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EXECUTIVE Q&A: ASIASOFT LOOKS BEYOND GAMING TO USE REGIONAL STRENGTHS

BackMay 09, 2014

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Strong infrastructure will allow Asiasoft to add new internet-based entertainment
and services at low cost, says Mr Pramoth.

Asiasoft Corporation Plc is a leading digital online entertainment company in Southeast Asia with a dominant market share in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia and a strong presence in Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. Pramoth Sudjitporn, vice-chairman and CEO, talks about the company's strategy and outlook.

What is Asiasoft's business model?

Asiasoft provides internet content and services, partnering with global developers to distribute their content across Southeast Asia. Over the past decade we have serviced online games in MMORP (massively multiplayer online role-playing), casual, FPS (first-person shooter) and Web-based formats and currently operate 56 online games in six countries.

In the future we will transition to a wider portfolio of products and services that encompass gaming and non-gaming products and services for internet users in Southeast Asia.

Can you explain the transition for Asiasoft from a Thailand-only business to covering Southeast Asia?

The most successful internet businesses need a large scale and network; it's a basic theory of doing business online. The number of subscribers, the number of potential customers, needs to be as big as possible.

Based on this we took the strategic decision over the past decade to expand throughout Southeast Asia as each country in the region has similar cultures and habits, and with a population of 600 million, it is half the size of China and thus a huge market opportunity. We began in Singapore and Malaysia, and more recently in the Philippines, and we have the ability to provide our content in Indonesia as well.

Today, when a developer looks for a distribution partner in Southeast Asia, Asiasoft is among the top choices because we provide a single window of contact, a regional market, local market knowledge, product engagement and the speed to market a developer's products or services to more than 80 million subscribers.

What impact has technology and a shift to gaming on mobile devices had on the industry?

People's habits have changed over the past few years with the advent of mobile technology and there are both positives and negatives to the change. On the negative side there are now more devices and platforms for which each product has to be designed. A game or service has to be friendly to the touch of a finger on a tablet or a phone, and still user-friendly to those using a mouse-and-keyboard combination on a computer.

However, on the positive side, I can see more new gamers being born on this planet; it's become a part of the lifestyle. These days when people use technology they check their messages, update their social status, review their e-mails, and after all this they entertain themselves either via playing games or reading news, blogs, fashion and sports. It is this area that we are targeting in the future, whether it be pure gaming entertainment, education, or services.

What differentiates Asiasoft from its competitors?

We have a few key intangible assets. Currently we have 80 million registered users in Southeast Asia, which took us 10 years to acquire, but now we target 150 million customers over the next three years because we already have a very strong infrastructure that is ready to serve any internet content. People can log in and use our services without us incurring any additional costs.

We also have 1,000 employees across the region who are ready to serve our developer customers and users. If you look at how we performed last year, despite zero successful launches, our revenue declined only 15%. Thus, if we have a successful launch of one game or product in just one or two of the countries we are situated in, our revenues can increase 50% within a year.

What are the biggest risks facing your business today?

The main question we ask is how quickly can we adapt to changes in the market. I believe this is on the mind of every internet company, whether it is product- or services-related, as this industry changes very quickly. What was popular two or three years ago is not popular today. You remember when everyone used to be on Hotmail or MSN Messenger, then more recently Tango and Viber, but they are losing traction. So what will happen to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Line in the next two or three years?

What impact do you think the Asean Economic Community will have upon your business?

I only see a positive impact from the AEC, given that we are a regional company already. We are hoping to see more friendly laws and regulations as we in Southeast Asia will be operating as one community.

Where do you see Asiasoft in five years from now?

Five years is a long time in the internet services and products business as things change very rapidly. However, our strategy remains the same even though the roadmap may evolve along the way. We want to grow within Southeast Asia, one team for one market, and provide the same services to a 600-million population.

siasoft aims to have the largest customer base for internet users in Southeast Asia and our portfolio will expand from gaming entertainment to be a 50:50 split between gaming and non-gaming internet services.

The Executive Q&A Series is presented by ShareInvestor, Asia's leading financial internet media and technology company and the largest investor relations network in the region, with more than 500 listed clients. This interview was conducted by ShareInvestor. For more information, e-mail admin.th@shareinvestor.com or visit www.shareinvestorthailand.com

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