Five things we learned from Global Top Round Singapore 2021

Five things we learned from Global Top Round Singapore 2021

Global Top Round (GTR) recently held its 2021 indie games accelerator conference in Singapore. had the pleasure of attending the event in person and seeing the Top 22 candidates, each with a chance to be chosen for the final Top 10.

This year GTR had a total of 375 applications from all over the world, including first time applications from studios in China and Russia.

In order to apply for GTR, a studio’s games need to be at least 60 per cent complete with a working demo or have already soft-launched their game.

The GTR team spends nine months selecting candidates and a further three months narrowing down the potential studios they believe are at an appropriate stage to work with.

Out of the pool of applicants, each year GTR selects its Top 10 studios and provide funding and additional support to bring the development process to its next level.

If studios reach important milestones, GTR will invest an additional $60,000, bringing the total investment to $100,000 each.

International accelerator

The Top 10 studios selected at the conference each are eligible to receive a $40,000 investment directly from GTR to give them the extra push needed to launch their titles.

Following the investment, GTR begins its six-month accelerator programme and three months of publishing support. If studios reach important milestones during the nine-month period, GTR will invest an additional $60,000, bringing the total investment to $100,000. Around 60 per cent of Top 10 studios reach these milestones and move forward with GTR.

When the time comes for additional investment, GTR will lead the seed round, opening up its investment partner networks to studios and will potentially invest up to $300,000 into the studio for its marketing or next project.

Here's what we learnt from seeing the games chosen for the programme...

Click here to view the list »
  • 1 Indie gaming is more diverse and alive than ever

    Indie gaming is more diverse and alive than ever logo

    Each Top 10 candidate presented a unique and original video game concept from a card-based city builder to a destroy-‘em-all with cute kittens, there was plenty to see.

    No two development studios were similar and each came from all corners of the world, comprising of different industry backgrounds and talents.

    Each studio brought along their game to show others their idea and how far they are in the development process. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were unable to play the games ourselves, however, studios instead played the games in our stead for us to experience their vision.

    After getting a taste of the games and learning more about the studios, GTR revealed who this year’s chosen Top 10 would be.

    The selected Top 10 studios are as follows (in no particular order):

    1. Neko Neko Rampage - BitCake Studios (Brazil)
    2. Diplomacy is Not an Option - Door 407 (Russia)
    3. This Means Warp - Outlier Games (Ireland)
    4. Swarm the City - Magic Fuel Games (USA)
    5. Fractal Space - Haze Games (Canada)
    6. I’m Not Jelly - 1 Simple Game (Mexico)
    7. Corriden - Aftnareld (Sweden)
    8. The Epic - Far-Far Games (Russia)
    9. Cityclick - Lost Native (UK)
    10. Terracotta - Appnormals (Spain)

    In addition to the Top 10 selected, the other games present which were not selected this time does not mean GTR will not continue working with them in the future.

  • 2 The GTR alumni success

    The GTR alumni success logo

    Alongside candidates for the Top 10 several GTR alumni attended the event, detailing the progress they had made since being selected for the accelerator programme.

    French studio Un Je Ne Sais Quoi exhibited its uniquely-styled Dordogne, named after the idyllic French region. Dordogne’s art style follows an untraditional approach for games, with watercolour paintings being the main artist theme, all originally hand-painted by art director Cedric Babouche.

    The studio was recently acquired by French animation studio Umanimation to help push the development process of Dordogne further.

    Milan-based Dynamight Studios gave us a rundown of its medieval MMORPG Fractured, which is one of the most true-to-life MMORPGs I have ever seen, taxes and all.

    Fractured was recently spotted by YouTuber TheLazyPeon and had an overwhelming response.

    Additionally, Point Blank Games showcased their game Stray Blade, which has been picked up by one of GTR’s partners, 505 Games, for publishing.

    Seeing the success GTR alumni have had visibly filled the room with excitement and eagerness to enter the Top 10 and benefit from the support the alumni studios had received.

  • 3 Developers do not need to focus on an international market

    Developers do not need to focus on an international market logo

    When developing a game studios want to try and make their game appeal to as many potential players as possible, but often this is not always the best strategy.

    "Developers keep saying it wrong, it’s not a global market you need to hit," said GTR business development manager Pontus Mähler (pictured).

    "You don’t need to hit all of Europe either, you can make a game in French and just hit the French markets and make millions of euros."

    Mähler went on to discuss that if a studio can bring demographic data to show that their game has good feedback in regions such as Korea or Japan, it shows that they are willing to put in the effort to get additional data; something that is highly valued by investors like GTR and their network.

    Additionally, Mähler suggests that one of the most important analyses come from unbiased consumer reactions. If a game is getting positive comments on social media channels such as Twitter, Reddit and YouTube, then it is a much more attractive opportunity for investors.

    Mähler added: "It makes it easier for us to invest when people don’t know a studio, or the people, but they see a good game".

  • 4 The influence of influencers

    The influence of influencers logo

    GTR invited several influencers, each with different audiences in several languages, to the accelerator programme.

    As a previous influencer and eSports player himself, GTR business development manager Pontus Mähler understands the important role that influencers play in user acquisition.

    "I came up with the idea two and half years ago to the [GTR] founders and said 'let’s invite four influencers, take good care of them and tell them they don't have to do anything other than telling us what you think, no strings attached," said Mähler.

    "We tell the influencers that these are demos, when they don’t like a game they ask us questions, when they have been unhappy they haven’t said anything bad."

    Mähler explained that GTR does not do any marketing for the games and that the influencers are not there to market the conference specifically. Instead, the streamers each take time to play a selection of games for their audience to watch with no requirements, to provide an unbiased and real response.

    The reasoning behind this is that they want to know what the streamers think, and most importantly, is the game "streamable"? This is very important as publishers and investors do not have the answer and only influencers can answer this.

    As mentioned earlier, the positive response to Fractured (pictured) from a YouTube video makes it easier to invest in an indie game as potential players do not know the studio or people behind, but instead see a good game.

  • 5 Success as an indie studio does not always mean making millions

    Success as an indie studio does not always mean making millions logo

    One topic that regularly appears within the industry is the success of studios. Often headlines will describe indie developer success stories such as Stardew Valley or Undertale, with regards to the number of sales the games accumulated.

    Mähler explained that the way that GTR view success is slightly different, such as seeing jobs created in the industry.

    "When Point Blank Games grew from 5 to 25 it felt really good, we helped create these jobs with the studios,” said GTR business development manager Pontus Mähler. (Pictured: Stray Blade by Point Blank Games.)

    "We aren’t the creative people or the game geniuses, we facilitate the deals. We help find them money and build them to be great founders and that is by far the biggest achievement for us as people.

    He went on to say that developers don’t have to "make millions" on their first game. "A decent Metacritic score, some nice reviews, and a good community can prove you have the capacity to make a product that people want to play, and that is success. If you can do it with one game then the next one will be better and so on.

    "We are involved between five and seven years; if the first game doesn’t succeed we are still going to work with you. Our website states our game accelerator programme is six months, but the first six months are the most intense."

    You can find out more about the Global Top Round 2021 accelerator programme at the official website. If you are an indie creator, remember that nominations for our own Big Indie Awards are now open.

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