SEA Gamer Mall CEO Wong Ong Hua's passion for online games pays off

PETALING JAYA: The old adage of following one’s passion has turned out well for Wong Ong Hua, a gamer at heart who runs a successful online gaming e-commerce platform SEA Gamer Mall Sdn Bhd.

SEA Gamer Mall (www.seagm.com) is a platform in the global online gaming space that enables gamers to purchase digital goods. SEA Gamer Mall retails and distributes digital game time codes, console reload codes, game activation keys for both popular local and international games.

SEA Gamer Mall is based in Sitiawan, Perak, and recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. It counts Berjaya Corp Bhd founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan as one of its private investors via Cyberventures Sdn Bhd since 2012.

“For me, it (this business) is not difficult, it’s more like my interest. I think it’s fun and I like to play games. I don’t treat it as a business, but like a hobby,” CEO Wong told SunBiz.

As a gamer himself, Wong said he understands what gamers want and will look at things from a gamer’s point of view, in terms of offering a particular product or service.

Wong has been avid gamer since 1994 when he was in university, spending about five to six hours every day to play games. Now, the 43-year-old electrical engineering graduate plays about two to three times a week for fun.

“I like to play standalone, strategy games,” said Wong, adding that his top three favourites are Civilization, Total War and Novunaga.

Wong said he formed SEA Gamer Mall after a friend in China asked for his help to sell to the Southeast Asian market.

“I just started it, actually I don’t have any idea at that moment. I built the website and I do the customer service myself. Now we have a website development team, many staff and departments to handle (the operations).”

He said the business of Sea Gamer Mall meets his three criteria of obtaining immediate payment (cash), with little or no after-sales services and is one business that not many people can do.

“At first, I have no idea that it can grow so big. I just do it and tried my best, spending a lot of time on it,” Wong said.

This year, SEA Gamer Mall expects its revenue to hit RM180 million this year, a 25% growth from RM144 million last year, driven by online advertising to acquire new users.
SEA Gamer Mall COO Tommy Chieng said as the company grows its user base, revenue will grow. It currently has over 840,000 registered users. It also expects the release of some good games this year to boost the demand for game top-ups.

“Our platform works just like any e-commerce website where customers place an order and they make a payment. The only difference is that the delivery of virtual goods is almost instant. For example, a top-up code is sent to the user’s account and the user can just copy and paste the code into their games to top up,” he explained.

The bulk of SEA Gamer Mall’s sales come from prepaid top-up cards (78%) and the remaining from e-game virtual goods.

“We’re selling the game top-ups of other publishers’ games and products. In our product catalogue, we have over 5,000 products and over 1,000 games,” said Chieng.

He said SEA Gamer Mall’s 2016 revenue came mainly from the US, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Thailand and Indonesia. Besides its headquarters in Sitiawan, SEA Gamer Mall has a marketing office in Kuala Lumpur, support offices in Thailand and Indonesia, while its back-end systems and website development team is in Chengdu, China. It employs about 104 staff in these four countries.

“There’s a big room to grow and currently we still have many gamers who do not know us,” said Chieng.

Previously operating on the business-to-business and business-to-consumer platforms, SEA Gamer Mall recently launched its consumer-to-consumer (C2C) platform Kaleoz.com and plans to focus on growing Kaleoz this year by penetrating China by the second half of this year.

The Kaleoz platform provides gamers the security and convenience to buy and sell their digital assets. Although Kaleoz is a global digital marketplace, Chieng said it plans to establish a team in China to partner with brands and companies there to push the growth of the C2C platform.

“China’s gamer population is one of the biggest in the world and the spending power and frequency of Chinese gamers is much higher than in other countries,” he added.