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Indie Games Industry

The GameFounders Power Panel

Yesterday at GameFounders Asia, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia we were treated to a killer lineup from veterans of the gaming industry, here to talk about ongoing market trends (the topics have been summarised for the audience/writer’s convenience). If you’re interested in watching the full panel discussion we’ll be posting it up soon!

Up on the panel were:

  • Alexey Menshikov from Beatshapers (Ukraine) – Creators of Kill All Zombies, Ready to Run, Z-Run, BreakQuest, MelodyBloxx
  • Harri Manninen from Shark Punch (Finland) – Creators of The Masterplan and Playfield a community platform focusing on game discovery to benefit both the consumer and developer.
  • Ilari Kuittinen and Mikael Haveri from Housemarque (Finland) – Creators of Super Stardust HD, Outland, Dead Nation, Resogu, Alienation
  • Mark Terrano from Hidden Path Entertainment (USA) – Game Designer and Programmer for the Age of Empires franchise, CS Go
  • Oliver Kern (Netherlands) – Chief Mobilizer at Mobilize a Marketing Agency for Mobile Games. 20 years of experience in marketing and advertising hundreds of casual, core and MMO games.


Q: Where Do You See The Market Heading?

The most exciting place to be right now is going to be VR; the platform has opened up a whole new type of experience for the platform. It’s definitely going to be risky in the beginning and we’ll be lucky if we’re going to breakeven.

Keep in mind that the mobile industry is young and VR hasn’t even reached one year yet, have some patience with VR.

It’s not so much going to be the platform that will be leading the market. Mobile, console and PC won’t be disappearing anytime soon. In the end content is King, the platform is just the type of experience, know your core audience and be able to create the right experience for them.


Q: Which Platform Should an Indie Developer Start On?

Go PC first. PC is solid, has the best toolset and there’s plenty of financing options such as Kickstarter and Early Access. It’s easier to get noticed nowadays with Twitch and YouTube’s Let’s Play.

I’d suggest going PC and then premium mobile.

Think about the ease of accessibility for each of your audiences, different platforms would cater to a different type of audience.

Basically whatever you can make a great experience on; you can ultimately port it onto different platforms. The platform genres are all currently very broad.

In any event it’s going to be hard to be successful regardless of what platform you’re on.

Just ask yourself one question, “Would you pay money for your game?” then ask a few more people that question. If the answers are all yes, then you probably have something worthwhile.


Q: What Are You Looking For In Asia?

Games are a very universal form of entertainment apart from movies. But generally movies will end up being localized for their region, most of the time you’ll see a game in Asia and it would be a clone but usually one from the West side.  I’m looking to see more cultural and regional flavors of games to coming out from Asia.

The Asian region is a huge and competitive place that is mostly still untapped. We have a lot to learn from this region from the unique talents and game concepts to the business climate in this region. Most companies soft launch in South East Asia to test the market, meaning they see the region has high potential.

We’re looking at eSports in the region. Asia became a one of the biggest regions for eSports even before Europe.


Q: Which Business Models Do You Prefer? (F2P/Premium)

With any business model it’s always going to cost you money in terms of promotion and user acquisition, but both models are going to be equally difficult to break through.

The key thing is to know your audience and your content. Remember which market you’re aiming for and note the localization of money payments. Gamers need a certain depth of experience. Some genres and gameplay fit the Premium model and others will do better off with F2P.

Is your game a niche? Will your audience pay for it? If you’re targeting everybody you’re probably better off with a F2P model. In terms of advertising it’s a good way to make money and some games will even base their whole revenue on it but make sure to balance between ads and game experience.


Q: What Niche Do You See Missing In The Market?

I’d like to see more Sports Mobile Games

I think there should be more games for the Romance genre or couple games

I think AR and VR is a wide Blue Ocean for people to make their mark in

On mobile there are games mainly catered for older female players, mostly puzzle and games for young male players such as action and arcade. What we’re missing are games for the young female audience, there should be more great games for them, not Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.

There should be more Free To Play Console Games, I think there’s only 3 right now in the market and they’re doing very well.

There should be more Megaman games!


Q: What Do You Think About VR on Mobile

In terms of hardware it’s quite limited right now, there’s the Gear VR but Google is really doing a great job of trying to get the Google Cardbox into everybody’s hands.

VR is difficult to do but if you do it right the market is wide open. Right now with the current content the bar is set pretty low and people are going to be looking for more great content.


Q: What Are Your Thoughts On Augmented Reality Games?

The market for AR is not ready yet, I’d still give it another year but if you’re looking to get into that you should be experimenting with it now.

Holo Lens right now has been built more for the app market but I think it’s really going to struggle until you can go out with it.

I’m looking forward to Pokemon Go coming out later this year, I think we’ll really see then what the market for Augmented Reality is going to be like.


Q: What Are Your Views On Piracy?

It’s an arms race and it will always be an issue. You just have to find ways to protect your IP, try different systems, server based games but ultimately they’re going to keep innovating which means you’ll have to as well. Just be careful that your security measures don’t impact the game experience too much.


Q: What Is The Greatest Game Ever Made?

  • Age of Empires II
  • Gran Turismo
  • Portal
  • Mercenary
  • Donkey Kong

Thank you to all the speakers for coming out and talking to us and a big thank you to GameFounders and IGDA Malaysia for making it happen. Stay tuned for the full video!