Play-Asia.com: 15 Years of Fan Service
The year is 2002 and the console wars are in full effect, memes are just budding image macros, and games like Super Smash Bros. Melee, Grand Theft Auto 3, and Kingdom Hearts are on their way to winning over the hearts of the world. In an office located in Hong Kong a group of video game enthusiasts are about to launch Play-Asia.com, their vision for global video game distribution…
Play-Asia.com started only selling video game software and hardware online, but quickly added more and more products as our customers told us what they wanted to see.
Following the legal confrontation surrounding Lik Sang, a well-remembered retailer by many gamers, the Play-Asia.com management recognised the necessity of working with industry giants to accomplish our goal of providing video game consumers the exact products they want to buy. The company that was envisioned that day would begin working with these leaders over the next decade to find ways to benefit both the international consumer and publisher.
Play-Asia.com originally was all about selling video games, initially launching a rapidly expanding selection of video game software and hardware. As both the store and the community grew it became clear that there were numerous products outside of strictly video games that gamers didn’t have access to, and frequently requested. A music section for classic video game soundtracks was a necessity, amazing Japanese sculptors were constantly manufacturing fan favourite characters, and massive art and design compendiums were a collector’s dream. As Play-Asia.com quickly secured the supply chains required for each new category our community grew larger as new people found a home for their collecting and gaming needs. Play-Asia.com now carries thousands of in stock products ranging from hobby items, electronics, digital codes, lifestyle goods, and of course physical video games.
Our most frequent request for many years during the infancy of Play-Asia.com was implementation of 24/7 customer support coverage. As our community became truly international we committed ourselves to giving every customer the same quality experience regardless of country or timezone. After gradual rollouts increasing the number of customer service shifts, in January 2015 we completed the transition to an in-house customer service team that is always available! It was and remains incredibly important to the integrity of our customer interactions to avoid outsourcing such a core service.
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 remains the best selling title in Play-Asia.com’s history, having sold over 25,000 physical copies for PS4 and Vita! The majority of these copies shipped to the United States.
With time came the digital gaming age as both consumers and publishers began adopting marketplaces like Steam, PSN, and Xbox Live as a major source of video game software. But just like the resurgence of vinyl in the music industry, there remained a growing wave of gamers who preferred physical boxsets for a variety of reasons. Whether it be the security of truly owning a product, or the completeness of a full package (manual and all!), or maybe just the nostalgia of the experience – this incredibly vocal community continues to thrive.
Despite our love for all things physical in the face of a digital age, our original goal of global availability remained. Digital goods, while making purchases easier for some, ran into regional issues in a similar way the physical games that preceded them did. Thousands of inspired games sat on digital marketplaces unavailable to the international community and we knew we were in position to solve the problem. Thus our Digital section was born, quickly being filled by PSN, Xbox Live, iTunes cards and more. Gamers all over the globe could now instantly download and play almost any title in the world.
In early 2016 Play-Asia.com hit our largest sales record to date for a single title with Koei Tecmo’s Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, having sold over 25,000 physical units. Due to an outpour of support from the gaming community in the wake of criticism, we were able to show that an incredible demand for the right titles with Asia English exclusivity exists within the market. This event has been referenced as a strong case for Western interest in Japanese titles ever since.
Throughout our history our biggest leaps forward have always been instances where we’ve succeeded at expanding the available support we can provide our customers. Whether that means setting up multiple international offices to better source products from all over the world, innovating safer packaging methods for specific products, or expanding our dedicated customer service team, our proudest accomplishments always come back to improving the experience for our fans.
Global video games
Big opportunities to further our cause came to Play-Asia.com when a select few Japanese publishers began testing the Asia region with English exclusive releases. With the gaming climate changing and many Japanese publishers looking for ways to expand their audience we became champions for the Asia region. As the community showed greater support for each new game announced for the region it became an easier task to convince publishers to continue releasing their games to the outstretched hands of their international fan base.
As we noticed video game success coming out of our own backyard, the opportunity of expanding the availability of physical games started to become a reality with our very first collaboration with the publishing of Soldner X Himmelssturmer for the PS3. Through collaborations with eastasiasoft, the year of 2008 marked the very first game Play-Asia.com had helped produce. People were now able to play a series near and dear to our hearts, and from there we were addicted to furthering that achievement.
In just the past year Play-Asia.com has begun working with great international publishers like eastasiasoft to release limited quantity physical releases, a direct continuation of our desire to share our love of physical games with the global community. With the launch of the Play-Asia.com Exclusive release program we came full circle to our very first Play-Asia.com Exclusive of Soldner X 2: Final Prototype for the PlayStation Vita. The success of our releases this past year has inspired us to continue streamlining the process for our community and continuing to offer bigger and better titles in the future. We’ve got some great releases lined up for 2018 that we know you’ll love!
The past 15 years of growth have been filled with tough work, dedicated individuals and a lot of video games! We have big plans for physical exclusives throughout 2018 and beyond, and a primary focus will be perfecting this service and ensuring we are serving the avid community of collectors well. This includes improving packing quality and shipment options, expanding our growing product line, and working with publishers to improve the frequency of international English releases.
We would like to thank our community for their continuous support throughout the past 15 years of service. The support and voice of the community is incredibly important to us and we will continue to be as attentive as ever. We actively encourage any feedback or suggestions whether it be via social media, email, or our own Discord server. We will to continue down this path and find new and exciting ways to engage with our customers in 2018 and beyond, so keep an eye out!
To celebrate our 15 Year Anniversary we are producing a limited print for all our staff and any members of the community who want to celebrate with us! Choose between two versions, short and long sleeve.