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Thai gaming startup Runnex Technology mixes fitness with fun

Written by Stephanie Pearl Li Published on   3 mins read

Its Fitforce app lets users exercise along with video game scenarios.

Keerati Tanakitjaroenpat has been an avid gamer since his childhood. His enthusiasm for mobile games led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2013, which gave him the skills to develop both PC and mobile games.

But it was only in late 2019 that Tanakitjaroenpat was motivated to create his own game from scratch, after he and his friends from university realized they had gained weight after working full-time for several years. He became one of the co-founders of a video game studio called Runnex Technology in Bangkok. The firm released a game based on his vision. They called it Fitforce.

Launched in May 2020, Fitforce is a mobile game that combines fitness and fun, turning workouts into games that do not require gym equipment or consoles. Players just need a mobile phone as well as a laptop or personal computer. The game lets users set up their exercise plans and track progress like calories burned in real time.

Fitforce contains various mini games where players exercise to win coins. The coins let players unlock skins to customize the appearances of their in-game characters.

“Exercise can be boring. People need motivation. Exercise games could be helpful [to motivate people to work out]. But most fitness games require devices like VR gear or the Nintendo Switch. That’s why the adoption rate remains low,” Tanakitjaroenpat told KrASIA.

To play Fitforce, players need to install the app on their smartphone and personal computer. The game is projected on the laptop or PC screen once the smartphone scans a QR code. Players then hold the smartphone like a console controller and navigate obstacles.

Since its launch, the game has been downloaded more than 100,000 times from Google Play and the Apple App Store. Most users are Gen Z players, and they are mainly located in Thailand, China, and the United States, according to Tanakitjaroenpat.

Despite the early traction, the firm noticed that Fitforce’s number of active users dropped by 50% to around 50,000 in October 2021. The dive in activity was an alarming sign for the team at Runnex, who realized many users found it cumbersome to use smartphones and laptops simultaneously.

To solve this pain point, Tanakitjaroenpat and his team are producing a new version of the game, aptly named Fitforce 2, set to launch in July 2022. It will be a mobile-only game that makes it possible for users to work out without holding a gadget at all, making it much more like a regular workout session.

Unlike its predecessor, Fitforce 2 will run even without any internet connection. The new version will feature fantasy and role-playing elements where players will become heroes to combat monsters, according to Tanakitjaroenpat.

The game will be in direct competition with an array of titles that also blend exercise with video game scenarios, like Zombies, Run!, an immersive running mobile game that was launched in 2012, and HomeCourt, a game that records and tracks basketball shots and misses to help players improve their skills. There is also Pokémon Go, where players need to walk around to hunt and capture Pokémon.

Tanakitjaroenpat said that the success of video game consoles and fitness games like Nintendo Switch and Ring Fit Adventure demonstrates strong market demand for games that demand players to move their bodies. The firm plans to monetize the game with a freemium model that carries a USD 7.99 monthly subscription.

Runnex is currently looking to raise USD 1 million in a Series A round. They aim to close the investment by the end of 2022. Previously, the firm bagged USD 250,000 from Thai VC N-Vest Venture in October 2020.

Runnex Technology was among the ten finalists of the Alibaba Cloud x KrASIA Global Startup Accelerator Singapore-Thailand Demo Day that was held on January 11.


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