Free Fire – Preparation 01

💡 I analyze Free Fire not from a product perspective but from a platform business perspective. The key differences between two perspectives are the length of lifespan, the shape of life cycle in terms of revenue, and the optionality while both have some similar business model attributes such as live game (on-going operation, Game-as-a-Service) and monetization methods applied. I don’t have the luxury to get access to premium analytics so I start with some free information available online.

This post has a Notion version.

Guess from Historical Data – All from Senor Tower

2019 Top Games

  • Garena Free Fire was No.2 game in 2019 by downloads
  • The smaller share of App Store in Garena Free Fire compared to those of PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty indicates the market segment difference (customer segment, device, spec, demographic)
  • Device spec requirement for the game needs to fit the market. And the monetization methods need to fit as well.
Source: Q4 2019 Store Intelligence Data Digest

2019 Q4 Data

  • Performed well in 2019 Q4 by downloads
  • Very low App Store share in worldwide download
  • Not in the worldwide App Store chart but ranked No. 3 in Google Play
  • Not even in the US Google Play which indicates major markets are outside of the U.S.
Source: Q4 2019 Store Intelligence Data Digest
Source: Q4 2019 Store Intelligence Data Digest
Source: Q4 2019 Store Intelligence Data Digest
Source: Q4 2019 Store Intelligence Data Digest

The State of Mobile Battle Royale as of Q2 2019

  • Garena Free Fire was the only Battle Royale app which quarterly downloads trended upward from Q1 2018 and Q2 2019. This might indicate that 1) Garena Free Fire had not reached the inflection point of S-curve yet and/or 2) Garena’s TAM was expanding by entering into new market or further penetrating existing markets.
  • Among top 10 countries by downloads of Battle Royale, Garena Free Fire has significant or meaningful market share (by downloads) in emerging markets whose characteristics are larger population but lower ARpPU. Markets include India, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Mexico, Turkey. Note that Southeast Asia is Garena’s core market. In addition, Garena Free Fire also had some market share in the U.S.
  • In terms of revenue traction as of Q2 2019, it showed that 1) PUBG Mobile exploded in quarterly revenue reflecting monetization in China; 2) stabilization of Knifes Out and Fortnite 3) phasing out of Rules of Survival; 4) healthy upward trend in Garena Free Fire’s quarterly revenue which might be reflecting hypothesis in the first bullet point. Garen Free Fire grossed more than Knives Out and Fortnite in Q2 2019 driven by more than $55 million gross revenue from Brazil.
  • The cumulative world revenue from 1Q 2018 to 2Q 2019 indicates the much higher ARpPU of iOS devices users which might be driven by 1) stronger purchasing power; 2) better conversion; 3) better retention (for whatever reason). Based on the device distribution in downloads, revenue contribution per download of iOS devices was much higher than that of Android devices.
  • Among top countries by battle royale revenue during 1Q 2018 to 2Q 2019, Knives Out dominated Japan; Fortnite dominated U.S. while PUBG Mobile having meaningful share; PUBG Mobile and Knives Out shared the China App Store market for the category. Garena Free Fire dominated market like Brazil, Thailand, Mexico, and Indonesia. Garena Free Fire also had sizable share in Malaysia. (what’s KSF for Garena to grabbed such shares in some LATAM markets?)
Source: The State of Mobile Battle Royale Games in Q2 2019
Source: The State of Mobile Battle Royale Games in Q2 2019
Source: The State of Mobile Battle Royale Games in Q2 2019
Source: The State of Mobile Battle Royale Games in Q2 2019
Source: The State of Mobile Battle Royale Games in Q2 2019

Garena Free Fire Quarterly Gross Revenue from 4Q 2017 to 1Q 2019

  • Combined with data above, the estimated Garena Free Fire revenue in 2Q 2019 was around $179M ($387M – ($2M+$11M+$29M+$76M+$90M)).
  • Brazil accounted for ~31% or ~$27.9M of $90M in 1Q 2019. Brazil revenue share in 4Q 2018 was estimated ~44% or ~$33.4M.
  • Thailand contributed 11% or ~$9.9M of the total in 1Q 2019.
  • United Stated contributed ~9.4% or ~$8.5M of the total in 1Q 2019. Its share in 4Q 2018 was about 4%.
  • Brazil’s new installs were 14.6M in 1Q 2019 accounting for 20% of 73M downloads.
  • India’s new installs were 11.7M in 1Q 2019 or 16% of total downloads.
  • Indonesia’s new installs were 10.2M in 2019 or 14% total downloads.
  • U.S. new installs were around 1.1M in 2019 or 1.5% total downloads.
  • Overall, new installs had 81% YoY and 23% QoQ in 1Q 2019.
Source: Garena Free Fire Posts Record Quarter with $90 Million in Spending, 73 Million New Players

Sea’s Garena Snapshot

Some Sea’s Digital Entertainment charts for housekeeping purpose.

User Base


Margin Profile

Talking Points in DE

  • Fully self-developed game, Free Fire, launched on iOS App Store & Google Play Store on December 4, 2017. Free Fire is a battle royale type of mobile game developed in-house by Garena.
    • Daily active user (DAU) from over 130 markets worldwide
      • 1Q20: 80m peak DAU
      • 4Q19: 60m peak DAU
      • 3Q19: m peak DAU (cumulative adjusted revenue reached US$1 Billion)
      • 2Q19: m peak DAU
      • 1Q19: 50m peak DAU (450m global registered users)
      • 4Q18: 40m peak DAU (350m global registered users); (self-dev: 44.5% DE adj rev )
      • 3Q18: 27m peak DAU (200m global registered users)
      • 2Q18: 16m DAU (in June, self-developed game accounted for 13% DE adj rev)
      • 1Q18: 13m DAU
      • 4Q17: 6m DAU
  • Macro Trend
    • Smartphone penetration in the region (4Q17)
  • Strategic Update
    • 2Q18
      • moving from PC-only to mobile-first
      • moving from pure game publishing to both game publishing and development
      • expanding from a regional footprint to a global presence (core -> )
    • 3Q18
      • partnership with Tencent (granted a right of first of refusal to publish its mobile and PC games)


  • Game publishing:
    • 1st party (Free Fire)
    • 3rd party – Tencent under right of first refusal agreement such as Tencent’s Speed Drifters and Activision & Tencent Games’ Call of Duty: Mobile
    • 3rd party – Others such as PUBG Corporation’s PUBG LITE
  • Game development: studio in Shanghai (200+ developers as of 4Q18)

Pinterest – Initial Model

Pinterest (PINS.US)

[October 19, 2019]

Initial Model

Download the work-in-progress model in excel here to play around 🙂

It’s been a while since I put together initial analysis and deck skeleton on Pinterest. However, I have some difficulties to convert my thesis (particularly business development and competition) into numeric assumptions and found it’s not easy to validate those assumptions. So I just built an initial model and decided to wait and see.

More detective works required to build up conviction and to determine margin of safety.


Astral Chain – Social Analytics Exercise on Game Release

Click the tweet below to see the whole thread of tracking Astral Chain.