Martin Ha is Business Director of SohaGame, the top mobile game publisher in Vietnam, with 28% of the market in 2014 and 2015. Martin became Business Director after five years of working with SohaGame’s parent company, VC Corp, beginning as a creative internet product executive while still at university. Now, after three years working in this creative field and branding with SohaGame, Martin is completely satisfied to be working with the internet business, describing it as “a young and dynamic environment that is always full of innovative ideas.” Join Martin Ha and other industry professionals in this panel from Casual Connect Asia.
A Huge RolePlaying Game
Martin compares this work to a roleplaying game. “You are a lost boy trying to survive in a big city. It’s a huge quiz-solving game dealing with multiple tasks every day where every task needs its own answer completed by midnight, before the time’s up. I play that game every day and never get bored.” The fun of playing this game was their inspiration for pursuing this career.
It all started one day when the president of VC Corp told Martin of an idea to create a game business. With an enthusiastic “Yes,” Martin became involved in the creative game industry.
Prior to working for VC Corp, Martin worked as a copywriter for some ad agencies. This work developed critical skills for working at SohaGame, creativity and the ability to think in different ways, skills Martin considers key to their survival in the business so far.
Winning People’s Hearts
The challenge of working as a business director in the game industry, according to Martin, is not about winning over competitors; it is about winning people’s hearts to make the staff love the company, stay with you and fight with you. Rather than building a working environment that functions like a family, with the inevitable structure of superior positions that family brings, Martin prefers to create something like a university community, with trusted friends and new lessons to give and take every day.
When considering a game, they look for one that brings fun and joy to gamers as well as the connection between people inside the game, as Martin says, “a virtual-happy-connection.” As an avid gamer, especially of roleplaying and puzzle games, they have a feel for the games that will resonate with players.
Publishers and Developers
As SohaGame works with developers, they actively strive to understand every situation from both sides. Martin emphasizes, “All the suggestions, the rejections, the corruptions have their own meaning.” The publisher should be a friend the developer can trust and count on to stay for the long run, even if they may not have seemed the most advantageous initially.
Martin points out that working with a publisher allows developers to focus on what they do best. The publisher knows the market better, after publishing hundreds of games, so they can offer helpful suggestions on completing the game and attracting gamers, and, as Martin says, “make a candle become a star.”
The most effective form of marketing for SohaGame has been digital marketing with branding to build the trust of gamers. As Martin insists, “Never run anything alone.”
PC and Web To Go Mobile
As mobile gaming continues to expand, Martin is seeing PC and web games switching to mobile. So, during the next few years, the biggest trends will be MOBA and esports in the game industry. SohaGame is already planning to publish some MOBA and esports games in Vietnam, but Martin expects it will take a year to educate the market. And, although most people are talking about VR, it will probably be five years before the necessary platform, technology and hardware can be in place for it to become a global trend.
When not working, Martin balances his life with traveling, reading books and writing. They have been interested in gardening from childhood, so it is not surprising to discover that, if not in the game industry, they would have a garden, raise some chickens and open an organic food store.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.