Singapore’s games industry is relatively small compared to other Asian markets – no surprise given that it is one of the only three city states in the world with a population under 5m.
However it has a relatively large community of developers (relative, that is, to that tiny populace), with local agency Singapore Media Fusion naming over 40 games companies as present in the country. The amount is evenly split between local offices for global publishers, studios in the country, and animation firms.
That said, games are a relatively new thing for Singapore. Authorities in the region have, since just the start of this decade, tried to hatch games industry there through a mix of schemes and small incentives. The thinking is that games are ripe to be made there as the workforce is technically minded. And there are links to universities and good employee laws.
But the recent UKTI Playing for Keeps report, penned by Games Investor Consulting, concluded that Singapore has already been and will continue to be marginalised by the surrounding games-savvy countries. It’s already seen as the most expensive place to develop games in Asia, thanks to high salaries and living costs, and when compared to China, India, Japan and South Korea hasn’t yet produced a games industry with pedigree. It’s also predominantly a location for mobile phone and low-end MMO or casual game development – typically the areas hotly discussed as ripe for opportunity, but not what establishes global status.
That of course could change in time – LucasArts’ activity in the region is without precedent, major players like EA and Koei have busy teams there, and Ubisoft’s opening of a Singapore studio earlier this year is effectively a major endorsement of the country. But that doesn’t change the fact it is early days for Singapore as an industrial games power, meaning the jury is still out on this emergent market.