Publishing from China – Zodiac Interactive’s Sean Li

Zodiac interactive is a rapidly growing Beijing- Based worldwide games publisher. Today I’m talking to Sean who sean co-founded the company last year.

1. How long have you been at Zodiac?

Zodiac Interactive was founded last year in November, and I’m one of the co-founders of the company. We just had our first anniversary. I’m very much looking forward to what’s coming next year.

Put your feat up.

2. A lot of smaller developers are great at making games, but struggling to market them, What marketing tips do you have for developers on a shoe-string budget?

Great question.I would say start early and market diligently. Keep looking at what others do that made their games successful. Make sure you understand the game before pitching it to the press. Always communicate with the influencers who might be interested with either a demo or a fully developed title. And build your community little by little. We managed to have our previous games covered by the top gaming/entertainment websites like IGN, PC Gamer and Kotaku. Guys like Markiplier, Jacksepticeye and Greg Miller played our games on their channels.Small indies don’t have to spend a fortune to make these things happen if you have a good game and market it right.

Glowing Ponds!

3. What differences are therebetween running a games publisher in the west and running one in a semi-communist country like China?

Haha, let’s not talk about politics in this one.

I would say our advantage is China has a developing gaming scene and it’s booming. It brings many  business opportunities. The market is getting so enormous each year and it sometimes gets overlooked by the westerns. Zodiac is closer to this large number of players and we can approach them with our new games easily before every launch.

What I’m jealous of the publishers in the west is that we might build media relationships less efficient than they do because of the distance, culture differences and language disadvantages. The voices of the press in North America and Europe dominate the gaming industry. It cost our company more to showcase our games in front of them hoping to make a good impression.

Stories by the camp fire

4. Many developers dream of being picked up by such an esteemed publisher as Zodiac,
How do you find new games to publish and what’s your criteria for accepting new games?

Thanks for the kind words. We have scouts constantly looking for promising games in China and overseas. Chinese developers often come to our office in Beijing and talk to us. They are the best. We go to GDC, PAX, E3 and Gamescom to search for good looking indies too.

Zodiac doesn’t have a preferred genre. In terms of what I’d like to work on, I see it when I see it, haha. If you are designing something fun and would like to talk to us. Please either go to our website www.zodiacinteractive.com to submit your project or send us an email to info@zodiacinteractive.com

5. Night in or Night out?

Night in mostly since I’m getting older!

Beautiful grass in Ancient Abyss

6. What games are coming up at Zodiac for us to look forward to?

I just played the full version of Tales of the Neon Sea for the first time. It’s so damn beautiful and fun. Definitely worth a look early next year. Also the action-packed Ancient Abyss, our first pixel-art combat rogue-like coming out in late 2019. Last but not least, we are working on our biggest game that I can’t reveal at this moment. We are bringing it to PAX East next March in Boston. Please stay tuned.

Tales of the neon sea funded on kickstarter in august.

7. How did you get into the industry?

I studied Computer Art at the School of Visual Arts in New York City as a graduate student. A friend of mine started a company making games in 2013 after I graduated so I became a 3D artist of game design and I helped with the publishing side. I went back to China in 2016. My understanding of the western gaming industry got me a few jobs in different companies. Our team published Tiger Knight on Steam. It got over 1.5 million downloads in the first year. So we decided to found our own company based on our experience and knowledge. That’s the origin of me in the video game business.

Bars of the Neon Sea

8. Favourite game of all time?(It’s a hard question, I know)

Last time I choked when I received this question during a live interview choosing between a few titles in my mind. It’s Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. I have finally convinced myself.

Zodiac’s Links:
Our Twitter account: https://twitter.com/ZdcInteractive
Website: www.zodiacinteractive.com
Maybe our Discord invite too? https://discord.gg/dRBr2ZF

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