After SimCity was released, a group of people from Maxis Emeryville founded a new studio called Magic Fuel Games. Many of the devs, including SimCity executive director Kip Katsarelis worked on classic Maxis games like The Sims, SimCity, and Spore. Most members of Magic Fuel boast more than 15 years of development experience.
The team’s passion for city builders and other simulators inspired them during the development of SimCity. Art Director and co-founder Chi Chan believes that SimCity is different from other games in that it has no so-called successful endings. You can never “beat it”. The game has no levels, no storylines, and no competition. Instead players gradually find their own interpretations, and master the game in their own way. In the world of sandbox sims, developers create canvases and tools, but players map out their ideas and imagination.
The Magic Fuel team are turning their attention to China’s vast gaming market, with good reason. Niko Partners, a video game research company predicts video game revenue in the Chinese market at 46.7 billion in 2024. Magic Fuel also has backing from a top video game company in China—Seasun Games.
Founded in 1995, Seasun is China’s very first games studio. Their martial-arts-themed single player RPGs were the most popular games in early Chinese video game history, and JX Online 3 has acquired over 113 million registered accounts since going into open beta in 2009.
Seasun Games and Magic Fuel Games have also formed a technical partnership, and the developers benefit from each other’s career experiences. Seasun Games are experts in the production and distribution practices of the Chinese games industry, for example. They know that the right combination of culture, history and gameplay could bring a game to success in the Chinese market. The Magic Fuel Games team describe the knowledge as “good learnings”. Seasun and Magic Fuel Games have also partnered up for some titles in development. With Seasun’s support, Magic Fuel Games is equipped to explore more directions and possibilities.
More than one year ago, Kris Kwok—CEO of Seasun Games and executive producer of JX Online 3—worked with Magic Fuel Games on combine city builder gameplay with MMO features. According to Kip Katsarelis, “the city-building gameplay added was a unique design”. In April, JX Online 3 tested a “home building” feature that combines Chinese cultural elements and simulation gameplay. The flexibility and interactive gameplay in this MMORPG title have been well-received by players.
Now Magic Fuel Games is working on a new title. With their rich experience and Seasun’s support in ideas and tech, there’s huge potential to create a game which draws on the team’s passion for construction and simulation.