Game For It?

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The Indian gaming industry is finally coming into its own; estimated to be a 14 billion rupee industry in 2011, up from 4 billion in 2007, the market is set to grow exponentially over the years. On iTunes, Indians are the fourth largest revenue contributors from all countries in the world. But although the youth in India are avid consumers of the latest games released online, on mobile phones, iPads and consoles like Wii, Xbox and Playstation, game production in the country is still catching up with the rising demand for local content. It’s a great time to step into the gap and fuel the rising demand for games with the ‘made in India’ stamp. “Check out the number of India-based games on app stores or the popularity that games based on Ghajini and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara have enjoyed – you know exactly what the market wants,” says Balendu Srivastava, group business director of market research firm IMRB.

Web-based games
India’s forte in game development for the moment lies in small, independent developers who are making great browser-based games and social media games like on Facebook. These flashbased games that go on to Facebook and the web can be made in just 15  days by a single developer at little cost. Zapak Games is one of India’s largest gaming companies that specialises in casual, free-to-play, 5-miniute games that you can play through your web browser. About 4-5 unique million users visit their websites from India, and about 90 to 95 per cent of their traffic is from India. Deepak Abbot, Vice president – Products at Zapak says, “We add about 5 new games each day for our users to bring them back to the website!” Most of the revenue from web games is through advertising.

Mobile and iPad games
Developing a game for the Apple store has become a craze for almost any programmer with a basic knowledge of C++ and the iOS software package involved. This is thanks to the high returns which one gets for mobile gaming apps, especially from international customers, and the relative ease of development. Zapak Games’ mobile app division has about 50 per cent of its revenue coming from international consumers. Deepak Abbot, Vice President – Products at Zapak says, “Right now, we believe the market size is 300 million dollars or Rs. 1,500 crore for games in India. In this, the mobile app market is almost 500 crore.”
As more and more Indians buy smartphones in this growing economy, the mobile app market shows growth in tandem. Rohit Gupta started Rolocule Games at the age of 26 two years ago after graduating from Columbia. He had the opportunity to work with Electronic Arts (EA) in the US but decided to start his own company in India to tap into the huge opportunities available here. He says, “Mobile gaming is moving fast as the technology, the processing power and graphics, is improving rapidly. It is a great platform for games that were traditionally confined to PCs.”

PC and Console Games
The console game market in India is still very small due to the prohibitive price of the consoles and games. Nonetheless, there are about 2 lakh consoles in India. International companies such as Sony, Playstation and Nintendo are building console technology while independent companies release the game software. Abbot says, “For PC and console games, Indians are not involved in creating the software as they are not able to recover costs. Moreover, the quality of games created in India is not good. Getting a good game done in India is a problem. We don’t have the talent, the skills and the budget.”
Sameer Desai started Indianvideogamer.com, one of India’s largest gaming communities, in 2006 as a forum where Indians could discuss games. Desai holds that though the number of console game consumers in India is rising rapidly, the game development market still has a long way to go to catch up. International releases rule the market, and as for national releases, the quality is just not good enough. Nonetheless, the demand for local content is giving way to games like Ra.One and Don 2, with glitches and all.
In India, companies usually partner with international companies and develop a part of the game while more specialised skills are outsourced to other countries. Desai says, “There are some great games where Indians do part of the games – like Quasa.” Hardik Shah, an avid gamer who is working in product marketing for a gaming console company says, “The console game development industry in India is very small at the moment, but it is poised to grow in the next few years. This is because a console game takes two and a half years to develop and testing is a huge process. The demand is there, but the skill is not.”

Courses
About three years back, there was no one teaching game design and development in India; but now, this is rapidly changing. Nonetheless, the curriculum for teaching game design is still not good and the quality of training is also not up to the mark. No college is teaching game design as a degree course; gaming is usually a small component of the digital design course.
The lack of formal education is adversely affecting the gaming industry in India. Training people is necessary, and trainee graphic designers are not familiar with playing games. The larger gaming companies are slowly training fresher in-house; but this process for building talent is very slow. By 2015, Abbot hopes, the gaming industry will be at the same stage that animation is at now.

Where to Study-

  • DSK Supinfocom, Pune
    www.dsksic.com
  • Asian Institute of Gaming and Animation (AIGA), Bangalore
    www.aiga.in
  • Sage School, Delhi
    www.sageinfolabs.com

Volume 1 Issue 7

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