We recently caught up with Garibaldy W. Mukti, co-founder of Nightspade, a mobile game development startup in Indonesia to get a deep dive in the Indonesian mobile gaming industry.
From college assignment to a mobile game development company
At first we didn’t even imagine that we would build our own company. We were just ordinary college students but with a keen interest in developing games. We, the 4 founders, were assigned together on a same task in college that was to build a game. Coincidentally there was an event being held in our college, Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), named ITB Digital Media Festival (DMF) at the same time. We submitted our assignment in Game Development category and fortunately won the same.
Our story was covered in a local newspaper and a new incubator, I2TB (Inkubator Inovasi Telematika Bandung), invited us to join them. So, Nightspade was established unofficially in college but became fully focused on game industry since 2011. In college days, we accepted any outsourced development such as website, databse, etc in the beginning. In our first year, Nightspade was driven by the slogan PALUGADA - Whatever you desire, we’ll deliver. By joining I2TB, we learnt a lot about managing a company and got to know the value of being focused on a specialization and we choose to be in the game industry.
When we decided to just focus on gaming industry, our incoming projects reduced drastically. We were taking a decision to focus on qauality rather than quantity and it felt risky but eventually it turned out to be in our favor. After we focused on mobile gaming business, we are increasingly recognized and regarded as the only company in Indonesia with uncanny competence in mobile game development.
More about Nightspade
Nightspade is a company focused on mobile game development for smartphones. Our studio is located in the city of Bandung, Indonesia and we run both B2C and B2B businesses. In B2B, we accept outsourcing projects in developing mobile games, and we also create and publish our own IP to the market.
Our target market are the casual gamers but we’re also aiming for midcore players, who according to the statistics, spend more. The right target market for each of Nightspade’s game is different. Really depends on the gameplay. To publish our game, we usually have partnership with 3rd party entity. They can be publishers, promotion agencies, or even other companies. Since we’re more focus in the development itself, we need help on the promotional side.
Early 2011 we got our first investment from East Ventures and they hold minor equity share. But they help us with networking and mentoring, and this is a lot more of value addition than the amount of investment itself.
Up until now, we have 9 titles on the market (itunes, google play, windows store, and nokia store). Our latest one is Give a Dam, collaborating with Chupa Chups brand. It is a physics puzzle game. Also we have collaborated with US publisher, Gamenauts on Nuclear Outrun.
We keep learning and observing our market, tradition, technology, competitor, organization and management. We don’t want to settle on common products. We long for people to trust us as a company with astounding competence in our industry.
Deep dive in the Indonesian mobile gaming industry
Ever since 2000, game industry in Indonesia is expanding. This is proved by the increasing number of game development studios in major cities in Indonesia, such as Bandung, Jakarta, Jogya, and Surabaya. Some universities have opened new courses for game development, there are more and more events around it being held in Indonesia, like Jakarta Game Show, Indonesia Game show, and Game Developer Gathering too. Some of us are even getting invited to join international events like Tokyo Game Show, Game Connection etc.
Indonesia is one of the biggest mobile phone markets, considering the number of people here and mobile penetration. Feature phones still dominate the market and in smartphone market, Blackberry and Symbian OS are on top two places (statcounter.com 2011). Both these are not suitable for playing games. Although, Android devices are increased dramatically, it is still difficult to monetize in it because Indonesia’s bureaucracy is complicated. Many local game publishers appearing in the market is a positive sign though.
But we still cannot compare Indonesia’s mobile gaming market with other countries. The maturity gap in Indonesia’s mobile gaming industry is about 15-20 years. Compared with Japan, the number is even higher. Though the number of the developers in Indonesia is lower, but the skills of are comparable with those in other countries. We still need to hone our skills in gameplay and art style aspects. We have less experience in publishing, so we still establish partnership with overseas publishers.
Viewed from the side of business in mobile gaming industry, Indonesia has the advantage in a strong social community and fast growing market. Indonesia has large and fast growing market with strong social tendencies. If we can create multiplayer game, social game or something that requires an interaction with others, we believe our game will spread very quickly.
Indonesia’s startup space
In 2008, we saw a lot of startups emerge and a most of them died very soon too but from last year things are much better. Many quality startups are now emerging in e-commerce- fashion, online travel agents, beauty products etc, classified advertisements, mobile apps and video games market. With around 50 million internet users in the country, one may think that social media is a sexy business in Indonesia but due to challenges in monetization in this space, it is actually not. More focus is definitely on B2C instead of B2B.
Startup community is still developing and not yet established in Indonesia. Lack of mentors & funding, negligible support from most of the universities, and the Indonesian affection towards foreign products as compared to local ones are some of the major hurdles that need to be overcome. For anyone starting up here, the first and foremost need is to understand the culture and the way Indonesians think.