What made you decide that it’s time to hold a Games Convention event in Asia? What have been your biggest motivation to organize this event?
With our success in Europe with GC – Games Convention in Leipzig and the booming of video game industry in Asia-Pacific, we thought that the industry in this region is lacking a platform to grow. For quite a number of reasons we started Games Convention Asia for Asia Pacific in Singapore last year.
I felt that we had to explore the Asian market and we felt that Singapore is not only a nice place to establish a show that can help out to serve the industry in the region, but not only to Singapore, but for entire Asia-Pacific. So we sat down with the industry, government agencies and the creative platform, following the idea of the European convention, and we had to readjust and enforce a couple of things in order not to end up as a copy of Europe to Asia.
The video game industry is growing around the world. The demands and the expectations in this economic sector are also high, and so the competition among game makers is also tight. How does an event like the GCA address that issue?
That’s actually the key purpose of GCA, to nurture the growth of video game industry in Asia-Pacific, be it in the publishing side, business side or the development side. We would like to see the competitiveness of video game industry in Asia-Pacific to the level similar to the ones in Europe, Japan and the US. We believe competition would bring positive results to the industry, where everyone would strive to make the best game and provide the best game services. Our goal is to have GCA be the arena where all gaming companies will gather for the industry in Asia-Pacific and to showcase their products and services. The purpose is also to form the community in the region in order to create the environment for an even greater economical impact. Offering business solutions on a very international level and bringing markets closer together with a convention like this has proven to be an excellent vehicle for the industry to achieve this goal.
What impact has GCA had on the local market?
In our initial event last year, we welcomed 70,000 visitors in the show and had a great conference with 600 delegates. So we felt that this inaugural event gives a lot of faith in the market that for the needs of the industry we can go on further in creating GCA as the platform for the Asia-Pacific’s video games scene. Thus in April, we set up our own company in Singapore to develop the event much better and to work closely with the industry for this platform.
Why choose to hold the event in Singapore?
There are several reasons why we think Singapore is the perfect venue for GCA. First, we feel that Singapore’s government has been very supportive to the video game industry. It has good intellectual properties protection, reliable technological infrastructure and stable economic situation.
Second, Singapore’s gaming industry and market is quite universal, which means that both Western and Eastern business models work here. For Western gaming model, Singaporean gamers play all type of consoles and buy games at retail shops. As for Eastern gaming model, online PC gaming, especially the free-to-play games have been established quite well here as well.
Third, there are a number of global video game companies that have set up their offices in Singapore, for both publishing and development purposes. It shows the importance of Singapore for the regional video game industry.
The theme for the Games Convention Asia is ‘Inspire Yourself’ – why did you choose this motto for this year’s show?
As this is an event for Asia-Pacific region, our core goal is to bring the best of video game industry in Asia-Pacific. Japan, Korea, Europe and the US have been known for their renowned video gaming products and we hope that in the near future, there will be key video game products that come out of Asia-Pacific countries, whose video game industry is still considerably young and less established, like Singapore, Thailand and Philippines. That’s why we think inspiration is the key to creation of strong products and we create GCA as a place for video game industry professionals to get inspired and to reach greater growth for the industry. At the same time, this region is so diverse and there are so many options for the international community.
What is the difference between the European market and the Asian market?
Let me start with the similarity first. In Europe there are many different countries, with different languages and cultures, which is also found in Asia-Pacific. However, European taste and market are closely related to the US market, where retail gaming still dominates the business. Meanwhile in Asia, online multiplayer games for PC is the most played type of games in the region as it is easily accessible, considerably affordable and appealing for Asian gamers who enjoy playing video games with their peers, instead of just playing against the computer.
Given that the games market has also evolved, what do you think is the most challenging or the biggest issue for developers right now?
The biggest challenge is to create a compelling game that attracts everyone. Meaning that this game should not be limited by technology, console or cultural differences. The game should be easily picked up by anybody and he/she can just jump right in and play with the other gamers. I said ‘other gamers’ since it has been proven that most successful games have a very strong multiplayer aspect.
How do the casual games market and the emergence of mass-market gaming impact on the business for game developers?
The game developers are required to develop games that appeal to everyone, not only for gamers or specific group of people, like males between 18-35 years old. For the business point of view, this shows how video games have been accepted as a mainstream entertainment media. Additionally, it means larger business opportunities for video game companies to reach out to the mass-market. Just look at the example of Nintendo with its Wii and DS who has done very well with non-gamers. So yes, casual games – depending on its definition – and mass market gaming already have big impact on the video game industry and I believe that this trend will have a significant impact on the structure of the industry.