Indonesia’s Board Game Industry Insight: Restore the Market Saturation Through Fresh Themes and Unique Mechanics

By Febrianto Nur Anwari

We talked with Manikmaya Games to know more about Indonesia’s board game industry and what makes it attractive to the international market.

The development of board game industry is increasing rapidly now. How about in Indonesia itself? We talked with Manikmaya Games to know more about Indonesia’s board game industry and its ecosystem.

Besides video games, board games are one of the creative industry that gains its popularity nowadays. Many titles emerge, and some of them came from successful Kickstarter projects. Then, some game events like BEKRAF Game Prime and GameStart already provide special areas to accommodate the board game and its community.

How about the board game industry in Indonesia? Game Prime Asia had a chance to do an interview with Andre Dubari, Business Manager of Manikmaya Games, one of the biggest board game developers and publishers in Indonesia. Andre shared his insight about the history of Indonesia’s board game industry, the future potential and also the challenge that they must tackle to develop it further. I cannot find fault with Xanax for control of panic attacks xanax bars online

Can You Explain About the History of Indonesia’s Board Game Industry?
board game industry

Vandaria Wars. Source: Duniaku.net

In Indonesia, some titles like Vandaria Wars, Pet Wars, and Mat Goceng maybe the pioneers of the board game industry. However, both from public interest aspect, number of stakeholder (game designers and publishers) and board game’s activity skyrocketed in 2015 after Board Game Challenge held by Kummara and supported by Kompas, one of the biggest media groups in Indonesia.

The 5 cities workshop (Bandung, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, and Jakarta) has accelerated the growth of local board game communities. These communities regularly hold a board game play session called PlayDay every month, or even every week.

indonesia's board game industry

The most interesting part is that their contribution does not stop there. These communities also regularly hold a prototyping and play-testing session to test their board game design. This prototype sometimes grabs an award in board game design competitions (such as Surabaya Board Game Market 2016 and Board Game Challenge 2016). Even some of the prototypes get attention from local publishers to publish it. And the other, get self-published by the creator.

If we talk about industry scale, maybe we can say that 2014 is the trigger because that was our first participation in Essen Spiel. That participation led to some innovations in Indonesia’s board game industry, including some board game events in 2015.

What is the Strength of Board Game Industry that it Can Compete with Other Creative Industry in Indonesia?
board game industry

Essen Spiel

The strength and the main appeal of board games is its ability to bring together its players and motivate the interaction and communication between them. If it can be communicated well to all Indonesia’s family segment, especially for those who agree that family time is very precious, Indonesia’s board game industry can take off and accelerate faster.

I think this kind of approach also happens in international board game industry, especially in eurogame or german-styled board game that feels so strong in Essen Spiel every year. This family-friendly event gives the impression that board game is one of the best choices for the family to build their quality time.

What do You Think About the Condition of Indonesia’s Board Game Industry Now?
indonesia's board game industry

Mahardika Board Game. Source: Manikmaya Games

Nowadays, the growth is very promising. Until now, there are around 12 active publishers with their product spread throughout the local market very well. Some of the new publishers also try to look at the licensing potential for the international title to be localized in Bahasa.

Some regional and national board game events also keep popping up. Local board game cafe and library’s number increases constantly and starts to be one of the weekend holiday’s destination choices. Positive feedback from teacher’s community, progressive school, and home-schooling circle also become a good validation that Indonesia’s board game industry is already in the right direction.

One thing that makes me very happy is, since the birth of Indonesia’s game industry, there are many game designers and publishers that are very active to explore local content. This thing surely gives some appeal for Indonesia’s board game industry.

Can You Explain About How Many Board Game Titles and Developers in Indonesia Right Now?
board game industry

Timun Mas and Green Giants

Nowadays from my point of view, the number of active board game developers and publishers is around 12. This number will increase in next 6 months. Now, the number of board game titles that have been released and distributed in the local market is around 25 titles. I can predict that this number will increase by 50%-100% in the next one year.

What is the Most Favorite Board Game’s Theme for Indonesian Gamer?

Until now, there aren’t any official surveys to make sure about this yet. But according to our observation in some of the board game libraries, board game cafes and local PlayDay events, the eurogame-styled board game is the main choice of gamers.

The theme explored by Europe’s board game, especially Germany, is definitely varied. Although most of them carry a Europe-medieval/feudalism theme, it is not a guarantee that a board game is chosen by a player because of its theme. Most of the board game gamers choose a game based on its gameplay and unique mechanics designed by its game designer.

Based on the mechanics, if we talk about casual board gamers or entry level maybe they’re more interested in bluffing and having a secret identity; trick taking or dexterity. But in board game community there are no special mechanics that become the main preference, either it is worker placement, deck/pool/tableau building, trading/negotiation, etc.

Are there any International Achievements or Recognitions That Indonesia’s Game Industry Already Got?
indonesia's board game industry

Mat Goceng. Source: Manikmaya.com

One thing that makes Indonesia’s board game industry proud is in form of market acceptance to Indonesia’s traditional theme in Essen Spiel 2014. Hundreds of local board game copies sold at that time because of the word-of-mouth power. Some reviewers already played the local board game (like Mat Goceng) on the first public day of Essen Spiel 2014, and gave impact to the significant increase of the sales on the second day (and then sold out).

One reviewer in his blog also stated about the fresh theme that was brought by Indonesia’s board game. It restores the market saturation of the medieval Europe, zombie and pirates themes that appear too often in board games.

board game industry

Waroong Wars

Another achievement came from the winner of Board Game Challenge 2015, Waroong Wars. This board game has ever been used for official merchandise of Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism in some of the international events.

Essen Spiel 2017

The Festivals. Source: Manikmaya.com

The Festivals has also been used for official merchandise from Indonesia for opening in “Urban Logistics & Land Transportation Management Workshop for Leaders & Specialist in Indonesia” program. This event was held by Ministry of Economy, The Logistics Institute Asia Pacific National University Singapore and Indonesia’s Logistic Association.

In the future, we hope that we will get a good news from our participation in Essen Spiel 2017.

What is the Main Challenge to Develop Indonesia’s Board Game Industry Further?

indonesia's board game industry

The biggest challenge of board game industry is not much different with the digital video game. One of them is a stigma that says a game is not a benefit or serious element. The next challenge that as complex as the first challenge is distribution aspect. We should think about how Indonesia’s board game product can be distributed well in the market, so the gamers can find it easily.

And the last, of course, is from the production aspect. It is also very challenging and can determine the product quality and price.

What is Your Hope for Indonesia’s Board Game in the Future?

indonesia's board game industry

My personal hope is, board game culture can stick in the Indonesia’s family. Like “spiel-abend” or “night play” culture, our family should allocate specific time to play with their member. We should do:

  • Play it seriously. Make it a habit by sparing a specific time and preparing a lot of things (game curation, snack, drinks) to support a conducive play session.
  • Maximize the benefits of playing the game by briefing the players first and sticking to the game’s official rules. Do our best to avoid creating the house rules.
  • Play by our hearts and do the post-game discussion to analyze the strategy, theme or even brag for the winner.

That kind of culture is my dream for Indonesia’s board game industry.

Road to Essen Spiel 2017: Accelerate Indonesia’s Board Game Industry Through the World’s Biggest Game Fair

Two Indonesia's board game publishers will exhibit in the world's biggest board game fair that will be held in Germany, Essen Spiel 2017.

And Finally, What Do You Think About the Development of International’s Board Game Industry Nowadays?

indonesia's board game industry

Until today, the board game sales data (like from ICv2 for North America) and funding’s track record in Kickstarter shows that international gamers have a big interest in board games. And also, the number increases rapidly every year.

But similar to other industries, if the stakeholder’s number is increasing, the board game’s product will increase double. So there is no doubt that innovation will be a differentiator for each other. When it happens, it is very important for the stakeholders to see the industry from a different point of view to keep them sustainable in this industry.

However, now board game industry is still in a development stage.

Edited by Devi




About Writer

Febrianto is the Senior Editor of Duniaku.net and the Lead Editor of Gameprime.org. He started his career in game industry as a game journalist since 2008, and was one of the initial members of Duniaku.net since 2011. His biggest interest is local game developer scene. Currently, his mission is to spread the news about Indonesia’s game industry to both local and international game and creative industry’s enthusiast.