Kris Antoni, CEO and co-founder of Toge Productions spoke at Level Up KL 2021 about publishing games to a global audiences- specifically, getting people to take an interest in SEA culture.
In the talk, he highlighted several things stopping local game developers from getting their story out there- with the biggest being a culture shock, causing a lot of unique features to be lost in translation. Worse still, being too foreign might get new audiences to drop it altogether.
Instead, Kris Antoni gave a solution to this problem, which was identifying something your game might have in common with western audiences instead. An example he gave was A Space For The Unbound– a game unabashedly about Indonesian life, but drew inspiration from the works of Makoto Shinkai, who produced popular films such as Your Name.
“Try to find something international audiences can relate to, then take that point to bring them in”, he explained.
“Giving them something familiar as a point of reference makes it easier to jump in”, he also said.
Of course, this wasn’t some ploy to trick people into playing your game. According to Kris, more people playing your game has a lot more benefits to the player than just increasing their number of owned games.
“By trying the game they’re more exposed to new cultures”, he says.
Reaching Your Audience
Of course, another way said, was to be more familiar with the type of audience you want. That also meant identifying key opinion leaders, like streamers, who might introduce your game to a bigger audience.
“If you identify streamers playing games in a similar genre [ to your own], you can approach them”, he says.
He also talked a bit about the current more digital approach to exhibitions thanks to the ongoing pandemic, which has worked out a lot better for smaller games.
“We can be on the same stage as international developers,” Kris says. “The playing field has been leveled”.
One more piece of advice that Kris gave was to start small. While everyone wants to start with their magnum opus, Kris cautioned that it was better to make room for what he described as “failing forward”- that is, making mistakes in a way that you can still recover and learn from them.
He cautioned that a lack of experienced developers could be the downfall of some projects:
“This might lead to unrealistic expectations, or scope creep”, he says.
One way you could do this, he explained, was making use of platforms like itch.io- these let you get your prototypes out for the public to play, and you could easily tune it for feedback or even start getting an audience.
However, he says the most important thing would be to just keep making games. Even if your current one flops, as long as you have a safety net you can keep working on your next one.
Kris Antoni also mentioned the Toge Games Fund Initiative– a grant made with the purposes of giving you room to fail forward, by mitigating some of the financial risks. As we’d covered before, the grant comes with no strings attached- save for reserving the right of first refusal to Toge.
He also invited more developers to apply for the fund, which still had slots open but were filling fast.