INTERVIEWS
INTERVIEWS

June 21, 2021

Kenzie

FairPlay Studios: Stepping Up and Leading the Charge in Thailand’s Game Industry

June 21, 2021 | Kenzie

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 for gamers and game developers.

The Bangkok-based studio started 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 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 four pillars: art, development, game design, and a collective business unit. It currently holds 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 its future. Anyone—from shareholders to junior staff—can pitch their ideas, encouraging an open-minded and collaborative team.

FairPlay Studios

“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 catalogue 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’s release on all major consoles and PCs. This enabled them to be one of Thailand’s few developers with access to the needed dev kits.

CMO and Head of Business Development Cabin Yim observed that FairPlay’s 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 its publishing partners on a serious marketing push to break into the global gaming community.

To complement this success, FairPlay Studios has also been busy with new titles. FairPlay Studios launched an in-house development arm called Holy Basil Studios earlier this year. 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 to 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 there is no local talent shortage – 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 receives is also one reason 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, the industry seems to be 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 for bringing Thailand onto 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 Overcooked and Moving Out fans. In addition, their new mobile-focused studio is prepping the endless scroller Angry Wife, currently in the testing stage, and the 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 extend to corporate client work, exploring the wonders of gamification outside of the industry. Together with their new hyper/casual mobile arm and 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 be what Thailand needs to become the next big game dev hub. The studio is steady at work, digging and grinding – and is ready to strike gold.

Fallen Knight will be released in 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.



Kenzie

Kenzie received a second childhood by crunching five generations of video game history in her free time – out of pure boredom and fascination. Since then, she’s been obsessively playing and writing about games and interactive fiction. She hopped aboard VirtualSEA to discover more about the regional game industry and help promote its talent and titles. She has a rolling list of favorite games, but Knights of the Old Republic and Horizon Zero Dawn come out on top.

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