Last Tuesday we had an amazing chance to host “Games in Asia Meetup in Bangkok” at Playspace @Pocket PlayLab! The event’s main focus was to talk about indie gaming studio in Thailand and most importantly how to build an indie gaming studio. They had two guest speakers, Jakob Lykkegaard and Saiyai Sakawee who shared some insights on building an indie studios. So who are Jakob and Saiyai?! …Read More
Last Tuesday we had an amazing chance to host “Games in Asia Meetup in Bangkok” at Playspace @Pocket PlayLab! The event’s main focus was to talk about indie gaming studio in Thailand and most importantly how to build an indie gaming studio. They had two guest speakers, Jakob Lykkegaard and Saiyai Sakawee who shared some insights on building an indie studios.
So who are Jakob and Saiyai?!
Jakob Lykkegaard, then an university dropout is now a Co-Founder of Pocket PlayLab, the biggest independent mobile game developer in South East Asia.
Saiyai Sakawee, a self-proclaimed tech “nerd” (which she definitely is!) is a Co-Founder and CMO of MSeed Asia, Thailand’s first startup accelerator of game.
They both have lots to share about their experience from how they got into gaming industry to the challenges they had setting up the Indie Gaming Studios.
Let’s see what they have to say:
1. How did you get into the game industry?
Jakob: Before starting Pocket PlayLab I co-founded Pagemodo, the first custom Facebook Page builder based on templates. We learned a lot of tough lessons on culture and business building, but never gave up on the vision and later sold the company close to its peak time, to Webs Inc. and later Vistaprint. After selling my first startup I ended up investing in new startups and ideas in Bangkok and Pocket PlayLab was one of them. As I like to say, “By accident I found a great team that was looking for new opportunities and couldn’t think of anything more fun than games.”
Saiyai: MSeed is started by a group of people who are not only passionate about the game industry but have many years of experience in the game business from game studio, game publisher, and also Thai Game Association.
2. What is the indie game community in Thailand like? Is the community important for the growth of your studio?
Jakob: Yes, the community is very important for us as the best games are usually created by sharing infos and ideas. It also helps get Thailand more into the spotlight of international companies looking for partnerships or investing.
Saiyai: In the past, a group of Thai game developers would join the forum http://forums.thaigamedevx.com/ which started 10 years ago. This is a place where they exchange idea and how to improve the product. Of course, with Facebook, now the community got stronger online. However, it’s not a strong one community but individual ones – based on friend cycle. Now MSeed is working with a government sector SIPA to create an official community for Thai game developers.
3. Did you have any challenges setting up indie studios in Thailand?
Jakob: Some of our main challenges were that not a single member of the original team had ever built any server or mobile game platform to the size and scale we were aiming for. But we overcame the challenges by trial and error. Our entire team has learned so much from that process that they are now among the best in the field and as a gaming company we are now attractive enough to pull in guys that have worked with big scales and games before.
Saiyai: Language barrier is the key problem for the Thai game industry in general!
4. What are you doing in terms of marketing for your studio?
Jakob: We do a whole lot of events and speeches, but I prefer that people find us through the success of our games and not the other way around.
Saiyai: MSeed is an accelerator program. We help our portfolio teams market their games by providing the commercialization money and partnership. In addition, we also bring in mentors that can help on this part to work with the teams.
5. How are you financing the studios at this stage? What about investors? Do you think indie game studios should approach investors? What are some common problems indie game studios in TH have when it comes to getting funding?
Jakob: We finance it fully by the revenue of our games, it took us around 2 years of spending from our own pockets to reach todays stage and never had any investors in!
Saiyai: It all depends on the studio. What their exit plans are. As for the common problem – what i see right now is that the indie studios don’t have the understanding of how VC or investors work. The knowledge of business planning or even understanding the term paper is still lacking. In addition, some of the studios are very good at making games but not monetization, that makes it hard for them to raise fund or make the company looks appealing for the investors.
6. What advice would you give to other individuals who are thinking about starting their own indie game studio?
Jakob:Start with a small team and small game, you will need to fail a few times and your next games become so much better from all your learnings of failed games.
Saiyai: Be open minded and willing to share. One thing I’ve noticed is that people are scared to let other people try their games – that’s so weird. I mean, they should want to listen to as much feedback as possible before they officially launch the game.
7. What’s next for…?
Pocket PlayLab: That’s the question that still keeps me excited. We are once again moving faster and scaling to a bigger scale than anyone of us has ever seen. We are constantly changing to help the company and culture handle longer term vision and now have the opportunity to plan longer than just the next game title. We have started getting a lot of international attention from partners and investors that I have always dreamt about working with. With a strong plan and an awesome team, it can’t happen fast enough.
Mseed Asia: As for MSeed, we want to make this first batch of the accelerator successful. That will prove that the Thai game indies can compete in the world level.
About Mseed Asia
The MSeed team has more than 10 years of experience as managers of world-class online gaming businesses, game developers, academics and marketers. They make dreams come alive for the younger generation who are passionate about gaming, and to make sure that the name of the Thai game startup is recognized on a global level. For more information, please visit: www.mseed.asia/
About Pocket PlayLab
Pocket PlayLab is a leading developer of the world’s most popular casual games with over 22 million downloads. Founded in January 2012 and located in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand, Pocket PlayLab is the home of hits like Juice Cubes, Jungle Cubes and more hit games in the pipe! Completely free-to-play, they are available on mobile devices via Apple Store, Google Play, Amazon or Facebook. For more information, please visit: www.pocketplaylab.com