After a long wait, Thailand finally has its own startup accelerator for game developers called MSeed. Currently, there are 10 teams that have to go through a three-month bootcamp from July to October to make the best game possible. The teams will receive US$3,145 to help set up, with the actual accelerator programme having a budget of US$3.15 million.
The whole thing is funded by Thailand mobile phone distributor M-Link Asia. Mentors in the programme who help lead these fine talented developers towards the right path include Adrian Crook, former EA Producer; Jordan Blackman, Senior Producer, Ubisoft; and David Ng, CEO, gumi Asia.
Does it make sense? So is there really a scene for Thailand game development, so much so to justify an accelerator problem? Apparently so, according to Saiyai Sakawee, Chief Marketing Officer, MSeed.
The accelerator got started because the group believed in the potential of Thailand’s game designers. “From years of working in the industry, we’ve seen a lot of wonderful talents who just need some mentoring and financial support in order to compete at the world level. The passion, the creativity and the ability to produce great games are already there,” said Sakawee. She added that the teams cover a variety of games from puzzle titles to RPGs.
Thailand’s games market If you couldn’t tell from the main backer of MSeed, the accelerator’s focus is mostly on free-to-play PC and mobile games because of how popular they are in the region. And it all boils down to the piracy issue. “Thailand has been having piracy issues for so long,” said Sakawee. “Thai people are so used to getting pirated games, films, music, and so forth, to the point that they’re not used to the concept of paying for them,” she added. As an offset, users do not mind spending money for in-app purchases if it helps users get ahead of others.
“Free-to-play is quite a popular concept, especially for social games,” said Sakawee, who also added that multiplayer online titles are also just as popular. This is due to the fact that companies like Asiasoft (that distributes Phantasy Star Online 2) and Garena (that have the rights to League of Legends) are promoting their respective moneymaking games heavily. These games are also free-to-play, so that attracts the Thai gaming market even more.
The MSeed startup gaming teams at a workshop with Adrian Crook, former EA developer; and Jordan Blackman, Senior Producer, Ubisoft. Image credit: MSeed
The future After the boot camp, what is next for MSeed? Its main focus is on getting recognised and seeing the success of the teams under the accelerator’s wing. “In the near future,” said Sakawee, “we’d like to be known as the first-ever successful game accelerator in Thailand.” This means that MSeed will provide the best industry-level experts and workshops to help foster growth and possible success. Looking far beyond that, the accelerator’s goal is to support Thai game developers to make their mark on an international level.
Even if you’re not selected as part of the group, Sakawee and her team has some tips a game developer startup needs to know before heading to an accelerator like MSeed. Apart from being passionate about games, teams will need to possess the ability to manage time properly and accomplish the assigned tasks.
Teams must also have a strong vision on how their games should be from pre-production to the final version. Sakawee added that having a positive attitude in the commercial art business is crucial, as making games is also a business in itself. After all, what good is a solid video game if no one else knows about it?
Time will tell if the MSeed programme will actually have successful startups in the games business in Thailand. Still, it’s a positive sign that the country is doing its best to create local talent for an already-brimming video gaming scene.
Garena is a leading Internet company based in Asia, with services spanning entertainment, communication, payments, and m-commerce.
Ubisoft is a leading creator, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and services.
Asiasoft Online is part of the Asiasoft group of publishing companies with a presence in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines serving over 49.5 million registered gamers.