India is a nation where gaming is definitely catching up. Be it games on mobiles, PC or the emerging console culture; these are collectively getting the gen next hooked on to the gaming bandwagon. Yet there remain a few hitches which are working as barriers to the gaming industry’s growth.
This and more was discussed at a session at the NASSCOM Animation & Gaming Summit, Hyderabad. The session was chaired by Dhruva Interactive’s Rajesh Rao and included Microsoft’s Ashim Das Mathur, Games2win’s Alok Kejriwal, Indiagames Samir Bangara and Sony Computer’s Atindriya Bose.
Taking the first strike, Rajesh said, ”In India all gaming verticals are growing at the same time and today’s youth is consuming games and spending on them. Apart from it, we have also witnessed a growth in the number of studios; people are coming forward to open small and mid-sized studios and are developing games for different platform.”
Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has been in India for a while now and the company has tried to understand the behavior and needs of the consumer. Sharing his market experience, Ashim said, ”It has been close to three and a half years in the Indian market and we have invested a lot in the market in terms of branding, training and promotion. For us the high price of the console (due to custom and import duty) is a key factor and a major hindrance.”
Increased consumer awareness and an anti-gaming mentality also plague the potential of gaming. As a traditional state of mind, parents still think that gaming could spoil their kids and has no future as a career option, which is certainly wrong. Talking about Xbox Live, he said, ”Broadband penetration is increasing and Xbox Live is doing well. When gamers are on ‘live’ it becomes an entertainment console rather that just gaming console.”
Alok, who runs one of leading online gaming company in India, Games2win, said, ”We believe in producing a variety of the games and keep pushing them on the channel. So if there are more games, more consumers will come on the site. Advergames are only profitable when the cost of developing and publishing a game is less than the cost of advertisements you are getting.”
Discussing the challenges on the mobile front, Samir said, ‘Consumer awareness is the key challenge for us in India. There is a huge subscriber base of mobile users here but only 40% of mobiles are capable of downloading a game. Only 25% of consumers are aware that they can download a game on their mobiles and of that only 5% people actually download games. When 3G comes in, people will be de facto mobile educated and consumer awareness will increase in the next couple of years.”
Atindriya Bose, who takes care of PSP, PS2 and PS3 for the Indian market, has a similar opinion about the pricing and consumer awareness. ”We are selling consoles in India at 30% more cost with 20% less features to 50% less-earning people as compared to the global industry. Also, piracy is a major challenge for us,” he concluded.