Gateway to the Asian games market

Danial Norjidi

The G-Star 2019 Global Game Exhibition recently highlighted some of the latest developments in the videogame industry when it took place on November 14-16 at the Busan Exhibition & Convention Centre (BEXCO).

Launched in 2005, G-Star is an annual South Korean computer and video game trade and consumer show that aims to be the one-stop, easily-accessible gateway to Eastern markets, and takes place annually in Busan, South Korea.

With one of the most active and developed gaming markets behind it, the biggest players in publishing, development and investment gather at G-STAR every year to do business and set the industry trends.

Organised by the Korea Association of Game Industry (K-GAMES) and co-organised by G-STAR Organizing Committee and Busan IT Industry Promotion Agency, G-STAR is described as “the best gateway to the Asian games market”.

One of the standout parts of G-Star 2019 was the ASEAN Pavilion, a special pavilion where 33 game companies from nine ASEAN countries, including four from Brunei Darussalam, were recently featured. The special display saw participating companies showcase their game content and products and seek partnership with Korean counterparts.

Visitors try out a mobile game at the annual South Korean computer and video game trade and consumer show, G-Star. PHOTOS: MUIZ MATDANI
G-Star is an annual South Korean computer and video game trade and consumer show that aims to be the one-stop, easily-accessible gateway to Eastern markets, and takes place annually in Busan, South Korea.
Participants from Brunei at the ASEAN Pavilion of G-Star 2019. PHOTOS: MUIZ MATDANI
Visitors try out a virtual reality game
ABOVE & BELOW: Models dressed as characters from Magic: The Gathering; and cosplayers pose for photos outside the G-Star venue

One of the displays at G-Star 2019
Visitors had the opportunity to try out new games

One of the four Bruneian companies to participate at the ASEAN Pavilion of G-Star was Pixelated, a company that focuses on mobile gaming development.

As Pixelated Founder and CEO Izzuddin Hussin explained, “We have released six games – four done by us and two by our interns from local universities as projects. We do not have a specific genre but we do create games based on the current trends, combined with some Bruneian culture.”

“Among all the games, Gyro Gasing is one of our most downloaded game, where almost one thousand downloads are made in Indonesia alone.”

“This is our first time joining G-Star Global Game Exhibition. The opportunity arose when DARe announced that four gaming companies would be selected to represent Brunei to attend the exhibition in Busan, Korea.”

Speaking on the experience at G-Star, he said, “It was amazing. I learnt a lot from the networking that I have done. It was also an eye opener; seeing all the gaming companies from ASEAN countries and all around the world made me more hyped and determined to make it big one day.”

On their future plans, he said, “Next, we are planning to create more games and improve our process and connect with the people we meet to do marketing overseas.”

Another to participate from Brunei was Quembara Interactive, a game development company that was founded by six people in August 2019.

As Quembara Interactive Enterprise CEO and Co-Founder Rabiatul Adawiyah binti Mudim Haji Amran explained, “At the moment, we are focusing on trying to make small games to build our skills and knowledge on game development and publish the games as part of our portfolio.

“We would like to focus our attention to build educational games in fun and interactive ways as well as including elements of Brunei traditions and culture,” she added.

So far they have made a demo game called Quembara Game and a prototype game called Brunei Virtual Museum, while three new games are currently under development – one with a pixel art game style, one on Brunei traditional games, and a card game.

Speaking on the G-Star event, Rabiatul shared, “My main goal in this G-Star event was to get inspired to get my company started and to see whether Brunei has the potential to be in the industry. Based from my personal experience in G-Star, it was very eye-opening because there are so many things going on in the gaming industry and how this industry actually creates jobs and professions for people in the creative and gaming field which contributes in the growth of the economy of the country.”

“It was indeed a worthwhile experience and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to come over to the event and witness how amazing it will be if there is a Gaming Industry in Brunei as well.”

She said that one of the main highlights in the BTB (Business to Business) area was getting to meet with the other game companies from ASEAN countries and interact with them on how they are doing in the gaming industry in terms of developing and publishing their games.

“Another main highlight was visiting in the BTC (Business to Consumer) area where the great games like PUBG and Call of Duty have their booths set up for the consumers to get interactive experiences, play their games and receiving free goodies from them.”

On what is next for her and the company, she said, “Reflecting back on my experience from the G-Star event, I realise we need to develop the gaming industry in Brunei first. We need to build the community and support for local game development like inviting the talented youths to game jam events for developing games in a few days and provide grants and funding to continue their work.”

“Also to involve growing the e-sports industry, to train them for competition outside Brunei and make gaming as an option for a career in Brunei,” she continued. “A lot of work, research and planning needs to be done from our side and also from the big local companies to sponsor us as we are just a small start-up with a big dream to build the gaming industry in Brunei.”

Game On, a leading Esports company in Brunei Darussalam was another participant from the country.

Founder of Game On Amar Agus Din shared, “I have always been in the gaming scene since I am a member of the local gaming group, ‘Bruplay’ – the host of the first gaming event in Brunei way back before it was even known as Esports,” he said. “I want to continue its legacy and, after countless rejections from companies trying to introduce and host Esports events, I decided to make my own – Game On.”

Speaking on his participation in G-Star, he said, “To sum up the experience in one word – awesome! It was worthwhile for me, both personally and for Game On.”

Sharing some of his highlights, he said, “I got to meet game developers and even tried their games before their release date. I got to exchange information with the event organizer and learn a few things along the way, and hopefully Game On can create an event at that scale in Brunei. Maybe, one day.”

“It was nice sharing the booth with some fellow Bruneians as we managed to bond during our stay and yes, we are planning to collaborate with one another,” he added.

On what he plans to do next, he said, “Keep on going and push on. We have a few projects for 2020 in place.”

A fourth participant from Brunei was ItsyBytes Company, a game software development company that focuses on creating social-challenge game applications and has expertise in developing virtual reality software and augmented reality technology. At G-Star, ItsyBytes was represented by Founder and CEO Ikmalina Yunos.

Hosted by the ASEAN-Korea Centre, the ASEAN Pavilion was organised under the theme “ASEAN ‘plays’ the future”.

Secretary General of the ASEAN-Korea Centre Lee Hyuk said, “Games account for the biggest share of Korea’s cultural content exports. Korea exported a total of USD9.5 billion in cultural content, 67 per cent of which was from the game industry.”

“As domestic game market reaches maturity, Korean companies will need to pioneer new markets for continued growth. Meanwhile, the ASEAN game market is fast-growing, and is expected to reach BND4.6 billion in sales this year, which is a 22 per cent increase from last year.”

“With a young population and a high-proportion of internet-users, the Southeast Asian region’s game market has high potential for growth and therefore is an attractive market for many Korean companies. Cooperation and partnership in this area between ASEAN and Korea will allow the game companies in the two regions to make headway in the global gaming market,” he added.