THE thought of starting an independent game studio (or indies) may not be scary or daunting as it used to be back in the day, as the environment has become more encouraging in Malaysia over the years.
According to market research company Statista, revenue in mobile games amounted to US$288 million in 2018 and is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.4%. In fact, the average revenue per user (ARPU) currently amounts to US$31.01.
All these facts point to fertile ground for budding mobile game developers like Lim Shan Fei (pic, right). Lim decided to leave his job at local games studio Passion Republic, a well-known studio behind triple-A games like League of Legends, Dark Souls III and Uncharted: Lost Legacy, to strike it out on his own in 2016.
He founded his own company Why Creative and is focusing on Iteno, his next passion project. The casual puzzle game for smartphones is currently being worked on by Lim’s four-people team at their office in Petaling Jaya.
Iteno wants to break the mould as it seeks to differentiate itself from the masses of strategy, farming and match-3 games on the mobile game scene by adopting a puzzle style of game that focuses on maths to solve problems.
“The idea for Iteno came from Sudoku and the lesser known Kakuro, a logic puzzle that is often referred to as the mathematical equivalent of a crossword puzzle,” explained Lim, who acts as the president of Why Creative.
The problem with many puzzle games for mobile devices is that they tend to be aimed towards kids only.
Iteno is slated to be available for iOS and Android devices. It is essentially Lim’s love letter to maths games that is intended to make maths fun even for people who don’t enjoy doing maths in school.
“It is a game that is aimed towards casual players who love puzzle and maths games. My main challenge in making the game is to find that right balance between making it challenging yet fun,” he said.
“We want to show that within maths there are certain patterns that you can recognise. Once you do, even performing daily calculations will be easier.”
As with most mobile games, Lim is opting to make Iteno a freemium game, meaning to say that there will be In-App Purchases (IAP) and at the same time there will be video advertisements.
Throughout the course of the game, Iteno will offer players the choice to buy power-ups to help them clear difficult puzzles or they can earn them by performing daily tasks for rewards.
Lim has been busy travelling between different trade shows on the lookout for publishers to help publish their game in different regions.
Why Creative participated at China’s largest gaming and digital entertainment exhibition ChinaJoy 2018 in Shanghai back in August as well as Tokyo Game Show 2018 in Japan to find potential publishers in Japan and Korea.
Lim said that Why Creative met two potential publishers CheetahMobile and Netmarble during the exhibition. Iteno has currently been sent for testing between the two publishers.
Iteno will also be showcased during the upcoming Level Up KL 2018 at the end of October 2018 where it will be on exhibit alongside numerous other projects by game developers from around Southeast Asia.
He foresees that the discussion with the various publishers will take a long time until the release date of the game. If all goes according to plan, he hopes to release the game by November or December 2018.
Lim adds that he is on the lookout for potential investors to invest in their next game and he is very excited about it.