Gaming boom catapults Indian cos to spotlight

NEW DELHI : The covid-induced global boom in the mobile gaming sector has thrown open a new growth avenue for Indian gaming studios.

Gaming studios in India which were limited to creating games for global firms saw their business scale new heights since the pandemic and strict curbs on mobility in many countries that kept most people indoors. Small studios are seeing a fivefold growth in business through partnerships with global firms. Even the bigger studios have posted a 60% jump in the gaming business. TRENDING STORIES

“We build games for both casual and mid-core audiences and, both in number and engagement, the market has grown exponentially at more than 60% for us. Esports, where we engage professional gamers, has also skyrocketed in this period. The entire Indian gaming industry has witnessed positive growth in the past few years,” said Rajan Navani, vice chairman and managing director at digital entertainment firm Jetsynthesys.

The company tied up with Japanese gaming giant Square Enix to launch a reimagined version of board game ludo—Ludo Zenith—for mobile gamers. It is among a slew of Indian gaming studios to gain from the boom. Underdogs Studio has received requests to develop an alternative to PUBG Mobile, which the government banned last year, said Vaibhav Chavan, chief executive officer of the Mumbai-based firm. The company has worked with players such as Voodoo, a billion-dollar gaming firm from France, Chavan said, adding business has gained from a general spurt in the need for gamification.

Several firms reached out to Underdogs Studio for gamified digital marketing campaigns, Chavan said. “All of a sudden we have started getting about five to ten times the queries from brands than earlier,” he said.

Developers in Europe and the US aren’t as fast as Indian developers when it comes to building hyper-casual games, which have gained millions of users in the past year, Chavan said.

Israeli firm CrazyLabs tied up with Mumbai-based Firescore Interactive earlier this month to start a mentorship programme titled CrazyHubs India Program. The firm invested $500,000 in Firescore last year.

Global gaming firms do not have insights about the Indian market and tie-ups with these studios offer them that access, said Navani and Chavan. Indian developers get to use the platforms of these publishers to test games and also learn from experiences and tools. The business models could range from being as simple as making and selling a game to a bigger company or international studio asking for games to be made to certain specifications.

More importantly, firms are also working in co-production models, where Indian studios not only get paid for the work but also own a share of the intellectual property.

“Indian firms are engaging with global developers, publishers, and studios, where they are co-creating products,” said Girish Menon, partner, media and entertainment, KPMG. “You will work with a global developer and figure out what the game should be and more. There’s a very serious input that goes in. It’s almost like we are creating a game that gets white-labeled by somebody else,” Menon said.

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