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. <<