As the games industry is achieving a new reputation as an important and growing business landscape, much effort and initiatives have been spurred to ensure Southeast Asia is part of the conversation. What kind of work is on the ground to get this support and recognition that the region deserves? At gamescom asia 2023, we had the chance to take a look into Southeast Asia’s gaming industry with two market experts, Jennifer Vu (Gamegeek Asia) and Ian Pang (Twin Suns Corp). We gathered fascinating insights on the Vietnamese gaming industry and the challenges of building a global team.
Jennifer Vu’s Journey: Fueling Vietnam’s Game Development Renaissance
Jennifer Vu is the COO of Gamegeek Asia and is focused on the international connections of the local game development community. Speaking on Vietnam’s Indie Game Renaissance, she described the progress of Vietnam’s game development scene as accelerated due to their flexible approach to finding funding for their teams.
Today, Vietnam’s game industry consists of almost 2000 companies, with Falcom Game Studios, ABI, iKame, and Rocket Studio leading the charge. About 90% of this large number are indie game studios. The country has racked up an impressive 4.2 billion downloads in terms of locally developed mobile games, proving that they are competent in creating games and products that hit the market.
What factors affect the funding conditions in Vietnam’s gaming industry? Jennifer outlines that there are certain areas of focus that they prioritize.
First, their focus is on funding per team and not per project. While we may see game studios get various publishers or investors for different projects in their portfolio, in Vietnam, there is a greater interest in finding investment in the teams themselves. This helps cover the extreme speed at which the games market moves, allowing studios to quickly adapt to any changes and maximize the possibility of a well-made and profitable hit game. There is a focus on funding for scale, taking the number of studios and games being made to impressive numbers.
At the end of the talk, the main takeaway was that their flexible business model works very well, especially for their competency in casual and hypercasual games. Through this flexibility and development, games developed in Vietnam have also improved in quality, paving a solid path for the already exciting game industry of the Southeast Asian country.
Global Talent Hunt: Ian Pang’s Approach to Building a Dream Team
Ian Pang’s video game development company, Twin Suns Corp, was built during the pandemic. Despite the different environment in putting together a brand new team, this didn’t discourage the studio director from accomplishing this goal.
On finding the right talent to put together the team, Ian mentioned that the studio took on a remote and global approach – one that is not restricted to any region or area. It also became critical to tap into the network to find talent that you can trust. Ian acknowledged that it took work to find not only the right talent but also the suitable skill set and mindset. Even through the process of interviews, it’s not exactly a surefire way to determine the progress of the new hire.
Thankfully, education in the games industry has come a long way – several institutions such as DIGIPEN and many polytechnic universities have put together game development curriculums that prove helpful in real-world applications. This took the work of the educational institutions and the government to invest in their respective country’s games development talent and local industry.
On the topic of the continuous development of talent even at work, Ian acknowledged that creative people need outlets to continue their development and stimulate their imagination and desire to learn. At Twin Suns Corp, they encourage employees to take some time to develop in the direction of their interests. A certain trust system exists, but it will have benefits in terms of skills development and morale.
Ian imparts advice on building a team: “Many people create a team around the kind of product they want to make, but you need to put thought into the kind of company that you build.” Prioritizing company goals, approaches, and methods can help keep everyone on the same page regarding not only the team but also the product itself.
From Niche to Norm: The Evolution of Southeast Asia’s Gaming Industry
The viability of entering the world of games for one’s career was unthinkable only some years ago in Southeast Asian culture. However, thanks to the tide of time and the undeniable impact of games, there’s no longer a need to explain to one’s parents what they do in the games industry.
This growth in the industry is supported on many fronts, and events like gamescom asia have put these success stories and rising stars front and center.