As the gaming and mobile entertainment industry gather faster pace in the country, Ficci-Frames 2007 chose to dedicate one session each on gaming and mobile entertainment that included mobile gaming and video. Moderated by Electronic Arts of Hong Kong president Jon Niermann, the session on gaming had Spark Unlimited US’ Sunil Thankamushy, Red Octane US founder and COO Charles Huang, Microsoft general manager for APAC and Greater China, entertainment devices division, Alan Bowman, Zapak Digital Entertainment COO Rohit Sharma, Nokia director for worldwide technology & strategy games Mark Ollilla, and Kreeda Games India CEO Quentin Staes Polet as speakers.
Opening the session Niermann said gaming offered tremendous business opportunities across the world and in the US gaming was almost as big as Hollywood. In India the gaming industry is expected to grow at CAGR of 78 percent. In addition to mobile gaming, PC and console gaming are also expected to add to the pie. Over 300 million gaming consoles and handheld devices are available worldwide today, he said. Video games is a $12.5-billion industry in the US today while the American film industry is only worth about $9.5 billion, he added.
One of the world leaders in consoles and gaming, Microsoft’s Bowman said, “Microsoft promises consumers to be connected with digital experiences like music, gaming video, Xbox 360, Microsoft TV, Windows Vista, Windows Mobile etc. Our vision is to create an online gaming community.”
Citing a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, Zapak Digital Entertainment’s Sharma said, “there are 40 million gamers worldwide today, out of 11 million are online gamers. And when it comes to online gaming, it is the Communist China that is the world leader, followed by South Korea. Cafes are the key growth driver for online gaming in any market. In China there are 1,50,000 cafes whereas in India though there are Rs 1,20,000 cafes they are highly fragmented and scattered. Zapak is launching eight gaming cafes in a few months.”
Nokia’s Ollila explained that Nokia had improved customer experience. NGage experience is launching more versions of the same models in the second half of this year. Mobile is all about playing games and creating online game communities, he added.
Thankamushy explained that India and Asia were producing terrific content for mobile phones and that the biggest paradigm shift was the introduction of Microsoft Xbox 360.
Gaming companies are geared for online distribution, as this would greatly reduce their distribution cost. The cost of game production would come down if the manufacturers produced small segmented games. We should give focus on small games that are fun, short etc, he said.
Polet said the issues that are being faced by the gaming industry are exclusive content and productivity issues.
The session on mobile entertainment was led by eminent speakers like Microsystems, Hong Kong head for development strategy and planning Stefan Rust Sun, Legion Interactive’s digital strategy director Tom Kennedy, Reliance Communications technology advisor Sandeep Sibal, Nokia APAC head for mobile TV & video experiences Pawan Gandhi, Kaliedoscope content head Gautam Talwar, and Indiagames CEO Vishal Gondal.
Sibal said, “Mobile TV is not a TV on the move. It is a new medium, though its current scope is limited. We need to go beyond innovations. The I&B Ministry and the department of telecom need to support us. It will be the next big technology for us.”
Sattler said to make mobile TV a success one need to have a strong network. In Italy people watch mobile TV even in the bed as they find it convenient and easy to use.
Gandhi said, “Mobile TV came to India only last year. The consumers have two worries regarding it --will it be open standard and can it be easily accessed? Mobile TVs is just not a broadcast content. We need to have special content created for this medium.”
But Kennedy felt that mobile TV is like any another technology and like any other technology the mobile devices are also becoming more and more entertainment devices.” Kennedy joined in saying, “If the industry takes the right decision on the investment of technology, it will be next revolution of broadcast.”
Coming to the content side, Talwar said, “As a pure content provider, we need to understand consumer psyche before creating content. We need to create original content. It’s very important to to understand the format of content.”
Concluding the session, Gandhi said, “It is a great technology whenever you want to create it. It will really change our lives. In the future the customer is really going to be the king. We don’t have any technology issues. Concern is not so much of voice quality but the battery life of phone.”