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The novel coronavirus has dealt heavy blows to many industries, yet it has also presented new business opportunities for sectors such as digital entertainment, of which game development is a key component. Although countries like the United States, Japan and China have well-established in the gaming market, Hong Kong’s game developers are starting to shine. As the city’s leading digital technology community, Cyberport has supported a number of promising game developers. Their work is available as mobile games, games for home consoles and arcade games. Their varied styles have attracted local gamers and are also enjoyed by overseas players.
Eric Chan, Cyberport’s Chief Public Mission Officer, said, “Industry research institute Newzoo has raised its 2020 global game market size estimate by 10 percent, to US$175 billion. This shows that there are enormous business opportunities in the gaming industry even amid the pandemic. Hong Kong’s cultural and creative industry has been well received by local and overseas audiences. Our excellent media production and international business acumen have also laid a solid foundation for the growth of game development. We have seen more game development start-ups leveraging the Cyberport Incubation Programme for business development support. Designated quotas are allocated for digital entertainment start-ups, including game developers. We look forward to seeing the digital entertainment industry provide a career path along which our young people can demonstrate their creativity.”
Diversified Mobile Game Ideas
Mobile gaming is a rapidly growing market thanks to continuous smartphone feature enhancements and the launch of the 5G network. Newzoo has even raised its annual revenue forecast for the mobile games market from US$77.2 billion to US$86.3 billion. The Cyberport Incubation Programme has cultivated a number of mobile game developers, who have produced games catering to diverse user preferences ranging from mysteries to car racing, exploration and business simulation.
Genuine Studio Ltd. specialises in mystery games with Hong Kong characteristics. The company’s “Dangerous Man”, based on well-known crime cases in the city, has recorded 500,000 downloads since its release last year. Its latest game, “Rainy Butcher”, was officially released this month. The game features the Hong Kong cityscape, and the player plays as a reporter investigating a killer. The game is dubbed in Cantonese for local players and the company plans to roll out an English version early next year. The two games have been recognised in the first two editions of the Hong Kong Game Enhancement and Promotion Scheme, organised by the Hong Kong Digital Entertainment Association respectively.
A game must be extraordinary to stand out amongst the wide variety of car racing games already on the market. Cyberport incubatee Twitchy Finger made a name for itself with its release of “Mini Legend” five years ago. The game’s greatest appeal is that it features over 100 different vehicle models, enabling players to customise their ideal racing car with several hundred vehicle components. The game’s features are continually updated in order to extend its lifespan and attract new players. So far, more than 6.4 million downloads have been recorded worldwide. Late last year the company released a sequel, “APEX RACER”. With an expanded list of game rules and racing tracks, this game has recorded more than 600,000 downloads.
Like competitive games, casual games have won over fans, and they make up one of the largest gaming genres on the market. Earlier this year, Trefle & Co. released “Dashero: Sword & Magic”. This action role-playing game allows players to navigate through mazes, using their sword and magic and fighting evil monsters along the way. The game features stunning animation and can be played with one hand – qualities that target commuters who simply want to kill some time. This game was featured in the second edition of the Hong Kong Game Enhancement and Promotion Scheme.
Unique Experiences with Home Consoles and Arcade Games
Besides mobile games, some local teams have also developed games for home consoles. One such company is Cyberport incubatee Anti Gravity. The company was founded in 2017, and by early 2019 it had released “Hell Warders”, an action tower defense role-playing game which already has PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox versions. So far, more than 10,000 physical games and 40,000 digital games have been sold worldwide. Another Cyberport incubatee, Archon Forge, will roll out the PC version of its “Demon Knights” game as soon as March 2021. The company also plans to release other home video game versions of the action role-playing game. Both titles are multi-player games in which users can form their own teams to join in the fun.
While mobile and console games continue to grab the market’s attention, arcade games occupy a niche market. They currently flourish across the Chinese mainland, Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States, where they are commonly seen in local department stores and family amusement centres. Cyberport incubatee 3MindWave developed the “ATV Slam” racing game, which provides multiple tracks for players to experience the thrill of these routes. More than 400 “ATV Slam” games have been sold globally, with further promotions planned for Southeast Asia and Europe.
VR Games Excite the Senses
Cyberport incubatee VAR LIVE tackles the virtual reality gaming sector. It has developed multiple VR games, from horror zombie games to family-friendly cartoon adventures. To offer users the best gaming experience, the company has invested in developing its own hardware. In order to promote VR games, it operates studios where players can enjoy the VR experience. In the long term, the company expects players to purchase VR games online so they can enjoy the fun in the comfort of their own homes.
Nurturing Digital Entertainment and e-Sports Start-ups
There are now close to 150 digital entertainment and esports companies in the Cyberport community, of which over 60 are engaged in gaming development. As a promoter of Hong Kong’s digital entertainment and esports industry, Cyberport provides one-stop entrepreneurial support. Through initiatives including the Cyberport Incubation Programme and the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund, start-ups can receive up to HK$1.1 million in financial aid, plus other forms of assistance.