The Inspirational Story of Napalm Studio, the Leading Game Company from Indonesia

April 19, 2021 Brian Holt Blogging

GAME studios usually put all their efforts into creating one game that will become big and change their destiny.

Indonesian game development company, Agate Studio, chose not to leave its fate in the hands of chance and chose to develop not one but six games at a time when it first debuted.

While it may sound like a crazy idea, people should be aware that Agate Studio is not your average gaming company. Founded in 2009, the company has a total of 18 founders from various backgrounds.

Arief Widhiyasa as founder and chief executive officer of Agate Studio said that at that time there was no game development course in Indonesia.

Passionate about the art of making games, Arief and some of his friends decided to start their own company after realizing that there were no opportunities in other local studios.

The group, made up of computer science, engineering and arts students, is determined to set up a game studio where all Indonesians interested in the gaming industry can work in it.

The Early Story of Agate Studio

Even though they were all inexperienced, the group quickly pooled their resources to educate themselves on the basics of running a business.

Arief explained how each member would take the time to read business books and then share their knowledge with other group members.

“We were very inspired by one book in particular that touched on the success habits of visionary companies. This means, we have to think about the business first before developing the product, “he said.

This allowed the group to rapidly expand their team in the first three months to begin developing their first six games.

Today Agate Studio has grown into a team of more than 80 people with its head office in Bandung. The company has satellite offices in other cities including Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

It’s no wonder that Agate Studio proudly claims to have made more than 200 games in the last seven years.

“We usually assign three to five people to work on a game and that way they operate like an independent game studio within the company,” said Arief.

The benefit of being a small team in a large company is that they can support each other and share knowledge.

This then allows them to learn quickly from each other and develop their game faster.

Diversified Vision and Mission of Agate Studio

Agate divides its business into two divisions: Agate Level Up serves as a digital marketing agency developing games for brands while Agate Games which focuses on developing commercial games.

“Our company focuses on making all kinds of simulation games for both our clients and our own games,” said Arief.

Agate has been involved with commercial projects that have seen it explore multiple platforms including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality, Flash, Mobile, and PC.

To date, they have worked with various clients such as Ogawa, Microsoft, Fanta, Allianz and Pocari Sweat; developing games that take advantage of augmented reality, simulation, and story-based elements to help brands reach their audience.

Agate has even worked on games for strong intellectual property like Upin & Ipin.

Surprisingly, even though the most popular game platform in Indonesia is currently on Android, Arief said that Agate’s best-selling game to date is a web-based football simulation game called Football Saga.

In the game, players are tasked with taking professional footballers through their careers and ultimately guiding them to become football legends.

Apart from making games, Agate also runs its own training program through the Agate Academy where they train and develop their own talents.

“There is a shortage of talent in the industry at the moment. We have 20 open positions, but we can’t fill them yet, ”said Arief.

Therefore, Agate took matters into his own hands by establishing an academy to teach young Indonesians the basics of game development while keeping it fun.

Students will be asked to create classic games such as Tetris and Pacman to gain a basic understanding of game programming.

“We want students to have a basic understanding or they will waste time trying to build complex games,” he said.

The Academy is a long-term project and Agate supports giving back to the local ecosystem by providing feedback to local universities on their syllabus and teaching materials.

They are also open to lending their own talents to teach classes if needed.

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Brian Holt