A Life Less Analog, Gaming

Esports startup in SG gains advertising heavyweights

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Esports is huge. But just how big is it? Well, big enough to convince two advertising veterans from the BBH Singapore leadership team to join esports startup yup.gg as C-level executives.

Embarking on an exciting new adventure in esports is BBH Singapore Managing Director David Webster, who is now the Chief Commercial Officer of yup.gg. Joining him is BBH Managing Partner and former Red Bull executive Tim Lindley as the esports startup’s Chief Experience Officer.

From advertising to esports

Esports startup yup.gg helps brands understand and connect with gaming audiences
Esports startup yup.gg helps brands understand and connect with gaming audiences

Singapore-based gaming and esports marketplace yup.gg connects brands with esports and gaming audiences in Asia Pacific and Latin America. The esports startup allows brands to easily reach millennials and Gen Z audiences, through partnerships with streamers, professional gaming teams, tournaments and events organizers, and game publishers.

A 14-year veteran at BBH, Webster moved from London to the Singapore office 12 years ago. As BBH Singapore’s Managing Director and Chief Growth Officer, he has led global and Asia Pacific accounts for clients such as Nike, Samsung, and League of Legends developer and publisher Riot Games.

Meanwhile, as BBH Singapore’s Managing Partner and Global Head of Content, Lindley worked with Nike, Samsung, Riot Games, Sentosa, and YouTube. He also spent seven years at Red Bull prior to joining BBH.

Both Webster and Lindley cited the tremendous potential of esports and the opportunity to create genuine value for the whole ecosystem.

“While the scale and opportunity in esports and gaming is there, with yup.gg’s marketplace approach we hope to bring a new level of transparency and trust to the industry that will give brands the confidence to enter or level up their investments in this space,” Webster said in a press statement.

How gaming and esports can help brands

Advertising veterans David Webster (bottom row, left) and Tim Lindley (bottom row, center) are now part of the esports startup's executive team
Advertising veterans David Webster (bottom row, left) and Tim Lindley (bottom row, center) are now part of the esports startup’s executive team

The potential of gaming for advertising has always been there. Remember when advergaming was a buzzword back in the 2000s? Even esports has been around for a long time. I even covered the World Cyber Games 2005 Grand Final in Singapore on November 16-20, 2005 back when I was the editor of INQ7.net’s (now called INQUIRER.net) hackenslash gaming news site.

The big difference, however, is that gaming and esports have become even more mainstream, smartphones and other mobile devices are ubiquitous, and geek culture has taken over the world. And since gaming is one of the favorite activities of millennials and Gen Z, brands can’t afford to ignore it.

This is where a platform like yup.gg comes in handy, and why it makes sense for advertising veterans like Webster and Lindley to bridge the world of advertising and esports.

“I have witnessed first-hand how effective gaming and esports marketing can be. I also remember how difficult it can be to navigate this complex and fragmented ecosystem for the first time. I hope to simplify the way marketers access audiences through gaming and esports, and bring some rigour to the way these activities are executed and measured,” Lindley said.

Making esports more mainstream

(L-R) yup.gg CFO and Co-Founder Nic Khoo, yup.gg CEO and Co-Founder Raiford Cockfield III, 108 Media CEO Abhi Rastogi, and 108 Media President - Production/Development Justin Deimen
(L-R) yup.gg CFO and Co-Founder Nic Khoo, yup.gg CEO and Co-Founder Raiford Cockfield III, 108 Media CEO Abhi Rastogi, and 108 Media President – Production/Development Justin Deimen

As I previously posted on our Digital Life Asia Facebook page, yup.gg has also joined forces with global IP agency 108 Media for a gaming and esports reality TV show called “Asia’s Got Game”. Set to launch in the second quarter of this year, “Asia’s Got Game” is touted as the world’s first TV and digital reality competition show to find Asia’s next great gamer.

As a gamer who has also covered the gaming industry for many years as a journalist, I am very happy with the phenomenal growth of esports. In the Philippines, esports has also taken a giant leap with the launch of the country’s largest esports program. This interschool program will initially engage more than 1,000 teams from over 200 schools.

Asia leading the way in global gaming

If you’re still wondering why esports is a big deal, maybe these figures will show you the big picture. The gaming and esports industry is already bigger than the film and music industries combined, with revenues forecast to grow from US$152 billion in 2019 to US$164 billion in 2020, based on the Newzoo Global Games Market Report 2019.

And yes, Asia is leading the way. The Asia Pacific has 1.3 billion gamers, and our region accounts for 48% of the global gaming total industry revenue and a whopping 64% of mobile gaming revenue.

No wonder esports startup yup.gg hired the two advertising veterans as part of its plans to expand across the region.

“We are excited to add David and Tim to the yup.gg team and look forward to leveraging their experience providing unique marketing solutions to top brands in the world, to our core knowledge of gaming and esports community-building and content monetization,” said yup.gg CEO and Co-Founder Rai Cockfield.

The author with yup.gg CFO and Co-Founder Nic Khoo
The author with yup.gg CFO and Co-Founder Nic Khoo

I’m also happy to note that yup.gg CFO and Co-Founder Nic Khoo happens to be my fellow former tech blogger at the sadly defunct CNET Asia. We saw each other again after over a decade at the inauguration of the new corporate headquarters of Manila-based esports pioneer Mineski Global. Small world, huh?

So, until the next edition of A Life Less Analog, keep on playing. And remember, everyone is a gamer. They just don’t know it yet!