The Malaysia game development (game dev) scene has been flourishing and on the rise over the past decade.
Local devs have been showcasing their talents whether individually or through a company, and we even saw 15 local entries make it to the finals of LEVEL UP KL: SEA Game Awards 2022.
It’s an attribute that’s attracted many overseas companies to set up and expand their studios in Malaysia, providing even more opportunities to local talents.
Additionally, with more Malaysian studios and homegrown intellectual properties (IPs) starting up, local talents are retained within the country. It’s giving the local industry the momentum it needs to push forward towards an even brighter future.
What started as a seven-person team in 2009 has now become a company with 178 employees working on titles including Spider-Man Remastered, Injustice 2, The Last of Us Part 2, Batman Arkham Knights, Stray, and more.
Redefining a focus
Before Passion Republic was a game dev studio, the company was named Passion Fruit Animation House and focused a lot on creating animations for the film and advertising industry.
The company was founded to build an environment where people could pursue their passion for art in a meaningful and healthy way. However, its team told Vulcan Post that they did not have a solid business plan when they first started.
“We were just seven passionate artists with a lot of love for art and animation,” said Rohana Razak, Cheong Teik Mun, and Tiong Boon Chee, who are Passion Republic’s Senior Project Manager, Head of Animation, and Lead Modeling Artist, respectively.
“As the team gradually grew bigger and wiser, we eventually changed our name to Passion Republic in 2009.”
In the beginning, the company mainly worked on small, short-term projects for local TV commercials and animation for pachinko (arcade) machines.
Passion Republic’s first big break came two years in. At the annual Game Developers Conference, a director approached the company’s Founder and President, Sern to collaborate on a project called Azureus Rising.
“The collaboration took about nine months, and Azureus Rising ended up winning several awards at film festivals,” the team shared, adding that this increased Passion Republic’s exposure on the international stage.
From then on, Passion Republic’s clients grew, even drawing attention from those overseas.
The work behind a game
With over 13 years in the game dev industry, Passion Republic has built its reputation and nurtured long-term relationships. Clients are now the ones approaching the company with opportunities and projects for its team to work on.
To ensure smooth workflow, employees are split into six different teams: animation, art, modeling, technical, VFX, and support.
The workflow for projects is usually iterative, according to the team, whereby nothing is set in stone.
Usually, there are four to five projects running simultaneously in the studio, with each having about five to 30 artists working on it together, depending on the scope of the work.
Sometimes, team members need to jump from one project to another too, therefore requiring them to be flexible.
With their adaptability, they’ve been able to work not only on outsourced projects (which is their main scope), but they’ve also released their own IP, GigaBash.
It’s a multiplayer arena brawler featuring titans such as kaiju, larger-than-life heroes, and fully destructible environments for maximum chaos and fun.
Today, the game has found fans not just locally, but in countries such as America, Japan, Europe, and more.
Malaysians’ growing love for gaming
When Passion Republic’s team was asked about their perspective on the video games industry in Malaysia, they shared that they don’t believe it’s mainstream yet.
“There is more to be done in order to grow towards that direction. We need to provide more opportunities to young talents, greater exposure locally and internationally, more schools to nurture talents, funding for projects and startups,” said Rohana, Teik Mun, and Boon Chee.
That being said, the local gaming industry is still continuing to mature, albeit at a slower pace.
Nowadays, there are more studios opening up in Malaysia, which the team believes is a good thing despite that also pointing to having more competition.
“There are more options and platforms for local talents to pursue their passion or work on their dream title. This also inspires local schools to provide more intensive courses for young talents to learn more specialised skill sets,” they elaborated.
Following that, Passion Republic hopes to become a trustworthy co-development partner in Malaysia and build an environment where talents can continue to be inspired by each other.
All this bodes well for the future of Malaysia’s game development scene, and it’ll be interesting to see what other local IPs will emerge in the next few years.
Featured Image Credit: Passion Republic’s team