Digital Person of the Year 2019: Gan Hak Chian
1. Tell us who you are
DC: I am DC Gan, together with my brother Welson Gan, we are the founder of Magnus Games Studio, a game development studio based in Malaysia. Basically, we are the content creator.
2. Why game development?
DC: My brother and I, we are gamers since very young and played tetris, Mario, the snake on floppy disc etc. We can’t live without games. That’s why we started our own 2-man team almost 10 years ago, trying to make our dream game.
3. Tell us about the journey you started this company
DC: We started as 2 young passionate gamers trying to create a fun experience for people who love playing games, but we failed many times. We burnt investor’s money, we got cheated, and even got looked down when we said we wanted to make games. They thought we are just a bunch of kids with bad grades with no future. We believed in what people said as a ‘trend’, which is mobile, and we failed horribly. A trend can only become a trend because of someone’s success, that is a big trap for newcomers. So with the lack of experience, we have to stop the business and take a break. My brother further his study majoring in Game Development, and I went to USA to study Music in Hollywood. In 2017 we took a leap of faith. After finishing our studies, we came back to continue our dream, which is to make games. We started conceptualizing Re:Legend, a simulation RPG, for PC and console instead of mobile. Our game concept went viral when we showcased it on Square Enix Collective, the company who made the Final Fantasy series, ended up with 99% up vote by the public, breaking all the records and until today, we are still the only game with a 99% upvote globally on that platform. We got featured on the major game media and that’s where we know we are on the right track. Not long after that, we got onto Kickstarter, a global crowdfunding platform. Within 28 days, we secured almost 2 million ringgit ended up being the most funded Kickstarter project in SEA. That is how we started Magnus Games Studio.
With the help of MDEC, we are able to showcase the game in many countries and finally landed the first global publisher which is 505 games, subsidiary of Digital Bros, a listed company in Italy. We’ve also successfully signed off a China partnership with one of the leading game company there, we can’t wait to have our partnership announcement, which is gonna be real soon.
4. What are your inspirations?
DC: We live in a world where anything can be inspiring, a cup of coffee by the street, traveling and many more, but one person I would love to share about would be Wan Hazmer, our Malaysia idol in Game industry. Wan left the country he loves to work on the Final Fantasy project in Japan, which is one of the most successful games in the industry. With his knowledge that he has, he then came back to start his own studio, contributing to the local scene, which is a mind blowing move. What he has accomplished really inspired not only us, but many more people to believe in the industry. Reading about all the local young entrepreneur’s success stories is also very inspiring, that makes me want to learn and work even harder.
5. What are the challenges you face along the way and how you overcome them?
DC: Talent is one of our biggest challenges. Game industry is very new in Malaysia. That’s why it is not mature enough to have lots of talent supplies. The only thing we can do is to slowly cultivate and motivate them, and expose them to the global market to improve the quality of work.
6. How do you see the future of game development in Malaysia?
DC: Oh my, imagine game industry is bigger than both Hollywood’s movies and music industry adding up. The potential is totally out of imagination. Also, with the help of the government especially MDEC in incubating the local developers, I can say this confidently: the game industry or digital economy will soon surpass the conventional business. It might not be soon but it will.
7. What can we learn from giants like Tencent and can we apply those learning to Malaysia?
DC: It is a very different approach in China because first, the population, secondly politics, but we can see that they have been focusing heavily in the digital economy, and they’ve doubled their revenue from 2016 to 2018, although they have other businesses, but game has always been their focus.
8. How do you think the industry can help & grow the game development scene in Malaysia?
DC: We need more young and passionate entrepreneurs to be brave enough to step out of the comfort zone. Believe in the local scene, only by doing so, we are able to grow. Many people still carry the mindset of ‘We are Malaysian, sure cannot make it’, which is sad to hear. Recent years, we’ve seen more and more great games emerging from Malaysia to the global audience, like No Straight Roads, Post Knight, and the recent hit A Dance of Fire and Ice. These are the proof that Malaysian developers can make great games.
9. Has winning this award change your life so far?
DC: First of all I would really want to say thank you to the d Awards. It’s an honor. Being the Digital Person of the Year is really one of the most important event that happened to me in recent years. It cleared all my doubts that I had in my mind. People started asking more about the game industry, or how the industry works. I am glad that this has raised the awareness and curiosity of people. Hopefully in the future, together with our team, we can contribute more to the industry.
10. What can we expect from your company in the next 6-12 months?
DC: Re:Legend will be released globally very soon, and game academy, the education is something we will look into closely. To provide a proper training to the local talents are essential to grow the industry. Meanwhile, we will be looking for partners for our expansion.