Garena company, which is headquartered in Singapore, is a gaming company that develops online games as well as publishes many free online games. Garena Limited, which was founded in the year 2009, is a key subsidiary of Sea Limited company. Sea Limited, which was formerly named Garena, is the parent company of Garena currently, and Garena company is a digital entertainment arm of this company. The Garena company is one of the leading game developer and publisher companies in the world, and it publishes and distributes game titles of Garena+ in many countries across South & Southeast Asia and Taiwan. The major popular games that come under the list of the major success of Garena company include Point Blank (which was a first-person shooter game), Speed Drifters (it is a mobile racing game), Arena of Valor (is a mobile MOBA game), FIFA Online 3 (one of the most popular online soccer or football game), Heroes of Newrth, League of Legends, many Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games, and many other games also. One of the most popular online games released under the Garena+ title was Garena Free Fire, which was released in May 2017, and this game had a record-breaking daily active user count of 80 million as of May 2020.
Early Development and Foundation
There was a startup based on gaming known as GGame, which was popular before Garena company was founded. The GGame gaming startup was based on the gaming platform that provides an online real-time gaming platform for all its users (gaming players) across Asia and Europe to connect with each other through their platform and participate in online games & can have a real-time gaming experience together. After the completion of his Master's degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Stanford University, the founder of Garena, Forrest Li, joined the GGame startup, and there, he worked with Chen Ou, who was his fellow Stanford University alumni. After working with Forrest Li in the GGame startup for a couple of years, Chen Ou finally exited the company by selling his total stake in the company (which was around 35%) for USD 700,000. After the exit of Chen Ou, Forrest Li was the major stakeholder in the startup, and he was then alone managing the business of the company. While he was single-handedly managing the business of the GGame startup, Li pivoted the short-lived venture to focus on game publishing and online game development for the larger development of the startup. After a couple of years of managing all the company's business single-handedly, Forrest Li finally focussed on creating a new gaming development and publisher brand in the online gaming market, and at that point, he decided to change the name of the startup. In the year 2009, Forrest Li finally changed the name of the gaming startup from GGame to Garena, and that's how he officially founded the Garena company in the year 2009.
Further Gaming Developments in the Company
After the foundation of Garena in the year 2009, the founder became more oriented toward online game publishing and the development of new online games. But the one thing that always lacked during the development phase of Garena games was its publishing rights which allowed its competitors to publish much similar or even better games by pirating their software. The competitors of Garena company were able to do this without having any trouble because the company did not have the publishing rights of their games at that time. This was becoming a point of concern for Forrest Li (founder) and the company's growth. To cope with this situation, the company finally decided that they would start publishing rights for their online published games so that no other competitor in the gaming market would be able to steal their ideas or pirate their gaming software. The company started to file petitions for patents of the online games published and developed by them and got successful after a few months.
In 2011, it was the first time that Garena company announced that it would be distributing the publishing rights for its team-based shooter game, Firefall, in the November month. The company first announced its publishing rights in Taiwan and many Southeast Asian countries. In the meanwhile, the company also announced that it would be collaborating with many other game developers for the development of many new online games having the latest features in-built into the game. The company very soon also started implementing its action plan of collaboration with other gaming developers, and in the same year, December 2011, Garena officially announced its collaboration with the Changyou (one of the biggest online game developers at that time). In its official statement of December 2011, the company stated that it was collaborating with one of the biggest and most renowned game developers, Changyou, for operating and publishing the Duke of Mount Deer (the most popular 3D martial arts game at that time) in Taiwan. This 3D martial arts game from the company was one of the most popular 3D games at that time, and the first game of the company was published under the segment of Garena+. Duke of Mount Deer was also the first MMORPG online game that was available in Taiwan through the Garena+ segment and got so much hyped in the country.
This 3D martial arts game is the combination of a real and classical Chinese story of a deer in the wild and the latest cinematic quality graphics and 3D rendering technology (which was also a very new concept at that time). Actually, the Duke of Mount Deer was not the creation of a single game developer, but the credit for the development of this popular 3D martial arts game goes to several top game developers and online gaming experts from both China and South Korea. Apart from Taiwan, this game also gained so much popularity in China and many other Southeast Asian countries. The same month in which the company launched this 3D martial arts game, Garena also introduced the "Dominion" gaming mode for its League of Legends players (an online multiplayer game) in Malaysia and Singapore.
The company later, in the next year, officially launched the first product from the Garena+ segment, and it was an online social and gaming platform for all Garena's gamers (users). On this platform of Garena+, all the users of Garena can connect to play, download, and discover multiple new online games with all the latest features in-built into them. It was the first time in the year 2014 that the Garena company was valued as a USD 1 Billion internet company by the World Startup Report of 2014. In the same year, this company was also ranked as the largest internet company in Singapore by the World Startup Report itself.
Recent Major Developments and Updates
Soon after the company was valued as the USD 1 Billion company by the World Startup Report of 2014, Garena started receiving investments from many big corporates and investors that eventually increased the net worth of the company rapidly. The OTTP (Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan), which is one of the largest pension funds corporates in the world, officially started in March 2015, and it is investing in the online Game development and publisher giant, Garena. After the investments from the OTTP in the company, the total value of Garena stood over USD 2.5 Billion by the end of 2015. After this, Garena also received multiple investments from many other big corporates and investors in the next couple of years that eventually increased the total value of the company to 2 to 3 times the company's value that was in the starting of 2015. One major change that was seen in the company was in the year 2017 when Garena decided that it would rename itself Sea Limited. However, while renaming itself Sea Limited from Garena, the company also decided that it will be retaining Garena as a brand name under the Sea Limited company (which is popularly known as Sea group in today's time), and that's how Sea Limited became the parent company of Garena.
More big changes were seen in the company in the same year of renaming itself from Garena to Sea Limited, like Sea Limited decided to go for an IPO (Initial Public Offering) on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In the month of October, Sea Limited officially announced that they were going for an IPO at the New York Stock Exchange in the same year. The company also stated that through the Initial Public Offering at NYSE, they are aiming to raise USD 1 Billion by the end of 2017. Before the company decided to go for an IPO on New York Stock Exchange in 2017, the biggest stakeholder in the Sea Limited company was Tencent (which is also one of the biggest gaming companies in the market). Tencent was holding a 20% stake in the Sea Limited company, making it the biggest stakeholder of the company at that time, and it is currently having an 18.7% stake in the company. Even after listing the Sea Limited company on the New York Stock Exchange, Tencent is still one of the major stakeholders in the company. Other than Tencent, Blue Dolphins, which was also a startup established by Forrest Li (The original founder of Garena), was the second major stakeholder in the company at that time by owning 15% of the company's total share. Other than these big corporates, the company's founder was himself holding 20% of the company's total share at that time. Following Forrest Li, Gang Ye, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Sea Limited company itself, was also holding 10% of the company's total share under his portfolio.
After its listing on the New York Stock Exchange, the number of shareholdings in the company by the major stakeholders was changed drastically. For a couple of years, the major stakeholders' change in the number and percentage of shareholdings remained dynamic, and many new stakeholders were also introduced to the list during this time. The company shareholders were more interested in frequently changing their position in the company because many controversies about the Sea Limited company were heating up in the company. Therefore, except for the major 2 or 3 stakeholders of the company (including the founder of the company himself), no one was more interested in fixing their position in the company. Garena or Sea Limited remained in the news for most of the time in the upcoming years because of their latest developments in the gaming sector, new features introduced by them in the existing online games, and also because of the controversies and scenarios happening inside the company. As per its latest developments and strategy for acquiring most of the business in the market, the Garena company acquired Vancouver-based Phoenix Labs, the gaming developers of the popular game Dauntless, in early January 2021. This acquisition benefited the Sea Limited in the following two ways:
Garena was able to achieve the target of having more than 700 million active users in their gaming platform (725 million as an exact figure) by the end of the second quarter of 2021. With this number, the company saw a huge jump in the number of active user count as compared to the previous year's data. According to a report, the company recorded almost 45% more active users in the company in the second quarter of 2021 compared with the data from the active users in the company at the end of the second quarter of 2020. Talking about the number of paid users in the company, it also grew as much as 85% more by the end of the second quarter of 2021 when the data is compared with the paid users in the company at the end of the second quarter of 2020. By the end of the second quarter of 2021, the number of paid users of the company was near 100 million (92 million as an exact count), making Garena one of the few companies that have more than 50 million paid users on their platform. But the recent reports suggest that this growth will decline or even go in negative figures in 2022 compared to the company's growth in 2021. The major reason behind this prediction is the banning of multiple games and applications of the company in many countries, and many other controversies & negative news about the company spreading in the market.
Currently, Garena+, which is the largest customer base holding for the Sea Limited company, is becoming more popular day after day. The Garena+ platform is one of the most popular social and online gaming platforms around the world, and one of the major reasons behind this huge popularity of this platform is that it offers the User Interface (UI), which is very similar to the UI of any instant messaging platform or application. The Garena+ platform of the Sea Limited company is a worldwide hit platform because of its advantages and the latest features that one can only get on this platform. While there are multiple advantages that the Garena+ platform offers to its users, a few of them are listed below:
One can have access to all these features of the Garena+ platform for any of the Sea Limited company's products they are using.