Far East gamers playing key role in Bristol developer’s multi-million pound sales boost

July 30, 2020

A Bristol videogame developer has achieved sales of more than £1.5m in Japan just two years after the official release of its flagship game there.

Lo-Fi Games is also now targeting China, where the complex, post-apocalyptic landscape of its game Kenshi has also built up a loyal following and recorded sales of more than £1m. 

Lo-Fi Games founder Chris Hunt spent more than a decade singlehandedly crafting Kenshi while working night shifts as a security guard.

Having achieved an ‘early access’ release on videogame marketplace Steam in 2012, Chris was able to expand Lo-Fi Games’ team, bringing sister Natalie onboard as director.

While gaining international success from a loyal following, the game has taken off particularly in Japan, the third largest gaming market in the world worth £14.4bn.

With Japan identified as a key market ahead of Kenshi’s official release in late 2018, the Department for International Trade (DIT) assisted Lo-Fi Games, which is based in the Bristol Games Hub at Stokes Croft, with a bursary to exhibit at the Tokyo Game Show.

This led to more than 89,000 downloads and sales passing £1.5m in the gaming-mad country.

The global coronavirus lockdown has also boosted sales as gamers are forced to stay home with more time on their hands.

With support from its DIT international trade adviser, Lo-Fi has also recorded strong sales in the US, Australia, Germany, and Russia. As a result of its exporting success, the team recently expanded from five to 13, and is now working on the globally anticipated Kenshi 2

Natalie Hunt said: “Kenshi is a unique offering in Japan where linear and console games tend to be more popular. 

Pictured: Lo-Fi Games directors Natalie and Chris Hunt at the Tokyo Game Show

“It has been enthusiastically received by players there who are increasingly interested in ‘open world’ games like ours.

“Success in Japan had a ripple effect across Asia-Pacific, namely South Korea and China. We had previously underestimated how huge the Chinese market would be but since we released a localised version of Kenshi a year ago, it has become our second top selling country.

“We have always strived to create a game that we are passionate about, free from the pressures of investors. Our success overseas has enabled us to maintain our independence and it’s been brilliant to have had support on hand from the Department for International Trade along the way.”

Last month, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced the start of free trade negotiations with Japan, highlighting the technology and digital trade sectors as particularly relevant to ongoing discussions.

Exports minister Graham Stuart said: Lo-Fi Games’ incredible success demonstrates the continued importance of our trading relationship with Japan.

“The UK’s gaming sector is thriving, with 95% of development studios exporting their games.

“Our ongoing negotiations with Japan aim to strike a comprehensive free trade deal which supports UK businesses like Lo-Fi Games and strengthens our position as a global technology superpower.”

UK trade with Japan was worth more than £29.5bn in 2018 with 9,500 UK-based businesses exporting to the country, helping to employ 2.4m people across the UK.

To watch a video trailer of Kenshi, visit: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1HCdzOgVgOAEEFSYuKsAN0u6Sv19Ng-cQ?usp=sharing

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