AppXplore explores new horizons [Digital News Asia]

  • Aims to be a mobile game publisher, invest in promising studios
  • Latest game Alien Path follows its highly successful Crab Wars

MALAYSIAN-based mobile game studio AppXplore Sdn Bhd, fully owned by venture accelerator Fatfish Internet Group Limited’s investment arm, iCandy Interactive, is looking to move up the value chain into the world of game publishing.

“Now that we have built up our reputation and user base, it is time for us to move into publishing,” said AppXplore chief executive officer and co-founder Desmond Lee.

“If there is a local developer or one from the region that is outstanding and is looking for a publisher, we would be willing to step in and invest in the game as well. Let’s say that the game is almost complete, we can polish it up and help get it out of the door,” he said.

In terms of game development, the studio is targeting to make three to four smaller games in 2017, which may include spin-off m existing games in its stable.

AppXplore is also exploring the prospect of making their first 3D game should it make sense from a game design perspective.

Developing a 3D game, however, does require additional manpower, noted Lee, with as many as 10 people devoted to a 3D game project in comparison to just five when working on a 2D game.

Regional Aspirations
As AppXplore starts exploring making investment, its parent company, iCandy Interactive announced its most recent acquisition yesterday having entered into a term sheet to acquire 100% interest in Singapore-based Inzen Studio Pte Ltd valued at US$4 million (S$6 million).

Inzen is a mobile game company that works with strategic partners to establish programmes to incubate new game companies in South-East Asia (SEA) and co-publish their games.

The acquisition is expected to bring synergies across game development, publishing and allow Inzen to leverage upon iCandy’s network of more than 17 million mobile-gamers, which includes AppXpres gamers, in Asia Pacific.

Prior to this Inzen had secured investments from other major institutional investors such as Incubate Fund from Japan, Hatcher from Singapore and from strategic partner, Baidu Games, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese Internet giant Baidu Inc.

The Inzen acquisition aside, iCandy is also looking at investing in three to four game studios in SEA with a focus on Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.

Not just a follower
As AppXplore looks to move up the publishing value chain, developing Intellectual Property (IP) is crucial in today’s mobile games market to differentiate its offerings from the rest.

Lee cited how integral it was for the studio to find its own identity and make the games that it wanted.

“The only way to stand out is to be unique. Don’t just follow the trends, sometimes you have to take a risk and develop an IP that is different from the rest,” he said.

In AppXplore’s case, the studio of five years has carved a niche for itself as a specmaking 2D puzzle based games.

To date, it has a total of seven games under its belt and attracted over one million downloads, which is no small feat from a small game studio.

In fact, AppXplore’s biggest player base are in the United States and Europe which respectively account for 40% and 20% of the total players while Asia counts for the remaining 40%.

The studio’s latest title Alien Path is an addictive puzzle game that combines elements of turn-based strategy, match-three and path drawing, and is currently in its soft launch phase with a release slated for the fourth quarter of 2016.

“At the moment we are testing the game and collecting data to understand player behaviour and to see how to best monetize the game,” explained chief creative officer Lim Jenn-Yu.

“Player retention is crucial for us as compared to the number of downloads,” he adds.

“That is why we are focused primarily on making puzzle games on mobile as it is a genre that we know best.”

Alien Path is AppXplore’s seconnd comes hot on the heels of its most successful game to date, Crab War, which was released in May 2016.