In 2013, Anvil Game Studios became one of the first video game companies to be founded in Malta, setting the groundwork for what has since become a largely successful and varied sector.
In the years that followed, the company would independently develop and produce its debut title ‘Holdfast: Nations at War,’ a popular multiplayer first and third person shooter which has seen astronomical success since its launch.
The studio, conceived by twin brothers Andrew and Julian Farrugia and their friend Andreas John Grech, launched the game on Steam Early Access in September 2017, before taking two years using regular updates to bring it up to the standards desired by its “dedicated community.”
Subsequently, the team successfully released the full version of the game in March 2020 – at the very onset of the pandemic.
The social isolation created by the pandemic allowed an ideal environment for multiplayer games to grow, and sitting down with iGamingCapital.mt, Andrew Farrugia, who now serves as Anvil’s director and producer, acknowledges this.
“Everyone was turning to new forms of entertainment and one of those prominent mediums is indeed video games,” he reflects, adding: “We can very proudly say that we helped thousands of people bear the brunt of the pandemic.”
Many people faced a strain on their mental health during the period and multiplayer games like Holdfast helped offer players in all quarters of the world find a virtual sociable place within the online community.
“Players would hop on Holdfast for some good fun and create unforgettable experience through the beauty of human interaction,” he expands.
This reaped rewards for the game, and it became a favourite of a variety of the most popular YouTubers and Twitch streamers across Europe, America, and Asia.
In addition to this, Mr Farrugia states that the studio stayed true to its core values of having community at the forefront, encouraging role-play, and promoting player-to-player interaction, and that these factors together were pivotal to the studios’ success.
“We also engage with these creators to host events for charitable causes making the world better one step at a time,” he adds.
The road to the impressive heights the studio has now reached was winding, and at the start of this journey Mr Farrugia reflects it was initially given a grant which covered a small portion of the expenses incurred to develop, release and market its debut title.
As its ambitions grew, it engaged with GamingMalta to enlist the entity’s expertise and assist with its growth.
In the coming months it will be moving into the new Basecamp incubator, which is operated by GamingMalta, and Mr Farrugia expresses excitement to be a part of the journey.
Ivan Filletti, CEO of GamingMalta, delved into discussed the space in comments to iGamingCapital.mt: “Basecamp will be providing the perfect work space for high potential start-ups in the video game development, esports, and immersive technology sectors.
“This start-up incubator will provide a hub for companies to work from and help talent to grow into a community of developers and we feel this is vital to have in our ecosystem.”
Reflecting on the trajectory of the video game development industry in Malta, the Mr Farrugia explains that the country has been “very quick” to flexibly adapt and facilitate new and emerging economic sectors.
“This is one of the many reasons our island has seen substantial economic growth which is crucial for business,” Mr Farrugia ponders, proclaiming that the digital video game sector locally has turned from a dream into reality “thanks to the hard work of everyone that holds this work so dear.
The industry has also benefited from the more mature and developed iGaming industry, and Mr Farrugia explains that while iGaming and video game development companies compete for the same talent, both industries are able to “healthily coexist” with one another.
“Our audiences are different but we both contribute to the growing Maltese economy which is crucial for businesses to continue their operation.”
Looking to the future, Mr Farrugia points to the “new and interesting” ways the video game development industry will capitalise on technological process, including around advanced technologies like virtual reality and the popularisation of the metaverse.
For Anvil specifically, he concludes: “As a team, we want to be at the forefront of this advancement. We will ensure that our monetisation practices continue to uphold our values.
“We will also make certain that our current and future title’s sociable factors remain a safe environment for everyone involved.”
Although known as the iGaming capital of Europe, Malta has also worked hard to cultivate a strong immersive tech and video game development sector, which iGamingCapital.mt is delving into as part of a series of articles in collaboration with GamingMalta.
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