With the imminent release for Atomic Heart, we got the opportunity to talk with the publishers – 4Divinity in an interview on gaming publishing in the Southeast Asia and Asia region.
Keith Liu – Head of Publishing, 4Divinity
Jon Kang – Marketing Manager, Epicsoft Asia
[This interview is edited for clarity]
4Divinity just announced that they’ll have USD $3,700,000 in game fund. Will that fund be only for publishing purposes or acquiring games to publish?
Keith: The game fund is used to support the game development as well as the game publishing community in the Southeast Asian region and this can range from early-stage funding. An example to this would be if certain teams need funding to bring their game to alpha level or to vertical slice, and that they need some funds for it.
If a project has a lot of promise, the game fund is there to support this type of activity on the late stage. If certain companies who already brought the game to beta or almost final build, and they need to look for a publisher to help bring that game to the wider market and localise it.
Or if they need someone to do a physical versions of their game and various of things in the array of publishing services, we can definitely use the fund to help them.
4Divinity are publishing for three titles being Atomic Heart, Windstorm, and Life in Willowdale. Are all of these titles console focused?
Keith: Windstorm and Life in Willowdale are also on PC. That’s more of a co-publishing deal that we did with MindScape. MindScape is based in Europe and with them, it was co-publishing agreement with some of the other titles like with No Place for Bravery.
As with Mundfish, it was more of a direct agreement with the studio to co-publish the game in Asia. Aside from these titles, we do have other projects that are in the pipeline but we’ll share more about them when they’re ready to be shared.
A lot of publishers tend to focus on certain genres that they’ll publish. Does 4Divinity have that kind of strategy or a certain focus in the future?
Keith: We find that both the console and PC market, particularly in our region is very focused on more core games. It’s like the enthusiast core game market.
Jon: Usually, the FPS and AAA kind of games. But no open-world games as they take a long time to develop. Although, we don’t have a specific genre where we have to stick to. It depends on whether the game has appeal or a niche that serves the different timelines because if we just do that for the next three years, we have nothing since it’s still in development.
We would like to broaden our choices, so we wouldn’t want to say a certain genre is either good or bad. Especially for indie games since the range is very wide in terms of what’s good and what isn’t.
Keith: With our team in Epicsoft Asia, we had launched many games over the past 15 to 16 years. We understand that there’s a huge range of genres that the market here enjoys playing, but there are also other titles that’s maybe more niche. We will work on ensuring that whatever titles we publish are befitting for this market.
Most of the game that 4Divinity published are usually very focused in the SEA or Asia regions. Do you have plans to publish games globally?
Keith: Yes, we’re looking towards widening the scope of publishing beyond Asia this year. But we can’t announce anything at this point in time because it’s very game focused. But it’s also case-by-case basis.
In SEA, game publishers are pretty scarce. There are a few big ones, but it’s generally very rare. How does 4Divinity view the gaming market in this region?
Keith: I think a lot of developers themselves today are self-publishing. A lot of the indie titles that you see on Steam, many of them could be from SEA and they actually self-publish sometimes.
The issue is that they don’t a wide type of exposure. One of the issues is resources, and the other might be because they would want to drive their title to a bigger market, which you’ll need to have a more focused activity in terms of marketing and the like.
Based on our experience, and the experience of our team, we’ve dove that successfully. We hope to break the mold and help some of these companies to gain the type of exposure that they need for their titles.
Jon: I don’t think that the market is small, but more about the accessibility and the unique environment of different cultures and different languages. We hope that with the game fund, we can help to do business or provide financial aid for other publishers to step out their comfort zone.
Keith: Even localisation is a big thing where a lot of game might just have it in English, Indonesia or Thai. But what about converting that to other markets like in Chinese or Japanese? Resources are needed for that, especially since a lot of indie games tends to be narrative-heavy. And when it comes to narrative driven games, localisation is crucial.
As part of publishers service, we can help with that front. Obviously, there’s going to be revenue shares and similar things, but we still think that we’ll be able to help generate more interest in titles out of the SEA region.
We would like to thank Keith Liu and Jon Kang for taking the time to answer our questions. Atomic Heart will be released for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, and PC via Steam on 21st February 2023.