For 5 years, MLBB (Mobile Legends: Bang Bang) has dominated the Indonesian gaming market. This is by no means a small feat.
Mobile games usually have a shorter lifespan, and the Indonesian gaming market is not an easy market to conquer. Sure, this market has the 4th biggest potential users worldwide, but it has many challenges, such as regulation, market diversity, internet infrastructure, and low buying power.
So how has Mobile Legends been able to dominate the Indonesian gaming market?
Before we delve deeper, let me provide some background to justify my opinion. I have been working in the Indonesian gaming industry for 15 years, starting with a printed gaming magazine in 2008. Also, I have been involved in many projects related to MLBB, including MPL (Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League) Indonesia, MWI (Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Women’s Invitational), Pesta Mabar AllStar MLBB, and running performance marketing (CPI/CPA) for MLBB even before it changed its name. Let’s just say, I know a thing or two about the gaming market in Indonesia.
With that out of the way, let’s get started.
I’m pretty sure everyone in marketing knows about 360 marketing. However, knowing and doing it correctly are two different things.
The most obvious thing for a game publisher to do is performance marketing. Moonton has been doing this constantly throughout the years. I remember running the CPA (Cost per Activation) campaign for Mobile Legends when I worked for a third-party app marketplace. Back then, MLBB was one of the most frequent campaigns that I had to run – at least according to my boss at the time. Even now, although less frequent than before, I still occasionally see MLBB on incentive ads or other performance marketing platforms.
Even though it’s obvious, and almost all game publishers do it, I want to mention performance marketing in this article because I do believe it’s still working. However, it is not perfect and should not be the only marketing strategy. Since performance marketing is based on CPI or CPA, the ad can be misleading. There is a possibility that the agency running the performance marketing does not care too much about the product and its surrounding components since it only wants to get paid as soon and as much as possible.
That is where the other channels of marketing come in. Personally, KOLs or influencers, media, social media, and community are equally important to performance marketing.
A week ago, my high school teacher called me out of the blue. She was asked by the Ministry of Communication and Information to give a workshop on the topic, “How to Play Games Wisely and Responsibly.” She asked me to give some pointers and mention some current popular games in Indonesia to be discussed in the workshop. I mentioned MLBB, Free Fire, Genshin Impact, and VALORANT. Among those popular games, my teacher recognized only MLBB. It is worth noting that my high school is in a truly small town, and my teacher knows nothing about gaming. However, she knows MLBB.
I am willing to bet that if you ask random people in Indonesia from any background, 90% of those people would know what “Mobile Legends” is. This level of awareness would not be possible from performance marketing alone due to targeting system limitations or how CPI/CPA works.
Check out my other article: The Global Mobile Gaming Market Predicted to Reach US$165.88 billion in 2027
In the previous section, I mentioned the media, but I believe that brands and companies often underestimate its power. Media is usually given a low priority in marketing strategies, or even skipped entirely. However, Moonton understands the importance of having media on its side.
For the Indonesian gaming market on the internet, “Mobile Legends” has been the number one keyword for years. Who is responsible for this? I would say the media plays one of the most critical roles because online media is now entangled with search engines.
Most people in marketing underestimate the media because they don’t understand how it works. You can’t rely on just one media outlet or even one article to make an impact. You need to work with many media outlets to influence trends.
Some people say that this is too expensive, but I disagree. I spent most of my professional career in the media, and I know how to approach it differently than most people in marketing. If you’re interested, contact me, and let’s grab coffee together. Hahaha…
Selling Real Dreams
I’m listing these topics randomly because I believe they are all equally important, including this one.
This section is closely related to the community, influencers, and UGC (User Generated Content). However, the key to success lies in how effectively you can sell real dreams.
I know many veteran MLBB shoutcasters and pro players, even before they became famous. I can confidently say that MLBB single-handedly changed their lives. Of course, they still needed to work hard, but MLBB gave them the stages to become celebrities.
Let’s take JessNoLimit, for example. As of writing, he is ranked 4th among Indonesian YouTubers with the most subscribers. He achieved this mostly through Mobile Legends content. One rank above him is Frost Diamond, who is also in the gaming topic but is not focused on one game. The top two YouTubers are in the entertainment topic, which has a much bigger market potential.
This is why I believe that MLBB can sell real dreams. Many content creators and streamers from Indonesia owe their popularity to MLBB. Not many games can offer the same level of dream selling as MLBB in Indonesia.
Looking at the wider market, there are other successful products that sell real dreams, such as YouTube, TikTok, or even League of Legends. Hope and dreams are the most powerful drivers and marketing tools.
Last but not least, I feel it’s worth mentioning that no matter how great your marketing strategy is, you can’t dominate the market for long without a product that fits the market’s needs.
Even though I personally love PC gaming, MLBB is one of the mobile games that I admire as a product. The development team works endlessly, not just to put new content but also to revamp old content. Balancing a MOBA game is hell for the developers, as it requires a tremendous amount of persistence from testing the build combinations, listening to the community, and creating business opportunities.
However, I believe that the MOBA genre is also one of the reasons why MLBB has remained successful. While it’s technically challenging to develop and maintain, the MOBA genre has greater potential to last longer and cultivate an ecosystem, such as its esports and content creators.
Finally, even though it has been great for Mobile Legends in Indonesian gaming market so far, and Moonton has been doing it very well from marketing to product development, I think it’s currently facing an unprecedented challenge. It has reached maximum awareness for the Indonesian market, meaning it could very well be stuck in their growth in terms of new users or even declining in the active users number.
It is interesting to see how Moonton could navigate this new challenge. I may have some ideas, but perhaps I could share them another time.