Indonesia’s Agate Studio combines passion and business

  • Studio has made over 200 games in just seven years
  • Think of business first and not just about developing a product


Indonesia’s Agate Studio combines passion and business


GAME studios usually put all their effort into creating one game that will make it big and turn their fortunes around.

Indonesian game development company Agate Studio preferred not to leave its fate in the hands of chance and chose to develop not one but six games at once when they first started.

That may sound like a crazy idea but one must realise that Agate Studio is not your typical game company. Founded in 2009, the company had a grand total of 18 founders from a variety of different backgrounds.

Arief Widhiyasa (pic, above), founder and chief executive officer of Agate Studio said that at the time, there were no game development courses in Indonesia.

Passionate about the art of making games, Arief, together with several of his friends decided to form their own company after realising that there were no opportunities in other local studios.

The group comprising computer science, engineering and art students, were determined to set up a game studio that all passionate Indonesians who were interested in the games industry could work in.

Building from scratch

Though they were all inexperienced, the group quickly pooled their resources to educate themselves on the fundamentals of running a business. Arief explained how each member would pour their time into reading business books and later share their knowledge with the rest of the group.

“We were really inspired by one book in particular that touched on the successful habits of visionary companies. That meant that we had to think of the business first before developing the product,” he said.

This led the group to quickly expand their team within the first three months to start developing their first six games.

Today Agate Studio has scaled up to a team of over 80 people with its headquarters in Bandung. The company has satellite offices in other cities including Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

It is no wonder that Agate Studio proudly claims to have made over 200 games in the past seven years.

“We would normally assign three to five people to work on a game and in a way they operated like an independent game studio within the company,” explained Arief.

The benefit of being a small team in a big company is that they are able to support one another and share their knowledge. This then allowed them to learn swiftly from one another and develop their games faster.


Indonesia’s Agate Studio combines passion and business

Diversifying avenues

Agate splits its business between two divisions: Agate Level Up functions as a digital marketing agency that develops games for brands while Agate Games which focuses on developing commercial games.

“Our company is focused on making all kinds of simulation games both for clients as well as our own games,” said Arief.

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

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

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

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

In the game, players are tasked with taking a professional footballer through his career and ultimately guiding them to becoming a football legend.

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

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

Hence, Agate took matters into their own hands by setting up an academy to teach young aspiring Indonesians the basics of game development while keeping it fun.

Students would be required to build classic games like Tetris and Pacman to gain a basic understanding of game programming.

“We want students to have a basic understanding or else they would be wasting their time attempting to build a complex game,” he said.

The academy is a long term project and Agate is supportive of giving back to the local ecosystem by providing local universities with feedback on their syllabus and teaching materials. They are also open to lending their own talents to teach classes if need be.


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