Not too long ago (June 2014), the Media Development Authority Singapore (MDA) made the unique move to send out a call for proposals from local game developers to create mobile games that showcased the country’s unique culture, history and iconic personalities in celebration of the nation’s 50th Anniversary (coined SG50).
It might seem a little strange to hold a tribute by way of game development, as it’s not an industry Singapore is commonly associated with. In fact, in certain sections, you’ll hear that Singaporeans aren’t exactly bubbling with creativity. However, the island-nation’s game development scene has been quietly, but steadily, growing. Especially so with the rise of homegrown studios such as Witching Hour Studios, the people behind the popular Ravenmark mobile game series. In 2014, Singapore also played host to GameStart Asia, it’s very own gaming convention that’s set to be an annual event.
I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Joachim Ng, Director, Industry Operations, Media Development Authority of Singapore, who felt that local studios have come into their own and ready to compete:
Firstly, why use games as a tribute?
Today, more and more people are playing games… from the young to the old. Almost everyone has a smartphone and we felt that mobile games would be very accessible and reach the widest audience.
What do you think about the Singapore game development industry?
The game development industry is not uniform–you have developers that work on PC games, console games and mobile games. We have strength in mobile games. 80% of our industry today is in mobile game development. If you take a look at the top tier, we have developers that are just as good as anyone out there. The quality of games that have been coming out over the last few years has been very good–they’ve won awards and achieved commercial success.
International companies have increasingly decided to work out of Singapore.. such as Gumi (creators of the top-grossing Brave Frontier and Disney’s Big Hero 6 Bot Fight). What kind of affect do you think that has on the industry?
Companies like Gumi are not only developers, but publishers as well. Local developers now have the opportunity to meet these publishers face-to-face in Singapore who can then promote and market their games.
What do you think about the perceived ‘lack of creativity’ in Singapore?
I think that we’ve always had a very creative segment in Singapore. Where we have fallen short in the past was in the execution. The ideas were always creative… but that has changed. In the last few years we’ve now got creative people, creative talent and the execution is also on par with the best. So now you’re seeing good game concepts, good programming and good launch of the game. The whole value chain is now up to standard. The polish on the games is now very good.