Category: Creative Economy By : Yessar Rosendar Read : 1040 Date : Friday, February 13, 2015 - 19:01:49

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Arief Widhiyasa, chief executive of Agate Studio, does this by splitting his gaming business into corporate and mass market games. “Entertainment games have a big risk but infinite profits if they become a hit, while games for clients have almost no risk,” says Arief Widhiyasa, 26.

    Arief and Agate are pioneers of the Indonesian gaming industry. Although well developed elsewhere, there were few game developers when Arief and 17 others founded Agate in 2009 in Bandung. The 18 founders knew each other mostly as students at the Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB). A computer science major, Arief dropped out to focus on building the company. None of the 18 had any real business or gaming experience at the time.

    Despite the motto of the company being “live the fun way,” the firm struggled in the beginning. At first, the founders earned only about $5 a month, and their collective lack of experience meant the company almost went bankrupt after about six months.

    Things turned around dramatically in 2010 when Agate picked up contracts to develop games for Cornetto ice cream and Ford for its Fiesta model. Its big hit came the same year when it released one of its first mass market games, Earl Grey and This Rupert Guy. The game hit one million players in its first week of launch. In February 2011, they followed up with Football Saga, which had 58,000 monthly users.

    To date, Agate has developed more than 100 games and has more than 70 employees, making it one of the largest game developers in the country. In 2013, it announced a partnership with Square Enix, one of Japan’s top gaming companies. Last year it was selected as one of the companies mentored by Endeavor Indonesia, an NGO that helps develop startup companies.

    The company focuses in developing games for the Indonesia market as it sees the market is still growing, especially in the mobile platform such as for smartphones and tablets. It focused on the local market as it realized that it is still lagging behind compared to other developers in developed countries that have decades of experience. “We have to catch up first in terms of experience, so we want to grow and learn from the local market,” Arief says.

    In addition to its local focus, Arief also wants to start expanding to other countries as Indonesia is still a small market, marked by red tape. In 2014 it is estimated that there are 26 million PC gamers with $136 million of revenue, still behind Thailand, with $183 million, and Vietnam, with $291 million, according to researcher Niko Partners.