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'Made-in-India' games set to flood market
Priyanka Joshi in Mumbai | February 25, 2008 08:45 IST
Indian PC and console game developers and publishers are gradually waking up to the potential of developing games completely in India.
The Rs 100-crore (Rs 1 billion) Indian gaming and animation industry currently outsources close to 40 per cent of the development of its gaming and animation needs, according to analysts.
Despite the games developed in India costing four times less than those developed in the US, developers were not very keen as piracy chips away a sizeable chunk of their revenue, and publishers said there's a small market for local gaming content.
The trend appears to be changing. FXLabs, for instance, recently partnered with Zapak and Sify to publish Agni online, a game developed completely in India and that features Malaika Arora Khan. "We developed the game for just Rs 8-9 crore (Rs 80-90 million) as against Rs 32-40 crore (Rs 320-400 million) in the US," said Sashi Reddi, founder and chairman, FXLabs.
Developing a game, even one with simple gameplay and graphics, involves an investment of around 12-15 months, with a team of 10 people to create the graphics and a distributor to market the game to customers.
To get the most of his investment, Reddi is also exploring the sale of Agni outside India. "We will customise the gameplay and distribute it in markets such as Russia, Eastern Europe and other Asian countries," he added.
There are other structural issues keeping the Indian industry from realising its potential. A developer could get 60 per cent more revenues for providing game content for the US game distributors as against launching a game for the local markets, where piracy chips away a major chunk of the revenue.
Carlton Dsilva, creative director of Hungama, said, "We will launch 10 new PC game titles in 2008. These have been developed by the Hungama team. But an Indian console game title is still a distant reality." The company is looking for a marketing partner to distribute the games in India and neighbouring countries.
Bollywood film-based PC games could be the answer to market Indian games. "FXLabs is not competing against the imported games. We hope to tickle the casual gamers, graduating from Flash-based mobile games, with our games," stated Reddi.
Aiming to launch one PC game every quarter, FXLabs will be adding new distribution partners. "Our creative directors are also developing a multiplayer game that can be a great revenue driver if we can manage development costs at our end." A multiplayer game costs around Rs 10-12 crore (Rs 100-120 million) in India, which is one third the cost of a game developed in the US.
Arun Mehra, chief marketing officer, Zapak Digital Entertainment is confident of beating the pirates at their own game.
"We have priced the game DVD at just Rs 546 and would get our users to sample the game through a 60-minute trial version that would be launched on Zapak.com soon."
It will also promote the game offline through Zapak gameplexes in 11 cities. Zapak, that has over 4 million registered users, has total 15 gameplexes across India and intends to increase the number to 1,000 by the end of 2008.