Apple CEO Tim Cook Puts Games In Focus During Visit To First SEA Apple Developer Center In Singapore

No one passes an invitation to meet Apple CEO Tim Cook, so when four game developers – including an 18-year-old student and Apple Design Award winners –  from the region were assembled at the newly minted Apple Developer Center in Singapore to meet Cook as part of his Southeast Asia visit after Vietnam and Indonesia, careful care and consideration were made to ensure that he saw the best games and game developers that the region had to offer.

What they didn’t expect was the time, care and consideration that Cook spent amidst his extremely busy schedule that included visits to Gardens by the Bay, the Apple Store at Marina Bay Sands and Cerebral Palsy Alliance School Singapore on his first day in the Republic.

While the 63-year-old stepped into the area at the Developer Centre at Solaris in Singapore’s One North area accompanied by a small entourage, he approached each of the developers on his own without a minder, and spoke with each of the four – Singapore developers Chin Yong Kian and student Jiang Tongyu, Malaysian developer Yiwei P’ng and Thailand-based Jakob Lykkegaard – separately, taking great effort to speak and listen to each of them relate their journey, not only in developing games on the Apple ecosystem, but also their experience as a developer.

The first developer he met was 18-year-old Raffles Institution student Jiang Tongyu, a two-time WWDC Swift Student Challenge 2023 & 2024 winner. While she was clearly nervous about meeting Apple’s CEO, he in turn was surprised to find out that she is a two-time Swift Student Challenge winner.

When conversation turned towards her 2024 Swift Student Challenge submission, Tambourine Story, which saw her named as one of 50 Distinguished Winners, her nervousness flitted away as she walked Cook through her process in designing, coding and even writing her own music for the game. 

While Geek Culture was present for the duration of his visit and his discussions with all four developers, we will keep the contents of the discussions he had with the developers private, but suffice to say, Tongyu was clearly excited when Cook accepted her invitation to try her game, as he picked up the iPad and played Tambourine Story on it. 

The game uses the iPad as a tambourine, where players have to shake the device to match the beat of the music. Ultimately, she said that Cook did well playing the music, to the impressed smiles and laughs of the intimate group of people in the room. 

Next up was Chin Yong Kian aka Chiny of Chinykian Games in Singapore, who teaches game development to students, and has spent the last few years creating his own hit games for iOS – Serious Scramblers, Jump Jerboa, and his upcoming Apple Arcade title, A Slight Chance of Sawblades+, which will make its debut as Singapore’s first App Store Great. 

Cook placed great attention when Chin provided background on his games, which went back all the way to 2018, as he put focus on his attention to details, which provides the game with a level of depth that players recognise.

This was followed by a discussion with Malaysian developer Yiwei P’ng from Kurechii, the first Malaysian game studio on Apple Arcade at launch. He presented Apple Aracde title King’s League II (Arcade), showcasing his team’s talent in developing role-playing games for the Apple ecosystem. 

Lastly, there was Jakob Lykkegaard of Lykke Studios from Thailand, a long-time Apple developer with several Apple Arcade favourites, including tint and lumen. One of their games, stitch. was one of the first games made available on the Apple Vision Pro during its launch in the US.

After his casual but lengthy discussion with the developers, Cook also took time to provide his thoughts on game development to the select media present, not just on games on mobile, but also what Mac users have been clamouring for – AAA games from major studios on Apple’s more powerful Mac machines.

“We’re working on it,” promises Cook when asked by Geek Culture.

“We’ve had some success in the last couple of years or so, and the inflection point was Apple silicon and so we’ve just been growing and are going to continue to grow and continue to invest, because we know it’s important for a segment of our user community and we want to please them in every way possible. So it’s a key focus area.”

As for his first visit to the Developer Centre in Singapore, he noted that the introduction of Southeast Asia’s first Apple Developer Centre in the region was to help developers here improve, which was a frequent question asked to the team.

“And so out of asking ourselves and self-reflection there, we opened this centre. We wanted one in this region that was accessible for everyone from Southeast Asia. And I couldn’t be more pleased with what I’ve seen here today, and the level of passion from the developer community, and the focus on accessibility too. I think [this] is really important because we want our products we designed to be for everyone.”

And after 48 hours in sunny Singapore, Cook has said his farewells to the team here.

But before he left, he was able to meet up with Singapore’s next Prime Minister, DPM Lawrence Wong, to discuss the long and fruitful relationship between Singapore and Apple.

But what about Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong? As it turned out, Mr Lee posted on Instagram to say that while he was supposed to meet Cook, he caught a flu bug and had to cry off instead.

Still, Mr Lee noted, “Glad that Singapore is now a regional hub for Apple, and home to three of their retail stores. I look forward to the completion of the expanded campus!”