Soaring to new heights with Phoenix Adarna: PUBG Mobile and Cebu Pacific’s collab

·4 min read
An artwork depicting Phoenix Adarna: a limited edition character set that was available exclusively for Southeast Asian players. The character set, heavily based on the Filipino mythical bird
An artwork depicting Phoenix Adarna: a limited edition character set that was available exclusively for Southeast Asian players. The character set, heavily based on the Filipino mythical bird "Ibong Adarna," was the focal point of Tencent Games Philippines and Cebu Pacific Air, Inc.'s partnership last June. (Photo from Tencent Games Philippines)

Just before BLACKPINK made a grand return at PlayerUnknown‘s Battlegrounds (PUBG) Mobile’s first-ever virtual concert last July, Tencent Games Philippines collaborated with Cebu Pacific Air, Inc. to unveil Phoenix Adarna.

The recent concert headlined by the K-pop girl group was far from being the first and only big swing that Tencent Games took with their popular mobile game this 2022. From a Spider-Man: No Way Home collaboration last January to celebrating the game's fourth anniversary with “pop-up booths" across the Philippines last March to April, the return of offline events was something that Patricia Griño welcomed.

“Everyone has been stuck in their homes for the past two years. The comeback of offline events, especially for gaming, which was a regular thing pre-pandemic, [and it] is great to see the interest of the players to come back, go offline, meet their friends and take part in mini -tournaments, amateur tournaments, not just for competitive players but also casual players,” Griño, Tencent’s senior marketing manager in the Philippines, told Yahoo Philippines.

Perhaps one of their biggest was the company’s collaboration with Cebu Pacific Air this June. According to Benj Dalmacio, Tencent Games Philippines’ Senior Business Development Manager, “this collaboration [was] the first of its kind: [a] collaboration between a video game company and [for a] game title, as well as a major airline company in the Philippines and possibly Southeast Asia.”

Here, the two parties organized a “mobile game-themed flight” that involved cosplays, games, and special domestic and international round trips for winners of their offline games, and new missions and challenges in-game to unveil the limited edition, Southeast Asian exclusive “Phoenix Adarna” character set. Dalmacio explained that in the Phoenix Adarna-themed flight, cabin crew members wore costumes based on the character set, while the captain delivered “spiels” related to the in-game narrative.

Phoenix Adarna’s look was heavily inspired by the Filipino mythical bird Ibong Adarna, which Dalmacio described as being “very modern. Even the design of Adarna is on the techy side, and we still want to correlate with that. Basically, this is PUBG Mobile’s version of Adarna.”

When asked about the design choices for Phoenix Adarna, Griño said that Tencent wanted something that would be familiar to Filipino gamers.

“[We aimed] to tap at the larger audience of the Philippine market. Something that is highly localized and [that they are] highly familiar [with], and we want to spread that info not only [through] the busy media landscape of Metro Manila, but really expand it all across the country,” she explained.

Several other popular birds, mythical and real, contributed to Phoenix Adarna’s final design, including the Philippine Eagle, the rainbow phoenix (which Griño described as being appealing to Southeast Asian players), and the sarimanok (which Dalmacio said was ingrained in Filipino culture).

Everyone’s a winner, winner

The event itself faced challenges, such as scheduling and logistics concerns brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these, Griño hoped that the participants saw PUBG Mobile as not just any other mobile game.

“[What] we want people to get out of the partnership between CP [Cebu Pacific] and PUBG Mobile is that our game can be a platform to promote Filipino culture, Filipino art, Filipino literature, Filipino tourism, and that we are not just a game that you play at home and then won’t go out because you are playing. We want them to understand that PUBG Mobile is a global game but it is also a Filipino game,” she discussed.

Dalmacio agreed, adding that “as a natural Esports or competitive gaming title, that is something we offer to our player base: the opportunity to compete, show off their talents, skills, and hopefully eventually bring honor [and] glory.”

While they were searching for partners, Dalmacio, in a follow-up statement, explained that “it just so [happened] that Cebu Pacific was also looking at trying out a more 'gamified' approach to how they reach out to their audience, especially with gaming gaining ground during the pandemic. With travel restrictions also easing up, it was just of perfect timing that PUBG Mobile and Cebu Pacific [worked] together on this first-of-its-kind partnership.”

Griño teased that this wouldn’t be the last time that PUBG Mobile would be dipping its toes in Filipino culture, hinting at ideas such as bilao (a traditional winnowing tray) and pamaypay (a traditional hand fan) as in-game weapons.

“For us in PUBG Mobile, we listen to our community, and they tell us what they want to see. We will make it happen for them, and that's the culture that we want our players to experience: a feeling of ownership [sic] towards the video game, that they are [a] part of it, and [that] they are part of the experience, and the creation of the game itself. There is a lot to look forward to,” Griño ended.

Reuben Pio Martinez is a news writer who covers stories on various communities and scientific matters. He regularly tunes in to local happenings. The views expressed are his own.