According to Newzoo’s report to November 2022, Southeast Asia is one of the regions with the fastest mobile game market growth in 2022, with Vietnam ranking 3rd in terms of the number of mobile game players in region, 54.6 million, with revenue of 507 million USD.
This May, the App Store launched the “May The Games Begin” campaign with a focus on mobile games and all the activities around to bring unique games to users. In particular, the App Store also spends a full month honoring games from independent developers in Southeast Asia, including the Vietnamese market.
App Store introduces key games from Southeast Asia
When accessing the App Store, users around the world can see a list of “Games from Southeast Asia that we love”, with the description “Southeast Asia has no shortage of good things. to bring to the world: incredible culture, some of the best food in the world, and great indie games. There’s a lot of talent in this area and the games they’ve created deserve your congratulations and attention. These are just a few of the titles we love. Let’s play together.”
The list includes indie games from countries in the region: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Surfing to Vietnam, we felt quite…unlike with games like Sky Dancer: Escaping from Eden and CocoMonster.io.
List of Vietnamese games
Learn about Topebox – the studio that created Sky Dancer and CocoMonster.io, we met Mr. Thai Thanh Liem – Founder and CEO of this studio. According to Mr. Liem’s share with us, Topebox has created many popular games in major markets such as the US, Japan and China. In 2018, Sky Dancer part 1 beat a series of big names to lead the App Store chart in China, while last year Titan Hunters became a phenomenon in Japan when it was a rare game in the country. in addition to reaching the top 3 on the App Store, reaching the top trending on Twitter, and appearing on more than 50 newspapers in this country. These are relatively impressive achievements for an indie game studio whose team is entirely Vietnamese.
We spoke with Mr. Thai Thanh Liem to learn more about the App Store-honored indie game studio in Southeast Asia.
Since when did Topebox think about bringing the game abroad?
I and some partners who founded Topebox later started making games from the early days of the App Store launch. At that time, Vietnamese personnel were famous for their game processing skills. That’s a good point, but I find that my former colleagues at Gameloft do not appreciate the creative capacity of Vietnamese games. When the App Store was born, my friends and I realized that this was a good opportunity to show the world the game making ability of Vietnamese people. Therefore, we built Topebox with the desire to change the way the world looks at Vietnam’s creative capacity. It is still part of Topebox’s vision at the moment, but we have an additional mission to encourage game makers in Vietnam to be bold on the path of experimentation, innovation, and creativity.
How do you evaluate the competition in the current game market, compared to the time when Topebox was founded?
In my opinion, the competition of the gaming industry in general has not changed much. 10 years ago, there were many game makers participating in the market, the difference is that the current market has expanded a lot more than before, so even though more studios are opened, the opportunity for all is still there. have a lot of.
Even so, in an ever-expanding and rapidly evolving market like games, many developers opt for the “fast-follow” approach – jumping in, following previous and available game content on the web. market, then changed to make it more accessible to players. This trend has exploded in the past 5 years in the international market. This approach helps limit the risk of failure for indie studios, but as these “fast-follow” games flood the market and many people jump in, the value of creative studios like Topebox is increasingly being enhanced, especially in markets with a large user base and high requirements.
In general, the market changes but our orientation from 2012 to now makes us more confident and steadfast in keeping that way. This year, we launched a product line and it stayed true to the style we’ve always followed: the game had to be unique and the players had to have a new experience. This is also one of our efforts to create more value for the domestic game industry, instead of “ripping” the cake of other brothers in the industry.
So Topebox’s game will focus on “new” instead of “easy to play”?
The nature of mobile games is easy to play, so we still design the game so that users feel easy to play. But what we want to do is to bring a new and fun gameplay experience that not only brings joy to players, but also creates excitement for the entire gaming ecosystem.
Which market do Topebox’s game players come from the most?
With a studio with a slightly “bad” game-making culture like Topebox, people want to explore a variety of genres. That’s why Topebox’s games are everywhere, with games that attract many players in the US, and popular games in China and Japan. Although we are creative, we do market research, and we know for sure which markets are potential.
What is the role of the Vietnamese market with Topebox?
In fact, we have only recently focused on the Vietnamese market. Before, we focused on creativity and flexibility, but this year, we have transformed to be more in line with the policies and procedures for applying for a game license in Vietnam. Going forward, I think Vietnam is a market that accounts for about 50% of our game players.
Up to now, how many games has Topebox created?
We have created more than 80 titles.
In order for my game to appear on the App Store, is Topebox influenced by the App Store team, or do they have instructions on how to make the game top?
For me, the work of putting a game on the App Store is nothing special, the important thing is the process of us taking the idea, creating it, and perfecting the product. The most desirable thing for me and the team is to bring the game to the App Store ecosystem as quickly as possible to see how the players react to their “child”.
The common point between Topebox and the App Store, and that may also be the criterion that helps this studio’s games regularly appear in the rankings of the platform is the innovative and different thinking. The App Store doesn’t have any impact on the studios, and the games are made in the direction the developers want instead of the App Store required for the game to make it to the top. Topebox has always adhered to the principle that games should always be new and different, and the App Store strongly supports that mindset.
Topebox games are introduced on the AppStore, appear in the Game of the month, of the day, during special events. How does that affect the company?
For Topebox, being introduced by the App Store not only helps the studio increase revenue thanks to its popularity with many players, but also is a great motivation for the creative human resources in the company. You guys make games not necessarily for money, but you need recognition for your brains and efforts. The fact that the game is introduced on the App Store is a pride not only for me but also for all of you, giving everyone more motivation to make the next game or to continue that project.
The game Sky Dancer: Escaping from Eden was introduced by the App Store in the “Our Favorite” section.
How would you rate the overall level of games on the Vietnam App Store compared to the AppStores of other countries?
It is easy to see that the Top 100 games on the Vietnam App Store have almost no games developed by Vietnamese people, but the Top 100 in China and Japan have very few foreign games. At the same time, Vietnamese users are raising their standards for games and demanding higher quality titles. This fact is the driving force for Topebox to change, and the new CoCoMonster.io game released on March 17 is one of our first steps towards creating a game that celebrates creativity and innovation. new, and really for Vietnamese users. This year, Topebox aims to invest half of its budget in game development for the Vietnamese market, with 10-20 draft games under development.
As for the quality of games on the Vietnam App Store and the App Store in other countries, they are almost equivalent, even for me, Vietnam’s gaming tastes are quite high. Although Vietnam’s game development industry is still young, the game market has been developed for a long time, players also know how to choose games to play, so the quality of the game is also very high.