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Get high on multimedia games this summer

By Sapna Agarwal in Pune
April 04, 2006 13:24 IST
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Not interested in catching the latest Bollywood release or Oscar nominated movie screening at a multiplex this summer? How about racing cars?

Warming up to the FIFA 2006 frenzy? Getting transported to Francis Ford Coppola's Mafia world of The Godfather? Or going beyond J R R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy to wage a war for conquering the Middle of the Earth?

These are some of the multimedia games due for release during the summer vacation months this year.

Setting the adrenaline pumping in April are four titles -- 'The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II', 'The Sims 2: Open For Business', 'Ford Street Racing' and 'Jacked'.

As the temperatures rise through April, game publishers and distributors are taking on the season with over six releases. Electronic Arts, India distributors and Gayatri Impex will release the multimedia adventure game 'Godfather' based on the Mario Puzo classic by the same name; Milestone Interactive, representing leading game publishers like Sony Computer Entertainment, Atari, Codemasters, Eidos, and Novalogic is bringing in popular titles like 'Commandos Strike Force', 'Tomb Raider Lengends', 'Desperados 2', 'Tycoon City' and 'Timeshift'.

May will see more action with two mega releases in the pipeline. On May 8, Microsoft will unveil its new improved 'Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends', globally.

This will be no small launch as, Mohit Anand, country manager, Microsoft (Entertainment and Devices Division) says, "We are in talks with various multiplexes to bring it in." This will be followed by the global launch of yet another awaited title from Electronic Arts, 'FIFA 06: Road to FIFA World Cup' on May 15.

Also in the pipeline are 'Test Drive Unlimited' and '4 The Game' from Milestone Interactive. Emphasising upon the importance of the vacations, Anand says, "Vacations account for 80 per cent of our revenues. The festival season starting from Navaratri in October to Pongal in January accounts for 45 to 50 per cent of our business and the three months of summer vacations account for 30 per cent of our business."

He adds, "This fiscal we will grow at a 150 per cent." For the records, Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division has been recording a 100 per cent growth year-on-year since its establishment six years ago.

Affirming that vacations record an increase in revenues, Sanjay Wadhwa, director, Gayatri Impex which has popular titles like Cricket 2005 and Need For Speed among others, says, "During the summer vacations we grow at about 30 per cent as against the other months when we grow 10 per cent on an average."

Wadhwa is optimistic about increasing his market share due to the retail boom, he says, "We will increase our marketshare from 45 per cent to 50 per cent and our dealer network from 400 to 600 by the end of the year." 

Similarly for Jayant Sharma, chairman and chief executive officer, Milestone Interactive Software Ltd, "The two quarters of April to June and October to December, each account for 30 to 40 per cent of our annual business."

The reason for this peak in revenues is attributed to the average age bracket group of 14 to 21 years  who constitute the largest category of players for PC and console based games.

Terming the 15 to 25 year-olds as 'hard gamers', Sunil Buch, head (marketing), Reliance Webworld says, "An average gamer plays for upto two hours daily and a hard core gamer plays upto 4 to 5 hours."

The company has recently tied up with Valve, publishers of the premier online counter-terrorist warfare game, Counter-Strike and is now offering the game at its retail outlets.

And with the deployment of this popular game across 70 to 80 per cent of Webworld stores, Buch says, "It will account for 60 to 70 per cent of our revenues." Holidays are here, so let the games begin!

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Sapna Agarwal in Pune
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