This spring, it became known that the Battle royale of Free Fire beat its main competitor, PUBG Mobile, in terms of earnings in the United States. The analytical company SocialPeta in its column on she analyzed the creatives of the game and told us exactly what marketing approaches Garena, the publisher and developer of the game, resorted to.

Fiona Long — SocialPeta

Today there are three main players in the mobile shooter market — PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile and Free Fire.

There are two key differences between the latest title and its competitors.

  • Firstly, before the game appeared on mobile platforms, it did not have a “progenitor” of the series. Free Fire was originally created as a mobile brand.
  • Secondly, it has always primarily focused on audiences with devices of medium and low price ranges. The game as a joke can be called a budget PUBG.

But with this approach, how did the game manage to win back the American market from Tencent?

We believe that Garena did it thanks to four approaches in promotion:

  • focus on budget android devices;
  • using Facebook as the main advertising tool;
  • emphasis on customization in static creatives;
  • humorous videos.

Let’s focus on each approach in a little more detail.

Focus on Android

Garena tries not to compete directly with PUBG Mobile. The reason is both in the “budget” positioning, and in the established relations with Tencent.

For example, a Singaporean developer has a large number of agreements with the Chinese. According to one of them, Garena distributes a number of Tencent titles in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. According to another, regions such as India and Latin America are also recognized as zones of influence behind it.

Such a close relationship would most likely not have been possible if Tencent did not own a quarter of all the securities of the technical conglomerate Sea Limited, of which Garena is a division.

The rejection of direct competition does not mean that the Singapore company does not work in other markets. On the contrary, after it achieved success in its main territories — Southeast Asia, India and Latin America – it took a firm grip on the United States. But, attention, without entering into a “confrontation” with his “older brother” in the person of PUBG Mobile.

This turned out to be possible due to maintaining the focus on the audience with budget devices.

It is believed that the US market is one of the most paying. But it is important to remember that economic conditions in the coastal and inland regions of the country vary significantly. Simply put, there is also a public sector in America that should not be neglected. And it was on this segment that Garena focused.

A better reflection of this is how the game’s advertising budget is distributed. 73% of the game’s creatives are on Android.

For comparison, PUBG Mobile tries to maintain a balance between platforms. Android accounts for about 55% of creatives. And in general, there are fewer of them.

The main tool of promotion is Facebook

95% of Garena’s advertising creatives are played on Facebook platforms. This is not surprising. In terms of efficiency in the USA, Facebook remains one of the best tools for promotion.

More interesting is another thing: all these impressions are approximately equally distributed between FB News, Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network. Each of the channels accounts for around 20%.

Emphasis on customization in static creatives

Free Fire has long preferred video in advertising. However, since mid-April, the number of impressions of static creatives has also increased significantly. At the end of May, their screenings surpassed video screenings.

Most of the static creatives of Free Fire are notifications about seasonal updates, notifications about changes in skins or versions. However, they often focus the user’s attention on the customization available in the game.

This can be called unwinding one of the game features of Free Fire. Yes, PUBG Mobile also has customization of appearance. You can choose the appearance of the main character, his gender, hairstyle, facial features, you can choose the right clothes. However, there is no hero pool with unique features like Free Fire. Plus, in the Garena game, each hero has his own set of skins.

And Garena just periodically advertises new sets of appearance. One of the most illustrative examples is the collaboration with Netflix. At the moment of the announcement of the new season of the series “Paper House“, Garena released a set of clothes for the game, which are worn by the main characters of the series, and also began to promote it.

According to SociaPeta statistics, the ad was shown for only 6 days. During this time, the number of her views exceeded 19 thousand.

Funny videos as the main advertising tool

Unlike PUBG Mobile commercials based on battle scenes, Free Fire commercials rely on TikTok—style ads – funny situational videos.

For example, just below is a video about how powerful equipment was accidentally found during the siege. Before the battle, the characters do not forget to show off in front of the camera. This ad ran for 130 days, and its number of views exceeded 1 million.

From time to time, Garena dedicates commercials to one of the key features of Free Fire — the ability to set mines. The advertisement just below shows how a late-landing character falls into a minefield. This video has gained 330 thousand views in 60 days.

The most common plot of Free Fire advertising is ambushes and snipers. A good example is the video below, where the main character “campers” opponents, forces them to retreat, and then throws grenades. This advertisement has gained 346 thousand views in 45 days.

The target audiences of Free Fire and TikTok are very similar. So TikTok-style advertising helps the game, increases loyalty to it from users.


Once again, we note that from our point of view, one of the success factors of Free Fire in the USA was the promotion strategy, which implies:

  • focus on budget android devices;
  • using Facebook as the main promotion tool;
  • emphasis on customization in static creatives;
  • the use of humorous commercials for advertising.

Whether a similar approach will help with the development of the project in Europe, where the game lags significantly behind PUBG Mobile in revenue, is an open question.