We talk about Knights, “Nons,” and beyond with the ambitious new Bangkok-based game development and outsourcing studio
Last April 22, VirtualSEA had the pleasure of participating in gamescom asia’s Game Market Bootcamp: Thailand. As part of covering the Thailand games market, the famous conference featured the up-and-coming FairPlay Studios. The conversation, moderated by myself, focused on the growth of their studio and portfolio, and how they contribute to Thailand’s recognition as an excellent market of gamers and game developers.
The Bangkok-based studio started off with a fateful meeting between investors eager to enter the growing games market and a group of game industry veterans with big plans. Thanisorn [Phet] Boonsoong, CEO of FairPlay Studios, heard their pitch and believed in their vision – and a beautiful partnership was formed.
The team was built with clear cut goals in mind. Through a stroke of luck and hard work, the studio avoided the pitfalls of a young company scrambling for the right people. Veterans of their respective industries joined them: their COO, formerly the lead programmer, is shepherding their new ventures and their CFO, a veteran from the banking industry, extends their role as Game Director.
The studio operates on 4 pillars: art, development, game design, and a collective business unit. They currently hold internship programs that have proved successful, as some participants have graduated to full-time positions at the studio.
The studio’s democratic culture is balanced with a formal decision matrix to determine how it moves forward. Anyone – from shareholders to junior staff – can pitch their ideas, encouraging an open-minded and collaborative team.
“We are gamers at the end of the day, and it’s important to realize and live that part of our culture.”
Their first-ever venture was Fallen Knight with Apple Arcade, a new video game subscription service with a high-quality catalog exclusive to the iOS system. So, it was already an accomplishment to be amongst this prestigious first batch of Apple Arcade-certified games in August 2019. The Mega-Man inspired sidescrolling adventure was developed within a year and started off the studio’s reputation as a competent developer with fresh ideas.
The collaborative porting experience became valuable to the studio as they started to close publishing deals with PQube, Phoenixx and DIDTC for Fallen Knight to come out on all major consoles and PC – enabling them to be one of the few developers in Thailand to have access to the needed dev kits.
CMO and Head of Business Development Cabin Yim observed that their growth had been mostly organic through the Apple Arcade ecosystem. With the release of Fallen Knight to a new wider audience, FairPlay has been hard at work with their publishing partners for a serious marketing push to break into the global gaming community.
To complement this success, FairPlay Studios has been busy with new titles as well. Earlier this year, FairPlay Studios launched an in-house development arm called Holy Basil Studios. The focus of these studios is on hyper/casual mobile games. They soft launched a mobile virtual pet game based on mythical creatures of Thai folklore called Himmapan Marshmello Saga. These virtual pets, called “Nons” in the game, captured the hearts of gamers and added a piece of Thai cultural identity in the gaming world. The venture saw a positive reception, and their Discord community grew to nearly a thousand members.
“All members of the community played a key role – providing feedback and shaping the games as they are today.”
Looking forward to Thailand’s games culture, there has been an understanding and acceptance of the industry as a high-potential growth area. Phet believes that there is no shortage of talent locally – from new studios to solo devs – and it will take a catalyst to propel the industry forward.
The institutional support that the Thai games scene is receiving is also one of the reasons for its promising upstart. The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) and the Thai Game Software Industry Association (TGA) launched an accelerator program. As a result, it seems that the industry is taking a step in the right direction with the guidance of experienced professionals and business-focused plans.
FairPlay Studios sees itself as a mainstay in the industry and strives to be the catalyst that will bring Thailand on the global game development map. That said, they are eagerly working on their next releases: “At Your Service” is an original IP couch co-op perfect for fans of Overcooked and Moving Out. In addition, their new mobile-focused studio is prepping the endless scroller Angry Wife, currently in testing stage, and roguelite adventure The Land Beneath Us, currently in development.
Their rigorous launch schedule puts them at five releases, but what lies ahead is just as exciting.
Their game development goals also reach out to corporate client work, exploring the wonders of gamification outside of the industry. Together with their new hyper/casual mobile arm and their continuous search for the next big FairPlay Studios original IP, the future looks bright for the Thai developers.
“We want to be recognized as the ambitious studio looking to take a crack at the daunting global stage and have a global hit sensation from Thailand.”
FairPlay Studios’ mission statement is a straightforward coda: “May Our Games Brighten Your Day.” These exciting new projects made by and for gamers could just be what Thailand needs to become the next big game dev hub. All that said, the studio is steady at work, digging and grinding – and is ready to strike gold.
Fallen Knight is soon to release this 2021 on Nintendo Switch, Playstation, Xbox, and Steam. VirtualSEA will continue to follow this development and exciting new titles from FairPlay Studios, as well as more game development news from Thailand.