Games were invented by humankind to entertain and challenge ourselves. Electronic games, powered by the latest technology, have exponentially expanded the possibilities for game designers to create imaginative games which help players release stress or even find inspiration.
Arcade game design company 3MindWave, based at the HKSTP-managed InnoCentre, is a rare breed in Hong Kong. Whilst taking on game development projects or localisation work for major brands such as SEGA, it is also designing its own car-racing game complete with a realistic design and g-force effects. With the invention, it hopes to carve a niche for itself in the resurgent arcade games market overseas.
Visible growth in the arcade games market
While 3MindWave’s founder and CEO Pang Shu concedes that mobile games are still the mainstay of the video games market, surpassing even home video games, he firmly believes that arcade games, often thought to have been marginalised, are getting a new lease of life.
He says the global arcade games market is evenly split among China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America, South America and Japan. The Japan market is almost saturated but the others have been growing in recent years, thanks to the trend towards family-oriented arcade games. In these markets, arcade games are a part of family and leisure entertainment, unlike Hong Kong which is still dominated by games arcades restricted to customers over 16.
In Japan, arcade games are placed next to family-friendly claw machines, photo-sticker booths and basketball games, omnipresent in department stores, supermarkets and even community centres for parents and children to play together. In the US, arcade games are mushrooming in family entertainment centres offering diverse family fun options. Bars catering mainly to adults also have arcade games alongside snooker tables and dart boards for entertainment. With the right hardware and software support and active marketing and promotion, the market for arcade games is thriving.
3MindWave, set up in 2017, is hoping to capture the untapped potential in the market and Pang’s experience and knowledge in the field is certain to come in handy.
Pang studied computer science at a Scottish university and majored in game development, which has since become his calling. He chose game development because it seemed fun. Having gained business and management experience throughout his career, he can say for sure that video game development is a real and no-nonsense field.
Acquiring deep market experience
After he graduated, Pang worked for a Japanese video games company in senior positions in game devleopment, project management, sales, marketing and promotion, based in Japan, China and Southeast Asia. He believes that for a game to be successful, it has to have compelling content and deliver creative and rich experiences that speak to different markets. For example, in mainland China, mobile phones and QR codes are commonly used to record lap time records, while Japan is still using specific games cards. He has helped a Japanese games developer localise a product and swap a card sensor with a QR code scanner.
Based on his years of experience, Pang thought the market was ripe and that Hong Kong was ready to have a home-grown arcade games developer. So he decided to start up 3MindWave. The company has about 20 employees in Hong Kong and mainland China, most of whom are designers and game developers. He leverages his business contacts accumulated over the years to win game development business from former clients and even employers. The work pays the bills, but his ultimate goal is to produce proprietary products.
Patented games in the offing
3MindWave is set to launch its ATV racing game this year. It is a large-scale Somatosensory game featuring all-terrain vehicles. Players can sense realistic motion and thrills. The company is planning sustained global promotion at major industry fairs to market the Hong Kong-made game to the world, and there are already interested buyers from the West.
As 3MindWave’s business looks set to take off, Pang acknowledges the support of HKSTP. The convenient location of InnoCentre has helped the company attract local talent. HKSTP also helped connect it with compatible partners through its business networks. Pang is keen to explore integration of arcade games with the Internet and different industries to provide online-to-offline gaming experiences. HKSTP will serve as a facilitator in the process.