JollyWood by Tecomo Koei Singapore

It's definitely a proud moment for Singapore. A Facebook game, JollyWood.

Will it be a great success? It's said that the game is aimed at women. Heh. Why the gender-limitation? Or has there been any survey or study done which leads to the findings that lady gamers are the better consumers, that is to say, they're more willing to spend money buy in-game items? Heh.

TECMO Koei's Singapore studio will be leading the Japanese video gaming giant's charge into the hot new area of social games.

On Thursday morning at 7am, Tecmo Koei Singapore will launch Jollywood, its first wholly made-in-Singapore game and the group's maiden international foray into a new game genre popularised by the likes of Mafia Wars and Farmville.

In recent years, social games, a relatively new genre that emphasises softer aspects like community and do not have pre-set victory conditions compared to traditional achievement-oriented video games, have enjoyed explosive growth alongside social networking sites like Facebook.

And unlike charging players a one-off purchase for the game, social games make money by getting their players to make smaller, but more frequent in-game purchases like bonus items.

The business model has turned out to be hugely lucrative for social game upstarts like Zynga, so much so that some market analysts are suggesting they may be worth as much as older, far more established players like Electronic Arts.

And Tecmo Koei, formed from a 2009 merger of Tecmo - the company behind titles like Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden and Koei, the famous studio that created the Romance of Three Kingdoms franchise - wants a piece of this action.

From Straits Times, "Tecmo Koei Singapore to launch 'Jollywood' Thursday".

SINGAPORE game developers are upping the ante with new titles targeting millions of gamers worldwide.

The Singapore studio of Japanese firm Tecmo Koei – famed for its Romance Of The Three Kingdoms games – is launching an online social-networking game called JollyWood today.

The first Facebook title for the Singapore studio, it was made almost entirely here, right from the concept stage.

It is a strategic move by Tecmo Koei to ride on the wave of social gaming, which could see new games in its established franchises, and the Singapore office will focus mostly on making social games.

JollyWood took about a year to be made and is aimed at women.

Mr Shintaro Kobayashi, president and chief operating officer of Tecmo Koei Singapore, said the firm's first target for JollyWood is to hit 10 million users globally "as soon as possible".

"We want to expand...globally through social games, particularly into the casual game market," said Mr Kobayashi, whose firm has traditionally focused on more complex gaming titles.

The Singapore studio plans to release another social game and two cellphone titles within a year. And to ramp up production, it will raise its headcount to 70 next year, up from 40. More than 85 per cent of its staff are Singaporeans or permanent residents.

Other game developers here are also making games for a global market.

Home-grown firm Mikoishi is launching a fantasy online multiplayer game called Dark Grounds in the fourth quarter in Singapore, and across Europe in the first quarter of next year.

A United States release for the game is scheduled for the second quarter of next year, and the rest of the world thereafter.

Mikoishi co-founder Amy Chang said that the firm aims to distribute Dark Grounds to over one million gamers.

More than 30 people worked on the title, with over 75 per cent of them being Singaporeans. Developing Dark Grounds took over two years and cost more than $5 million.

Another Singapore firm, Red Hare Studios, plans to release a Web-based game called Dynasty Online in the third quarter, with North America, South-east Asia and Europe as its primary markets.

The game cost about $500,000 to develop over a period of 20 months.

Red Hare is also releasing a 3-D action platformer called Spell Caster next year on Sony's online-game platform, the PlayStation Network, which is accessible to over 30 million Sony PlayStation 3 console users.

The game is being made with help from Nanyang Polytechnic's (NYP) Games Resource Centre.

This year, RealU, the Singapore subsidiary of German firm dtp entertainment, intends to launch a super-secretive science-fiction online role-playing game based on the acclaimed Otherland books by US writer Tad Williams, according to the game's website.

RealU currently employs 70 people, with 20 to 30 per cent being Singaporeans or permanent residents.

Game development here is focused on simple-to-pick-up casual games for now.
Mr Daniel Tan, director of the NYP's School of Interactive & Digital Media, said that many home-grown firms are developing casual games for international markets but "not at the AAA level yet".

A boost for the games industry here is coming up in the third quarter as a Games Solution Centre is set to open in Mediapolis to help develop and commercialise games.

From Asiaone, "S'pore games aim for world stage".

Singapore gaming firm Tecmo Koei has launched a new Facebook game.

The maker of popular action games such as Ninja Gaiden and Dynasty Warriors is hoping to tap the over 600 million users of the social networking site.

JollyWood is a simulation game that has a wildlife habitat theme.

Players can design and decorate trees to make them into the perfect getaway spots for forest animals.

Using gadgets like ladders and suspension bridges, the trees can also be connected so that the animals can freely move around the game's scenic landscape.

Revenues from the game are expected to come from in-game item purchases.

JollyWood is Tecmo Koei's first Facebook platform game, developed in 2010, and the first original intellectual property developed in Singapore.

Tecmo Koei's parent company in Japan expects the Singapore operation to play a key role in its global expansion plans.

So far, Indonesia, the Philippines and India rank top three amongst Facebook users. In Singapore, nearly 3 million people have Facebook accounts.

More than 85 percent of the firm's workforce consists of Singaporeans and permanent residents.

It plans to beef up its headcount as it further develops more titles for other social gaming platforms and smart phones.

Shintaro Kobayashi, senior executive director, Tecmo Koei Games, said: "Now we have a full team in the Singapore studio. Within one year, I want to employ more - 15 or 20 members for Singapore to make future titles.

"Our core Tecmo group target is the global market. As to the Singapore studio, it has the advantage of a geographic position. It is the centre of Asian and the Western company, and the EU and India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

"So many markets are around Singapore. ... Singapore people can speak English and Chinese, so for us, it's very useful for the international titles, useful for global marketing.

"The vision is to have the Singapore studio independently developing numerous high appeal game titles for the global audience."

Yeoh Keat Chuan, assistant managing director of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), said: "Singapore's digital media talent base, unique cosmopolitan mix, sophisticated demand and cutting-edge infrastructure are some of the key ingredients that digital firms like Tecmo Koei can leverage on."

Mr Yeoh added: "This studio helped grow our industry capabilities in high-end online game development, through developing the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Romance of Three Kingdoms Online.

"Today, Tecmo Koei continues to blaze the trail as one of our first studios to focus on the up-and-coming area of social networking games."

From Channel NewsAsia, "Tecmo Koei launches new Facebook game".


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