As the gaming wave surges internationally, the tidings are increasingly improving for Indian developers and publishers too.
Ghajini, Hanuman, Dhoom 2, gilli danda, kabaddi and many more…the list is soon going to be longer. Many have arrived, several others are in the pipeline and a slate of localized Indian games is being planned. With the growth of the Indian gaming space and the emergence of a number of new players, the market has also started accepting localized content.
Conventional wisdom says that with the emergence made-to-order Indian games, the opportunities for game developers, publishers, console owners and online game portals will abound. But is that happening? Is India ready to embrace this ‘made in India, made for India’ content wave? How does the Indian consumer, who is also exposed to work class content, react to the localized games genre? Let’s find out.
Who consumes localized Indian games?
Says Alok Kejriwal, CEO of Games2win.com, whose company has games in 23 global languages and a huge bouquet of games on based on Indian themes, “We develop around 20 online casual games every month, out of which around four to five are based on Indian themes. Surprisingly, if we talk numbers, consumers from foreign countries are more hooked on to Indian games as compared to Indian gamers.”
Alok further questions the viability of PC and console localized content. “We have an online platform through which we can take our games to the world wide audience; but localized games on PC and console are not a fair model as they have limited lifecycles and gamers don’t hook on much on such kind of games. Besides, it takes a lot of time and money to develop games on PC and console platform.”
Bhavya Parekh, an avid gamer and owner of one of the best gaming cafes in Mumbai, NRG gaming cafe, says, “At our cafe, gamers prefer to play international games because those games have quality graphics and stories which excite them. I personally have tried playing a couple of localized games but liked only the ones which have an interesting storyline and game play.” And that, most think, is in short supply.
“Gamers will definitely play a game if it has a universal appeal and challenging game play. We want to see more of quality Indian games which can attract gamers as compared to the huge number of international titles,” Bhavya adds.
Taking the lead in developing original IP based games on consoles, Sony recently launched its first Indianized game, Hanuman: Boy Warrior on the PS2 platform. According to Sony, the game sold 10,000 units on the day of release, but how good is that as compared to the international hits?
Jayant Sharma, the chief executive of the PC and console game distributor Milestone Interactive, says, “The Hanuman game has been one of the biggest selling titles on PS2. When your product is locally relevant and you have kept a low price point, there are chances that you will see growth in the number of copies sold, as it has mass potential. What takes you to the final success is the quality of game and how long the interest in it can be sustained.”
“It’s like releasing an English film with 10-12 prints versus a Hindi film with 250 prints in India, where success doesn’t depend on the number of people coming to the box office in the opening week, but on the sustainability of the movie in the theatres. So, everything depends on the quality of the game.”
Sony Playstation Country Manager (India) Atindriya Bose shares, “Someone has to take the lead. As a platform owner we felt that the onus is ultimately on us. If this starts happening, the government will realize its huge potential. We look at it (Hanuman) as an investment because in a couple of years, there will be a huge market for gaming consoles. In fact, if our competition also becomes more active, the consumer gaming market will grow even more rapidly.”
“At the same time if I look at what has happened with Hanuman; there were pressures and questions. We had estimated a day one sales number of 5,000 units, which is better than what a FIFA does. We went ahead and decided to give it a push and ended up with a good figure of 10,000 units for day one. Now, the distribution channel is ready to stock and position the game. If we give it a push, the game will do 50,000 units in one year, which is fantastic. If many such titles come in and the market grows, 50,000 units will be an easy number.”
On the whole, India is at the moment not ready for localized content as there are limited sources of revenue, but one that is still evolving. Though the market is embryonic, studios need to focus on quality and creative work. Who knows, down the line, we might see local content taking the centre stage.