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Doing business : The gaming way

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Solitaire on a PC, Mario on the Nintendo or Snake on an old Nokia cell phone, a person must have played one or the other format of video games at some point of time in his/her life. Underneath it all, every single person is a gamer and an appetite for entertainment is only human.

Talking business, interactive entertainment or the gaming industry in India, however, remains unexplored. The fact being that in an industry deemed to be as big as a billion USD only a handful of Indian players have even forayed into the market

USD 700 mn market!
According to the latest figures by Nasscom, India’s industry body for the software industry, India’s budding USD 300 million gaming industry is set to grow to a mammoth USD 700 million in the next five years. Thanks to global gaming companies including Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo with their respective consoles, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii entering the Indian market. And no doubt the demand for newer indigenous games will grow substantially as these gain more popularity amongst the country’s youth. A golden opportunity for Indian gaming developers, indeed!

“Globally, the gaming industry is under increasing pressure to reduce development time and cost of production. Our real advantage is that we can combine low costs with abundant creative talent and programming skills that can be tapped here,” says Rajesh Rao, CEO, Dhruva Interactive, a Bangaluru-based company engaged in outsourcing projects for companies like Microsoft.

At a time when the word recession is gaining bolder and more dangerous proportions, the gaming industry seems unaffected. Reason being that business minds in the entertainment industry believe that in rough times consumers tend to spend even more money on entertainment; making this lucrative industry almost recession-proof.

Working on this fact, Indian companies have started to pour themselves into the industry. “The entry of organised entertainment groups is very important for the gaming industry as this will change the entire scenario of the market, providing the youngsters with a plethora of options and on the other hand, contribute to the industry’s growth as a whole,” adds Rajiv Sawhney, business head, Zapak Gameplex. The company has already made a breakthrough in retailing games by introducing 51 Zapak Gameplexes and planning to add 100 more in the next three months, shares Sawhney

Retail Revolution
Unlike Reliance Fresh, Subhiksha and many more into the retail business of food, grocery and FMCG products, the country struggles to find even a single exclusive outlet dedicated to sell games and gaming products. Most games and game platforms are either sold at leisure locations or gizmo stores.

As the awareness accelerates, groups including Satyam Cinemas have ventured into the sector with the launch of their maiden gaming zone – Blur – spread over 15,000 square feet at the Satyam Complex in Chennai. Blur also features Blue Café in it, where one can have a bite while playing. Rahul Gopal, experienced manager, Blur, said, “Blur has been designed to appeal to all age groups of gamers; from first timers, to novices to hard cores and aims to convince them to take the games back home for extended entertainment.”

Adding more to their retail gaming initiative, Zapak Digital has also launched India’s biggest gaming tournament recently, Cadbury Perk Zapak Gameplex Premiere League, activated in 35 Zapak Gameplexes in 23 cities across India. With games including Counter Strike, FIFA 08 and Crazy Kart, this league-based format will allow gamers across the country to play with each other in the competitive format and win cash prizes.

Undoubtedly, the gaming industry in India is growing and developing. There is a community of professionals in India who are passionate about the industry as a whole. It seems the path ahead for Indian game development companies is to constantly moving up the value chain and look at building their own game titles. The day is surely not far when gamers across the world will be playing with characters drawn from the Mahabharata or the Ramayana.

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