‘Why not give Filipino games a chance?’: Putting the spotlight on Pinoy game developers

Ranida Games’ Walter Manalo and Ben Banta at the culmination of Google Play’s Indie Game Accelerator Program. (Ranida Games/Released)

Mobile gaming is among the popular activities that people do on their smartphones nowadays.

Globally, most people download and spend on mobile games, according to Meltwater’s Digital 2023 Global Overview Report, with the Philippines topping the countries that spend the most time using the internet per day.

The popularity of mobile games opened more opportunities for mobile game developers worldwide, among them is the independent Filipino game developer Ranida Games established by brothers-in-law Ben Banta and Walter Manalo in 2015.

They are among the Filipino game developers who aim to increase the country’s popularity in this industry.

Being in the gaming industry for a while, Banta and Manalo shared that the popularity of mobile games does not equate to lesser challenges in the game developer community.

“Sanay lang talaga ang Pilipino sa Western games. So kapag tayo ang gumawa [ng games], they thought na copycat or mababang quality,” said Manalo.

Apart from issues on originality and quality, the Ranida Games founders said that gamers expect that their games would be made available for free. As much as they want to allow players to access their games with no fee, they are hopeful that these gamers should understand that independent games developers also need to earn, just like bigger games developers such as Zynga and Gameloft.

“Game development is a business,” explained Manalo.

“Kailangan din naman din mag-earn ng ating game developers for us to create more [games]. Most developers naman here in the Philippines fund their own [game development],” he added.

Gaining Support

Ranida Games’ CEO Ben Banta with his fellow Google Play’s Indie Game Accelerator Program participants. (Ranida Games)

Despite these challenges, there has been a growing support for game developers like Ranida Games. One of them is Google Play’s Indie Games Accelerator (IGA), a three-month digital accelerator program for high-potential indie game studios from selected countries.

Selected participants get masterclasses, workshops and mentoring from top industry experts to learn how to build and grow a successful games company.

“What IGA really brought is focus,” said Banta, recalling their training in Singapore last year.

“One of the very good things that we have in IGA is aside from the master classes and talks, there is mentorship. The mentors are from seasoned studios kaya it was a very satisfying experience for us para maiangat yung studio namin,” he also said.

Manalo added that they are thankful that the Philippine government is now taking notice of the game development industry.

Recently, they were among the game developers who received a grant from the Cultural Center of the Philippines to create a game that features the Filipino culture which they named SINAG.

SINAG is a fighting game that took inspiration from Philippine folklore. Once the game gets launched, you’ll get to go against the white lady, aswang, and kapre to name a few, in the Philippines’ iconic spots like the Chocolate Hills, Maria Cristina Falls, and Banaue Rice Terraces.

The game will be on soft launch to select countries worldwide, including the Philippines, giving them the chance to “bring our culture through the game on the global stage,” in Banta’s words.

Ranida Games’ upcoming game, SINAG. (Ranida Games)

SINAG is now available for pre-register on Google Play. Those who complete the pre-registration process will be eligible for the “Boracay Stage” of the game once it is released

The Ranida Games founders said that they are also looking forward to the first-ever Philippine GameDev Expo which would put the spotlight on Filipino game developers.

Aside from the game showcase, the three-day event happening on August 18 to 20 at the SMX Convention Center will also host workshops and conferences for participants.

With the combination of the growing community of mobile gamers and the support from different avenues, Banta and Manalo believe that there is a growing opportunity for the Filipino game developer community.

“Why not give Filipino games a chance?” they concluded.

RELATED: Filipino game developer Ranida Games to tap global market for Vita Fighters

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