Grad’13 alums form gaming media company and partner with Apple.
Grad’13 alumni Thanisorn (Phet) Boonsoong and Cabin Yim, also known for their restaurant Sul in Bangkok, expanded into the gaming world with their venture FairPlay Studios. The most recent game, Himmapan Marshmello has gone viral in Thailand, available for Android and Apple devices.
Phet talks about his interest in gaming, how that led to the creation of FairPlay Studios, winning the Rising Star award, the studio’s partnership with Apple and its latest achievements.
“Creating a game has always been a childhood dream – to build my own MMORPG (massively multiplier online role-playing game) in order to craft a fantasy world of my own imagination without limitations. I loved games as a kid (and I still do) and wanted to play games for a living; however, at that time, the stigma surrounding gaming wasn’t as positive as it is today and the industry hadn’t been formalised. As you can imagine, my parents were absolutely against it. Nonetheless, at the back of my mind, I held onto the hope that one day the gaming industry wouldn’t elude me and I would find my way in somehow.”
“Fast forward a few years and the gaming industry is now a formal industry and it is booming! There are cases of massive success from games such as PUBG to Arena of Valor. As a serial entrepreneur and investor, I was able to accumulate experience and expose myself to the industry through multiple international investments spread across actual development studios, to peripherals such as big data and funds specialised to the industry. That led the way to allow me the opportunity to open my own studio. The business opportunity in the industry was evident and I managed to source an incredible technical team by luring them with some sweat equity – something that Business Studies at Bangkok Patana taught me to do!”
“FairPlay Studios started a little over two years ago in September 2018, initially aiming to tackle the mobile market and expand into the quality-driven console market to bring Thailand onto the gaming global stage. Thailand has an abundant labour pool that is extremely skilled in art and animation. However, our gaming industry has never grown past our local borders, I wanted to change that. When other countries in the world are launching sensational titles and global hit IPs, Thailand’s gaming studios are still stuck in development and a belief of self-publishing. In business, alliances are key and we recognised the importance of working with publishers and stores; this allowed our studio to enter the global stage from year one.”
“Our first game, Fallen Knight, was conceptualised to be a disruptive project – to do something that’s hard to achieve and stands out. That was why we designed an action-packed mobile platformer with controller compatibility (a rare mobile genre due to control lag and FPS requirements). The risk we took propelled our studio to an unthinkable level. Apple was launching their new arcade platform and redesigning their gaming service to have controller compatible capabilities across all devices at the same time we planned to launch Fallen Knight onto mobile platforms. As they saw our game, they appreciated the innovation behind our product, this led to them invite us to be the first, and only, Thai company to be a part of their initiative. Being able to partner with one of the world’s largest companies was a massive opportunity and we took it immediately, allowing us to be the first Thai game studio in history to be a part of Apple’s global product launch event!” (See min. 3:34)
“Partnering with Apple was a major milestone for us and we capitalised on this achievement to push the studio to greater heights. With international press coverage and having been voted one of the top 30 games on Apple Arcade, we leveraged this success and managed to sign with PQube, one of the UK’s largest publishers, to obtain rights to console development kits that make us one of the few studios in Thailand to possess development kits to Sony’s Playstation and Microsoft’s XBox.”
“After a year of polishing our game, we submitted Fallen Knight to a competition at one of the major game conferences of the world, LevelUp KL, where we won the Rising Star award, beating all the other Southeast Asian game studios in that category.”
“In 2020 we felt that it was time to move on and diversify our revenue streams, so we launched our production house services and in-house development sub-unit, Holy Basil Studios. Holy Basil Studios capitalised on the recent social media viral trend, Himmapan Marshmello. We developed this trend into a CSR game to generate social value by driving awareness to traditional Thai literature and culture, including the temples which house the Himmapan sculptures. This went viral, earning recognition by Bangkok Post and was featured in Guru Magazine which focuses on only one key individual per week.”
“Looking forward, our team has great experience working with next-gen technologies. Prior to our formation, we had already been working with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. We are discussing picking those technologies up again for our own titles if they become more technologically accessible. Apart from that, we’ve been conceptualising games for functional Android systems such as the Tesla monitors in the car as well as novelties for wearable tech.”