Last October, Red 5 opened up a Singapore branch that will handle Southeast Asia game operations and R&D activity for the upcoming free-to-play shooter Firefall. Recently, Red 5 Singapore announced its new licensing and distribution partner in the region: online gaming platform provider Garena.
The agreement between the two companies will last for six years where Garena will pay the company $23 million with royalties for the exclusive right to distribute the title in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan.
According to Red 5 Singapore's vice president Tony Park, the reason the company picked Garena for distribution rights was that it had shown its capability in Southeast Asia and had been successful in handling games (specifically League of Legends and Blackshot) and their social networking aspects and acquiring many users with account manager Garena Plus.
When asked about Garena's initiative in pushing the game out after its soft launch within the aforementioned regions in December, Garena CEO Forrest Li said that he can only talk about it in a later stage. According to Li, the main reason he was drawn to the new IP was because of its e-sports flavor and League of Legends-like potential. He also added that Firefall will not be cannibalizing Garena's Blackshot, as the titles are different in terms of graphics, gameplay, and massively multiplayer online features.
Li mentioned that the $23 million deal covers the operation costs, customer service, localization, events promotion, and tournaments. Park added that in terms of the game's branding and analyzing customer database, Red 5 Singapore will be working closely with Garena, especially in the e-sports circuit. "The reason the e-sports element of games don't work is because each publishers have different ideas for locally distributed titles that conflict with other publishers' ideas in a different region of the same title."
Li stated that this is the largest licensing deal ever done in Southeast Asia, saying, "[The amount given] shows our commitment to cultivate the market and confidence in the brand and consumer support in the region." When asked about the risk of the new IP failing given that a similar deal like this was done by IAHGames with Hellgate: London back in 2007, he called that an apples-and-oranges comparison given the differences between both titles. "We have seen how deep and innovative the content would be in Firefall. It's not just a game where [your avatar] looks very awesome from the outside. Towards the launch time of the title, gamers will get to see more and judge for themselves."
Park also said that the recent beta reception has been positive. "In the US, we had finished the fourth beta test and had 2,000 players participating in it. The past three betas had problems, but we managed to eliminate most of the problems in the recent test." He also added that there will be a fifth beta test coming soon. "We haven't decided the scale of the next test, but we will announce more details in December."