For Anton Soeharyo, it all started with a Chinese New Year gift: a traditional red packet, containing money and symbolizing good luck.
At the time, he was going to college in Japan for international relations, and he wanted to do something useful with the money. So he decided to start building games and teamed up with his cousin and brother.
“Having people that I can trust, especially in business, makes me feel like Superman, invincible,” he says.
And they seemed invincible for a while: after Touchten Games was founded, they created several high-ranking games, like Sushi Chain and Hachiko. Hachiko became a top 10 app in the U, and was mentioned by Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt in a speech. Touchten’s games were downloaded 2.1 million times, and they received nearly $1 million in funding from local venture capital firm Ideosource.
But the good luck didn’t last: in early 2011, an American company claimed that Touchten’s most popular game was copied from theirs, and Apple removed it from the app store. Soeharyo tried to fight back – he says he didn’t know about this other game, which was actually released after Touchten’s – but to no avail.
“I learned that I should not put my eggs in one basket,” he says.
The incident lit a fire under Soeharyo: he realized that Touchten had been coasting on the success – and profits – from that game, and they were being “kind of lazy.” So they buckled down to work on other titles to prove that Indonesians can produce games, not just play them or copy them. Now, their game Infinite Sky is ranked among the top 10 games in several countries.
“It was like losing your child,” Soeharyo says, but “that was kind of a wake up call.”