After its release, Lokapala: Saga of the Six Realms has received great attention from the esports in Indonesia. However, despite of its abundant attention, little does people know of the number of challenges and obstacles that are being faced by the game developers, namely Anantarupa Studios who invest much of their time and efforts to join in developing the esports ecosystem in Indonesia.
Since the initial planning process until it was released, Anantarupa Studios have faced the emerging obstacles with persistence. The challenges that spark in the community includes the annoyance of being compared with existing popular game titles (re:competitors); support from the ecosystem; and last but not least, financial.
The next question would be, how do they deal with them? Will the development of Lokapala bring change to the esports ecosystem in the country? This time, Esportnesia got the privilege to interview the great woman behind Lokapala, Diana Paskarina who is also the COO of Anantarupa Studios. Diana will share her story in developing Lokapala with the team. Check out her answers below!
Getting to know Anantarupa Studios and Lokapala
Anantarupa Studios is known as a game studio that develops an esports game titled Lokapala. As a matter of fact, this game developer studio has been operating since 2011 as a developer for IP games, applications, AR, and VR.
Various well-known brands have become clients for game development such as Nabati, Choki-Choki, Mayora, Indofood, Indomilk, 2018 Asian Games, and many more. As for several game titles that were developed before that, including Boma Naraka Sura, Majapahit Online, Qaizoo AR Game, to Oriinokards.
Long before the planning to develop a MOBA game, in 2008 Anantarupa Studios had started conducting research for concept and character development. The research was mapped to create coherent results.
Later in 2016, Anantarupa Studios is aware of the esports trend that penetrates the mobile platform. The platform is now increasingly getting more popular with gamers, mainly for its practicality and low investment cost.
One of the phenomenal esports genres on mobile is MOBA. Seeing the success of the MOBA, this developer began to do market research, as well as get ready to enter the mobile esports industry.
“The MOBA genre was chosen because it is the game with the biggest demand compared to other esports games, and it has been proven to be accepted by the market. MOBA also has a fairly complex level of development, so the MOBA games on the market are quite limited. We see an opportunity to enter as an early developer of SEA for mobile esports, “said Diana.
From all the research she has done, as a result, Anantarupa Studios has succeeded in developing the first MOBA game in Indonesia. In May 2020, together with Dunia Games as the publisher, they launched Lokapala with a more stable version. Carrying the MOBA genre, Lokapala was produced because she saw the esports trend that was developing in the country.
The interesting thing about Lokapala is that it uses concepts and characters based on Indonesian mythology. Each character comes with a different story background. The term character in this game is referred to as “Ksatriya” Lokapala.
Apart from using the Indonesian concept, the Ksatriya who are here also have the theme of unsung heroes, namely heroes who are meritorious but unknown.
“In terms of acceptance, not all Ksatriya can be immediately understood, because the characters we have raised are unsung heroes, meaning meritorious but unknown heroes,” she continued.
Compared by the Players and Carrying the Stigma of Local Games
Making a game certainly has pros and cons, that includes experiencing being an object of comparison. As experienced by Anantarupa Studios, Lokapala has also been compared with other MOBAs abroad. This happens because international MOBA game already has many players from abroad.
“Because gaming knows no border, it is easily compared to foreign MOBAs title without knowing to include comparing the production budget that exceeds 10x,” said Diana in an interview with Esportsnesia.
Enduring the experience of being compared by gamers, such thing does not refrain Anantarupa Studios spirit from dying out. Diana admitted that the developer team responded to this treatment by continuing to work in producing the latest content for Lokapala.
According to her, when it is compared to countries such as Korea and China, the development of game industry ecosystem in Indonesia is not very visible.
“As actors, we see that the development of the game industry ecosystem in Indonesia is not yet visible, when compared to Korea, which started 26 years ago and China 17 years ago. In Indonesia, we do it by ourselves in 2019, ”continued Diana.
She also revealed the reason behind local games being eroded by imported games. Not because it is not accepted, but local game developers have not kept pace with international competitors.
If you look back at the various games released by Indonesian studios, most of them are of the casual genre. Even though it still has its market, it is not in accordance with the current direction of the game industry’s development.
“Niko Partners explained a research where 90% of gamers in Southeast Asia like competitive games or esports. Anantarupa strives to bring local game development to a higher standard, so that it can be aligned with imported games, “said Diana.
Anantarupa Studios has observed the development of the game industry from Japan, Korea and China. Some of these countries are considered to have been able to incorporate their local culture into more popular game genres or trends. This was implemented by Anantarupa Studios in developing Lokapala, which is based on cultural research.
Lack of Funding and Other Challenges Faced
Producing a game certainly requires a lot of effort. Diana admitted that there were various challenges during the making of Lokapala. The challenge that Anantarupa Studios experienced at the beginning was to unite the concepts of the archipelago. This concept was then translated into Lokapala.
In addition to combining concepts to match her MOBA, Diana continues another challenge, namely the difficulty of getting support and investors.
“Another challenge is the difficulty in getting support from investors to be able to believe in our vision, because in Southeast Asia there are not even leading developers who have made games at this level,” she added.
Not only that. There are other obstacles experienced by Anantarupa Studios, namely from a financial perspective. The reason is, at that time there was no access to funding for the game industry in Indonesia. However, they get facilities from the government such as incentive assistance.
“The government facilities are usually in the form of incentive assistance whose value is not sufficient to develop games other than casual or mini games. Meanwhile, the overseas game development budget can be hundreds of billions to trillions of Rupiah, “said Diana.
However, with the limitations and challenges, Anantarupa Studios does not remain silent. They still hope that Lokapala can appear in every esports match in Indonesia and on an international scale.
Moreover, they also hope for full support for the local game industry from the Indonesian government. That way, other stakeholders will also follow suit.
Getting Good Response and the Development of Lokapala Community
Even though it is oftenly compared by local community, Lokapala still gets a good response from Indonesian gamers. As the first local esports game product, Lokapala has achieved more than 1.5 million downloads within 5 months after its first release. The marketing and promotion efforts are also still limited.
“The Lokapala community continues to grow and there are many requests for outreach and tournaments in each city, as clear evidence of Lokapala’s support and acceptance in Indonesia. Not limited to the Indonesian market, we also received a positive response for publication opportunities to the global market,” she said.
Diana admitted that the developer of Anantarupa Studios did not feel traumatized and remained positive in looking at the Indonesian esports market in the future. With all the shortcomings that exist, they are compelled to improve and optimize Lokapala even better.
Besides that, Diana revealed one of the unique responses from local players. There are some enthusiastic players, to learn to know the values of characters from Indonesian mythology and history through this local MOBA game. So, many of them are not just playing, but are interested in the Lokapala concept.
“Because the development of the Indonesian game market is very diverse, Indonesian gamers also vary. Incidentally, those who are interested in playing the Lokapala game are not just playing, but are also interested in the concept of character that we introduce,” said Diana.
Esports Ecosystem in Indonesia and Lokapala’s Ambition to Reach International Stage
Talking about the esports ecosystem, Diana expressed her opinion that the esports ecosystem in Indonesia is still not structured. Professional teams and tournament events are the main focus in the realm of esports in Indonesia.
“The esports ecosystem is actually an extension of the gaming industry. But the majority only look at esports rather than developing the local gaming industry. There is support, but it still overlaps because it is still new, “said Diana.
Seeing this phenomenon made Diana and her team eager to try new things, which have never existed and been developed in this country. Lokapala is the result, which is considered capable of changing the esports ecosystem in Indonesia. Not only about tournaments and professional players, but you can develop your own MOBA esports game.
When asked about plans to bring Lokapala to an international scale match, Diana confirmed this. However, all of them require a long process.
If you look at various esports game titles, of course many have entered an international scale. Call it like League of Legends, Arena of Valor, Valorant, Overwatch, StarCraft, Dota, and many more.
“It is certain, but we have to publish to other regions before going to international scale tournaments,” she continued.
Persistent to Develop Lokapala as A Local MOBA Masterpiece
It has not been released for a year, Diana and the Anantarupa Studios team are positive that Lokapala can develop better and expand. They plan to develop strategic features for the MOBA game they make.
In order to deal with comparisons made by local players, developers are ready to present 5v5 gameplay with additional features different from MOBA games in general. So, players will be able to experience a different playing experience.
However, unfortunately Diana hasn’t revealed any features or updates planned for the future.
In addition, Diana also intends to expand Lokapala to an international scale. She said that the developer plans to prepare global publishing to various Southeast Asian countries.
Meanwhile, to get local support and attention, Anantarupa Studios will collaborate with the esports ecosystem and communities from various regions in Indonesia. Support from the Indonesian government is also needed to form an adequate esports ecosystem.
“Our hope is that the government will start supporting the local game industry with clear and tangible programs to form an adequate ecosystem,” he added.
Talking about marketing strategy, Diana revealed that there is no specific marketing strategy for Lokapala. However, in the future they hope to accommodate esports players in Indonesia. The marketing of Lokapala is entirely the responsibility of the publisher, namely PT Melon Indonesia.
Keep the spirit up, Anantarupa Studios!