Xbox Global Expansion Lead for SEA ‘Super Excited’ to see Growth of Philippine Devs

“I think the Philippines is already on track, not too far behind, and I’m just super excited to see their growth.”

During my conversation with Jun Shen Chia, Xbox’s Global Expansion Lead for Southeast Asia, the statement resonated with me. The Philippines has always been a hotbed of world-class talent, however, the absence of robust support systems often led to reliance on outsourced work or relegated roles focused on support tasks.

In recent times, global publishers have intensified their efforts to penetrate the Southeast Asian market, particularly in the Philippines. What’s becoming increasingly evident is the substantial global impact that our local development scene can make.

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In his role as Xbox Global Expansion Lead, Jun Shen Chia is dedicated to empowering developers in the region, assisting them in bringing their game visions to life through the Xbox platform. Armed with an array of tools and resources and backed by unwavering corporate support, Shen faces both daunting challenges and exhilarating opportunities. His passion for the task at hand is evident, especially if you follow his active presence on Twitter, where he champions developers across Southeast Asia.

However, the road ahead is not without obstacles. Xbox, as a brand, grapples with an uphill battle in Southeast Asia. Despite significant progress in recent years, there remains a considerable distance to cover. Chia emphasizes the importance of Southeast Asia as a pivotal market for Xbox, given its substantial player base and thriving development community.

“Prior to the global expansion effort, Xbox has been in Southeast Asia and building on the work for some time, as you’re probably well aware of our work in the region. We really do see Southeast Asia as a vital market for Xbox, given the scale of the player base here and the vibrant development scene.”

“We’re holistically doing more and more over time to support the market. For the players, we’ve been adding more games and choices throughout Services and available hardware to cater to diverse tastes,” says Shen. “We’ve got localization, regional pricing, and localized customer support.”

pc game pass now available philippines

Xbox achieved a significant victory in the region with the official launch of PC Game Pass, a subscription service that grants players access to a diverse library of games at a price more affordable than your average McDonald’s meal. Notably, titles like Palworld, which attracted over 10 million players through Game Pass alone, along with favorites such as Like a Dragon and the Persona series, underscore the compelling value proposition of this service.

Chia has taken immense pride in his work over the past years. His tireless efforts have led him to various events, including local gatherings like PGDX and the recently concluded Game Dev Summit in Boracay. Despite the demanding schedule, Shen remains committed to advancing Xbox’s presence in the region.

Chia’s engagement with over 200 teams reflects the increasing scale of their endeavors. His primary mission is to foster indie games and support developers in the region.

“We’ve got more than 100 titles in development for Xbox consoles across our global expansion markets, which includes Southeast Asia, and I’ve been in engagement with over 200 teams since I began, and so I would say the scale of our efforts is increasingly growing over time. I’m just excited to see more.”

In fact, Chia says fostering Indie games and developers in the region is one of, if not the most important mission he has as Xbox Global Expansion Lead.

“At the highest level,” Shen emphasizes, “Team Xbox aims to bring the joy and sense of community inherent in gaming to everyone. To achieve this, we empower game creators worldwide to share their diverse stories and connect with our equally diverse player base.”

“And that can only really critically be done if we are going into the markets and speaking to the developers that have these diverse stories to tell. I’m just so blown away by the reception of the player base to all of the really interesting little nuanced stories and narratives that really bring out a culture from the world.”

A Space for the Unbound and Venba immediately come to mind—titles that have recently garnered acclaim. The Southeast Asian region is witnessing a concerted effort to nurture emerging game developers, and programs like ID@Xbox are opening up unprecedented opportunities.

Indonesia, currently a model region for indie game developers, serves as an inspiration for neighboring countries struggling with the complexities of game development. When asked about how aspiring studios can achieve similar success, Chia emphasizes the importance of community collaboration and knowledge sharing.

“I think already the two developer communities (Indonesia and the Philippines) are already sharing, collaborating, and figuring out success stories and best practices. We were able to invite out Sarah Johana from Toge Productions to share her learnings and best practices on community building with the the development community in attendance.”

“The Philippines has a really great pool of talent and creativity to make incredible games, and I know a lot of that can also be found in the outsourcing studios that are slowly pivoting to creating original IP.”

Shen remains deeply involved in supporting these studios every step of the way. His ongoing conversations with the Game Developers Association of the Philippines (GDAP) and community leaders demonstrate his commitment. He eagerly anticipates participating in PGDX, scheduled for July 26-28 at the SMX Convention Center.

“We’re already right there alongside the Philippines and Indonesia, and we’re all working together to figure out what’s the best way to showcase all these games to the rest of the world. What’s the best way we can put the best opportunities in front of these people?”

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Game Pass, a service offered by Xbox, has significantly supported game developers worldwide. By granting players access to a diverse library of games, Game Pass enhances game discoverability simply by allowing players to try out titles they wouldn’t normally have. However, Chia is committed to empowering developers beyond the subscription service.

“I would personally love from as many of the devs I work with to participate, but we also stress that it’s a highly curated portfolio to ensure that discoverability and engagement remain high.”

Success stories on GamePass are commendable, but Chia’s vision extends beyond this platform.

“While it’s great that the developers are finding success on GamePass, I also would love to work with developers to empower them to find success and discoverability across our entire platform, whether that’s on or off GamePass and across the ecosystem as a whole.”

“We’ve got other opportunities available to them, including marketing through our developer acceleration program, through just generally working with the developers, as well as other things that we try to do and achieve to make sure that the developers get the discoverability that we’re looking for.”

Fallen Tear: The Ascension stands out as one of the titles discovered by Chia back in 2022. Developed by Winter Crew, a Filipino studio founded by Stephen Manalastas, this visually stunning Metroidvania game captured Shen’s heart from the very first glance. After extensive discussions with the studio regarding development plans and the roadmap, the game had the privilege of participating in the developer acceleration program, and we eagerly anticipate witnessing another Philippine title make its mark on the global stage.

Engaging with Chia was enlightening, not only due to his unwavering commitment to Southeast Asian gaming but also because of his genuine love for playing games. Among his highly anticipated titles is Kriegsfront Tactics by Toge Productions. As a mecha and tactics enthusiast, Chia finds delight in the fusion of these elements.

Overhours by CtrlD Studio is another, and it is a tower-defense action game from Malaysia, along with Sedap from Kopiforge, a co-op cooking-combat adventure with a focus on Southeast Asian cuisine.

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In today’s landscape, going multiplatform is a prevailing trend. Both Xbox and Sony have been inching toward this, albeit at different paces. Yet, some developers face the dilemma of choosing one platform over another. While this decision lies beyond Chia’s control, his unwavering focus remains on empowering developers to achieve their goals.

“The first thing that I’m interested in doing is supporting the developers and understanding what their goals are and how best we can support them,” says Chia. “If they are looking at an opportunity with a multi-platform release and thinking about Xbox, there are multiple opportunities that we have available to help them with their considerations.”

“Many of them are porting for the very first time to consoles, and I’m so happy to be able to have the resources and tools and the people to connect them to so that we can ease them into this journey because it can be very intimidating, especially since many of them are speaking to a large platform like ours for the very first time.”

Beyond development, marketing also plays a pivotal role. Take, for instance, My Lovely Empress, a creation by Indonesian studio Game Changer, which was featured on the Xbox Tokyo Game Show broadcast last year, gaining global exposure. Placing these titles front and center is a thrill that Chia never tires of and is one of the most incredible things that they can do for the devs.

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The enthusiasm from Chia is encouraging. As he discusses the thriving developer scene in the region, particularly in the Philippines, his optimism is infectious and is even noticed within the Xbox team itself.

“There’s such excitement for the region from the rest of the team Xbox,” Chia reveals. “In fact, I was just on a call the other day talking about Southeast Asia and many of the games that are coming from the region, and sometimes I get pings from other team members from other parts of the org that tell me about some cool game that they saw heard about coming from the region.”

“When we launched game Camp Asia, which is our education program that’s catered to developers to get the most out of learning throughout Xbox Game Studios. We have so many Filipino studios participating in that and it’s really a byproduct of the excitement the rest of the team is seeing in the region to put the resources in specifically that aspect of our education support.”

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Special thanks to Jun Shen Chia for taking the time to talk with us despite his very busy schedule!

Check out the recently featured titles from ID@Xbox Asia featuring Fallen Tear: The Ascension, InKonbini, Brocula, and Go-Go Town.

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