The first of its kind in the world, the Indie Game Accelerator Bootcamp took place in Google Singapore in November 2018.
Considering that it started in Asia instead of Silicon Valley, this was truly a breakthrough for the gaming startup community in Asia. The Bootcamp consisted of mentorship, training workshops, and networking sessions to allow startups to work with mentors from Google and the gaming industry, focusing on the following core areas: game development, business development and people and team culture development.
The aim of the accelerator curriculum is not to produce one-hit gaming wonders but rather, to prepare developers to establish a sustainable gaming business. The Google team recognised the talent and diversity of indie game developers in Southeast Asia, India, and Pakistan, and wanted to help them realise their potential. Five homegrown studios made the cut, most of which, are no strangers to indie fans in the region: BattleBrew Productions (BattleSky Brigade Tap Tap), Boomzap Entertainment (Hidden Conspiracy), Springloaded (The Legend of Evil), The Gentlebros (Cat Quest), and Touch Interactive (Autumn Dynasty: Three Kingdoms).
On 28 November 2018, the bootcamp drew to a close and both startup developers and their mentors shared announcements for the future of their businesses.
One of the highlights of the
DANAMIC also had the opportunity to have a chat with Desmond Wong, CEO and one of the founders of the local game studio The Gentlebros over lunch. He shared fascinating stories about their startup journey and the recent developments of their latest game, Cat Quest.
It all started when Desmond Wong, and the other two founders, Leon Ho and Nursyazana
The Gentlebros came up with their first game, Slashy Hero, on the side when they were still working with the Japanese company. Unexpectedly, Kongregate, a well-known US publisher for mobile and online games, featured Slashy Hero. With this encouraging development, they decided to leave the safety of their careers and apply for a few local grants to set up their own gaming studio.
However, the journey was not all bed and roses. “Revenue tends to pick up very fast and then goes down,” Desmond explained. When the revenue for Slashy Hero dipped, the group was faced with a difficult decision: they had to decide whether to continue with the startup or give up on it altogether. The Gentlebros took a risk creating the second game: Cat Quest.
“Thankfully, we managed to clinch a deal with another publisher, and we’re back to being good. If it (Cat Quest) didn’t do well, we wouldn’t be here today with the startup.”
Moving forward, The Gentlebros were faced with the question of sustainability. Given the short-term nature of popular games, how could they take steps to ensure their gaming business could be sustainable and not a one-hit wonder? In response, Desmond emphasized the importance of diversifying avenues of revenue: “It’s important to build a
Recently, The Gentlebros collaborated with custom toy manufacturer Symbiote Studios to produce a limited run of plush toys based on the main hero from Cat Quest. Only a limited number of 300 plushies were produced. The adorable and colourful nature of the hero cat also easily translated it into an attractive plushie. Priced at $24.99, this is a pretty good price for a rare collector’s piece. International fans can also purchase it as the toy is shipped worldwide, giving more buttress to The Gentlebros’ income.
The Gentlebros’ startup journey is but one of the many gaming startups’ journey in today’s highly competitive market. According to the statistics given by Google Play, the Southeast Asian gaming market size is projected to grow from 3.8 billion dollars in 2018 to 10 billion dollars in 2025.
With this expansion, there is bound to be many more gaming studios stepping into the scene. Google’s Indie Game Accelerator Bootcamp aimed at promoting the startup culture in Southeast Asia is all but a beginning.
Find out more about Google’s Indie Game Accelerator program at the official website: https://events.withgoogle.com/indie-games-accelerator/.
Photos by Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC team.