The online gaming industry in India is like a tyro that has tremendous potential not only to grow in its field but also make a mark in the respective industry world over. The industry is at a nascent stage and careful steps have to be taken to see that it grows in the manner in which it is estimated to.
According to a report by IMRB on behalf of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the online gaming industry is worth Rs 210 million, while according to a 2007 Nasscom report on online gaming in India, the industry is poised to reach Rs 424 million by 2010.
exchange4media talks to the business heads of the industry on the business models of various online gaming websites, and also discusses its future.
Out of all business models used world over, the advertising model is the easiest to adopt but requires a lot of aggressive selling. Most business heads from the industry believe that subscription based models are generally difficult to run as there are a lot of free games available on various websites. However, Vishal Gondal, COO, Indiagames.com, opines that with subscription based models, one can always switch to other models, but it is difficult to do the other way round.
Industry experts also believe that free to play games with an ad model would sustain over a long period of time, at least in India. Moreover, they believe that free to play games catch and retain not only the attention of gamers but also advertisers. “Those using a download based models will adopt free to play business models for sure, but this may take some time,” said Rohit Sharma, COO, Zapak.com.
The try and play business model, where the gamer has to download a game and play for a prescribed time, is not so popular in the industry. “It is a disaster in India and worldwide since it has a convergence rate of only 1 per cent,” said Gondal. He added that the perceived value of causal gaming in India was zero since people had access to free games.
According to Quentin Staes Polet, CEO, Kreeda.com, item sales, which had been popular and profitable in other Asian markets, was still new in India. Giving his views on the current business models in the market, Polet explained, “Each model has its own advantages and disadvantages. But fundamentally their success depends primarily on how the game is built and its ability to engage gamers throughout. The item sales model in particular requires careful planning as the player needs to be in the groove all the time for him to make frequent purchases.”
Putting online games versus computer games, the former has a distinct advantage. Computers games are badly affected by the rampaging piracy in India. “Online gaming has a great future and being the one piracy resistant method of offering gaming in countries like India, it will see a lot of investment from different companies,” said Venkat Malik, Managing Director, Levelup Games.
Commenting on the scope of online gaming, Salil Bhargava, CEO, Jumpgames.com, said, “PCs are becoming more affordable, and this is a good sign for those who want to invest in this industry.” He further said that console gaming in India was facing a lot of problem. “It is a challenge for the industry to get the console market up and running, and I am afraid until the console and the software charges don’t come down, we would not be able to see the brighter side of this business,” he said.
Experts feel that still these are early days for the online gaming industry in India. But tracing down the major roadblocks would certainly help players understand the market and avoid impediments, if any. Subho Ray, President IAMAI, commenting on the threats that the industry faces, said that there was a lot of negative perception about online gaming among parents, and it could be a major hurdle to change the mindsets of the parents. On the technology side, he pointed out that poor infrastructure, connectivity and hardware constraints had to be looked into carefully.
Commenting on the overall scope of the online gaming industry, the IAMAI President said that the market was at a very nascent stage in India, and that online gaming was one of the major drivers of Internet adoption in India. “It is necessary that this segment is given all the encouragement that it deserves, and an early intervention in terms of research and analysis in this segment can enable the industry to achieve maturity in a short span,” he added.