A constant topic of conversation in the Hawaii tech community is - what tech niches would work in Hawaii or, even better, be really well suited to the islands. One that seems to be a natural is social gaming. Why? A couple of reasons. First, our affinity with Japan (and close ties with the culture) give us a huge leg up on the gaming future. Anyone who knows the history of RPGs in Japan knows that Farmville (and most other Zynga titles) came from Japanese RPGs (or flavors of them) that rolled out years (if not more than a decade) ago. Zynga leveraged Facebook beautifully to make these games work. But there are tons of social gaming companies that are succeeding through sales of virtual goods and its a booming business. This is also a totally location agnostic business - marketing is almost all online and via viral / social means.
Best of all, start up costs and barriers to entry are fairly minimal (at present). It's more about story telling. Using Cloud economics, too, makes it cheaper than ever to reduce all startup costs effectively to manhours with no hardware or licensing costs necessarily incurred. Startup costs for a solid social gaming release run from $500k to $2 million. That is a lot for a local startup but in the grand scheme of startups, its peanuts - and its about on par with launching a restaurant in Hawaii. Except the margins are closer to 60% as opposed to the 4-5% margins of most food establishments. And the hours are WAY better. So has anyone got game in Hawaii? I don't mean the Square model - that is super cool but massive, expensive, and involves insane amounts of CGI and rendering engines. Rather, I mean good storytellers, good UI guys, and a decent architect (probably 3 people would be enough, in truth) to launch a game here in Hawaii. If so, let me know!
Please all feel free to come to tomorrow evenings Obscure Game Night http://www.techhui.com/events/retro-obscure-games-night, setup by the Retrogamers group and International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Honolulu chapter. There will be plenty of opportunity to network and talk about plans for the future as well :-)
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