July 21, 2023

Listen to Adam Najberg talking the future of video games

I had the pleasure of interviewing / grilling Adam "Naj" Najberg, the Head of Comms and Content for Tencent Games Global, at an impromptu Web Wednesday in Bangkok on July 19th, 2023. 

If you missed it or want to review his revelations - some real gems! - then listen to the unedited audio recording below. The transcript is provided by the AI algorithms of Otter.ai. [Warning: like all AIs, it's not 100% correct and may occasionally hallucinate. But the repartee remained witty and human!]. 


Summary (With links to specific sections)

  • Introduction to Naj 0:00

  • Transition from journalist to PR exec. 1:17

    • Working for Chinese tech companies.

    • How an American journalist ended up working for Chinese tech companies.

  • What does he do in Tencent Games?

  • The rise and fall of mobile gaming.

  • The evolution of the mobile gaming community.

  • Looking at the market in Southeast Asia. 8:22

    • Thailand is a promising market.

    • Mobile games are diverse.

  • How many of you play games? 10:41

    • Interoperability is critical for the metaverse.

    • The demographics of gaming in China.

    • Why big gaming companies didn't see the metaverse coming.

    • The problem with fads.

    • The difference between chance and games of chance.

    • Tencent is experimenting with digital currency.

  • The concept of Games as a Service. 17:00

    • Tencent's investment in China.

    • Breaking down the walls between Microsoft and Sony.

    • Games as a Service, EA.

  • Getting caught up in the excitement. 22:54

    • Getting caught up in the excitement of esports.

    • Brands getting into esports.

    • Selling to Gen Z players and brands.

    • Authenticity and future proofing the business.

  • How to place ads in a game? 25:52

    • The catch 22 of big brands.

    • Partnerships and advertising.

    • Using game streamers to engage the community.

    • The gaming world getting carried away with AI.

  • AI for games is a thing. 31:11

    • AI for GTA 5.

  • Working for Chinese companies. 33:40

    • Working for Chinese companies and living in China.

    • Challenges of working with Chinese authorities.

    • Big data and privacy.

    • Same sex marriage in games.

    • How to deal with cultural norms.

  • Observations on how large movie studios are normalizing video games. 44:36

    • The gaming industry is a small world.

    • Building an ecosystem around the kernel of content.

    • The siloed industry of video games.

    • What makes Thailand interesting as a video gaming market? 51:39

      • Why hardware is a hard business.

      • The Next studio is always at the cutting edge.

      • Thailand is the 19th largest game market.

      • The money comes from sponsorships for big companies like Lenovo.

  • July 17, 2023

    Tencent Games talks GaaS at WebWedsBKK

    Have you heard of  PUBG Mobile, the second most played video game of all time? Owned by Tencent Games, it has grossed over US$9bn from 1.3bn downloads!

    Adam "Naj" Najberg, their Global Head of Comms and Content is parachuting into Bangkok this week to speak at a very impromptu Web Wednesday gathering at 4-6pm on Wednesday 19th July, 2023

    In our fireside chat, some of the topics we will cover include:

    • How Naj built a career in global communications for Chinese tech companies?
    • Lessons that he's learnt along the way and what he'd do differently?
    • How Chinese multinationals are adjusting to a slowing economy in an increasingly politically-divided world? 
    • The launch of Tencent's new games-as-a-service ("GaaS") platform, "Level Infinite", and how it will change the mobile gaming landscape?
    • How innovative partnerships, like "PUBG Mobile and HEARTROCKER" rocked the Thai gaming world? 
    • The role of Thai celebrities, Nicky Nachat and Mai Davika, in their game marketing
    • Why Tencent Games never got into Web3, NFTs and the Metaverse, outside of China?
    • Does he fear / embrace AI? 

    Pre-register here to join us at Propaganda bar, Sukhumvit Soi 33 (BTS Phrom Phong) - Find your way on Google Maps and/or follow my video instructions on Instagram.

    As well as delving into the challenges facing multinational Chinese brands, Naj and I will discuss the launch of Tencent's new global brand, "Level Infinite", which primarily offers games-as-a-service ("GaaS") focusing on free or cheap downloads with in-game purchases. The content is more episodic and faster to market. Here's the initial teaser video...

    Thailand is a promising market for video gaming, with 30 million players nationwide and overall revenues topping US$1 billion last year. Naj sees Thailand as an intriguing SE Asia market due to disposable income growth, but also the diversity of players. In most countries, they see predominant tendencies toward mobile, PC or console. Thailand urban dwellers polled at 95% for claiming to play mobile games, but nearly 85% play on PC and almost 70% also play on consoles. Few other markets show the same diversity.

    Tencent successfully launched "NIKKE: Goddess of Victory" in Thailand in 2022, although they had to later apologise for an overly explicit ad. [Just more free PR!]

    Thailand's super-creative streak also places the  country high on Tencent's list of innovative partnerships, like this one between leading game streamer 'Aek HEARTROCKER’ and PUGB Mobile, with voicing and special items provided by Nicky Nachat and Mai Davika. Watch the promo video below to discover why their weapons of choice are frying pans - it's a bundle of laughs!

    Naj started off his working life at The Wall Street Journal and has led communications for China's leading global technology companies, including Shenzhen DJI, Alibaba Group and now, Tencent. He has also written a book, a guide to "Jumpstarting Your Career", and completed a full-length indie documentary, "Out of Reach: The Struggle for the American Dream".

    Venue: Propaganda Bar, Sukhumvit Soi 33 (BTS Phrom Phong) - Find your way on Google Maps
    Date: Wednesday 19th July, 2023 
    Time: Networking from 4pm, interview at 4:30pm

     >> Entrance is complimentary but space is limited. Register now via this link. <<

    May 12, 2023

    Retail Recharged by King Bailey of KPMG

    Apologies for the short notice but we've just got wind of a visit to Bangkok by globally-renowned networking king, Anson Bailey (eMBA), Head of Consumer & Retail for KPMG in APAC (official profile). 

    Anson is here to impress the need for rapid re-invention of the retail experience upon the crème de la crème of the business class in Thailand. Leveraging an age-old friendship, I have managed to entice him away from a full week of meetings with the C-suite of all the big retail, shopping mall and real estate players to share his insights with the budding Web Wednesday community in Bangkok. 

    In late 2022, KPMG released a report on the post-Covid consumer, called "Retail Recharged, Engaging Consumers with Technology, Purpose and Trust". Even if you are not addressing the Chinese consumer in Hong Kong or Mainland China (many of us do so overseas), it is worth the read and is available for download.

    Some sample findings on the usage of AI and other immersive experiences. (It only covers Chinese consumers but I believe will parlay to a certain extend across Asia).

    Knowing that Anson is at the forefront of the retail (r)evolution, I plan to ask for his enlightenment (aka "grill him") on various topics, including: 
    • How can these learnings be applied to the Thai market?
    • How to engage Gen Z and the post-Covid consumer?
    • Retail in the Age of AI, how are brands enticing, educating and converting shoppers? 
    • What new use cases are emerging? 
    • What's working where? What's not? 
    • What are the risks? 
    • Who are the leaders? 
    • China vs SEA vs US vs EY?
    It's going to be a fun, interactive and educational fireside chat so do join us!

    Venue: Propaganda Bar, Sukhumvit Soi 33 (BTS Phrom Phong) - Find your way on Google Maps.
    Date: Tuesday 16th May 2023 (Note - this is NOT a Wednesday. Had to adapt to King Bailey's schedule!)
    Time: Doors open at 4:30pm, interview 5-6pm

    >> Entrance is complimentary but space is limited. Register now via this link. <<

    (Apologies for content repetition as we're promoting via various channels).

    April 20, 2023

    Bobak of Brilliant Labs Speaks at Web Weds Bangkok

     Brilliant Labs at Web Weds BKK

    Napoleon Biggs, founder of the renowned digital innovation community, "Web Wednesday", is back in Bangkok and has invited a true tech pioneer to share his experiences.

    Join us for a truly intelligently-augmented evening with Bobak Tavangar, CEO of Brilliant Labs, an ex-Apple product lead who has recently launched a hackable #augmentedreality device, the "Monocle". 

    Not only has he built a wearable smart lens that is on track to generate over US$1M in revenue this year but, by open sourcing the software, hackers all over the world are imagineering all kinds of use cases.

    Super smart geeks from Stanford University have just combined the powers of ChatGPT with Monocle to create a "personal AI agent delivered directly through AR smart glasses 👓. it uses computer vision to 👁️recognize👁️ a friend’s face, then brings up relevant topics based on your recent texts messages (memory🤯)". Watch the hack in action here.

    Later this year, Bobak will release "Frame", the thinnest, lightest pair of AR glasses in the world!

    We will discuss his path to innovation, how he remotely built out the team and product under Covid lockdowns and how he is adeptly using collaboration platforms, like GitHub and Discord, to engage an active community of engineers and early adopters, without spending a penny on marketing!

    Our generous hosts for this event are Propaganda Bar who have created a special cocktail for the event; come sip on a glass of "Monocle" or two!

    Venue: Propaganda Bar, Sukhumvit Soi 33 (BTS Phrom Phong) - Find your way on Google Maps.

    Date: Wednesday 26th April 2023

    Time: Networking from 5pm, interview at 5:30pm

    >> Entrance is complimentary but space is limited. Register now via this link. <<

    (Apologies for content repetition as we're promoting via various channels).