of the more it's quite interesting compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, so from your point of view, and also context, and what maybe is interesting,
just in case people didn't hear it, so sorry, your name? Jen. What makes Thailand interesting from a game marketing game kind of experience? So market
point of view, so considering the market size, it punches above its weight,
market size is what you said? 30 million young players? So out of a population of 70
Yeah, that's, that's a lot. That's a lot of game players
that like proportionately more than other countries, or is it quite standard?
It's also to put it into perspective, talents and 19th largest game market in the world. Us as the largest. That's pretty remarkable, because it's, it's, I mean, it's not it's smaller than Germany, you know, timelines a smaller country than Germany. But the fact that it's so diverse, the fact that there's more and more disposable income coming into the economy. The fact that we have female gamers here, not just middle gamers here. It's it's exciting because it is sort of picks up on a lot of different genres. I mean, the sort of three most popular games here whether they have GM.
GM is Battle Royale, right? You're on it. Yeah.
Yeah. And then there's another one is arena valor, which may also had something to do it. And then free Fire and it's kind of like those, those are the ones for Esports the eSports games and I thought what
genres the other two?
Insane, okay. And first person first person Yeah, hopefully before I forget one thing about Thailand that also was really surprising to me is not just that it was number 19 in the world. It said, some of the largest prizes for Esports competitions were here. And that was something that I kind of came up with. And while I was researching this talk today, and I was actually going to kind of ask you, where does this money come from?
Cisco. Tom, where does the money come from? sponsorships for big companies like Lenovo. Lenovo. Is it? Is it international companies? You're saying like eSports tournaments? Like
the prize pools are quite large.
Give me a number. Well, I mean, 200,000. Us?
So a million is not out of the question. Which currency
dollars US dollar million US dollars for the top prize?
Well, total pot out of the question. And for that, you have to be chasing a lot of sponsors. I mean, one thing that I noticed as I travel around the city last I've just been here for like, less than a day and a half is there's so many brands for so many different countries here. And it's just all part of the economy here. And it just it feels like Thailand sucks in a lot of different things, different platforms, different games, different genres, different brands, the only thing they have is the hair wax. On a certain brand,
does that answer your question? I mean, living here three months, I can tell you, the distance in this city makes people like I think it will just look locally for entertainment. So the idea of going to like places that entertainment here is shopping malls or so people any kind of Esports tournament, anything like that would represent a very different experience than you know, getting involved in it. Being able to extend that into a wider community is quite interesting. Anyway, all right. So no more questions. Knowledge is actually here on holiday. So I nabbed him away. So he's gonna hang around for a few more drinks. So please, warm round of applause and say thank you thank you, to Tom for hosting us. If you're ever looking for a place to have a drink, you know, what is it