Comment & Opinion

Is Vietnam the up and coming hub of new game development talent?

Sparx* GM Samuel Stevenin discusses Vietnam’s gaming industry

Is Vietnam the up and coming hub of new game development talent?

Game maker Virtuos acquired Vietnamese animation studio Sparkx* in 2011, making it the first animation studio in Virtuos’ portfolio outside of China, Since then, the company has grown to over 600 team members, and now KrASIA has spoken to the company’s general manager Samuel Stevenin regarding the company’s success - and Vietnam’s place within the games space.

Vietnam is a part of the Southeast Asia (SEA) region, one of the fastest growing gaming markets worldwide with a $5 billion market size and 270 million gamers, with mobile leading the way thanks to its affordability and market penetration.

Stevenin recalls initial struggles following the acquisition, stating that “transitioning to a game production pipeline required our team to adapt, acquire new skills, and use real-time technology alongside their expertise in computer-generated animation.”

The heart of the region?

Stevenin states that “Vietnam has emerged as a prominent hub in Southeast Asia, and is home to numerous renowned local and global game studios.” Virtuos has capitalised on this, with the aim of reaching 1500 employees in the company by 2024. He cites Vietnam’s thriving talent pool and proximity to the culturally diverse region as reasons for this growth.

Stevenin also highlights the region’s mobile-first culture, as well as the local talent pool’s expertise and passion for creating world-class content and games, with blockchain hit Axie Infinity and viral phenomenon Flappy Bird named as just two of the country’s global success stories.

Although Stevenin states that Vietnamese talent “may have less exposure to the AAA visual quality commonly seen in PC and console games due to the mobile-focused culture”, he highlights the motivation and drive for creators to enhance their skills. The talent pool’s experience in mobile games “also bring a good understanding of optimisation needs”.

Stevenin also highlights the significant investment boost throughout the region during - and after - the covid pandemic. Lockdown restrictions led to a sharp increase in playtime, which drew the confidence of investors which persisted even as the market normalised.

All of these factors have left Vietnam in a favourable position in the market, and it’s worth remembering that mobile gaming isn’t just accessible for players, but for developers. Mobile is the preferred gaming platform for players throughout the region, and this could result in further investment in its mobile game makers over other platforms.

In August, Virtuos launched a new studio in Kuala Lumpur to bolster its presence in Southeast Asia.

Staff Writer

Lewis Rees is a journalist, author, and escape room enthusiast based in South Wales. He got his degree in Film and Video from the University of Glamorgan. He's been a gamer all his life.