Sify Ltd saw the number of hours of its games played online at its iWay cyber café chain grow by over 100 per cent during the last financial year. The number of PCs at these cafes for online games doubled to 6,000 during this period.
According to a report and forecast by San Francisco-based analyst and consulting firm Pearl Research, the online games market in India will exceed $200 million by 2010. The report indicates that growth of the online games market in India is being driven by the rapid adoption of the Internet; increasing broadband penetration; growth in Internet cafés; and a sizable middle-class with rising disposable income. The report also cites that game operators are promoting and educating consumers about online games.
Commenting on the rapid growth of games at iWays, Sushil Luniya, Vice-President- Access Media, Sify, said, “We are growing the online games market in India by providing highly popular games such as Counter Strike at the iWays cafés in agreement with the games creator, as well as CD based games. Players are then graduated to true online games such as A3, Sify’s MMORPG game, customised for the Indian audience, to provide the online game playing experience.”
Today, over two-third of Sify’s 3,300 cafés across the country offer players the opportunity to play games online on 6,000 games enabled PCs. This reach, coupled with the fast growing base of Sify broadband subscribers, gives Sify the opportunity to grow the market for online games in India. In addition to making online games widely available at iWays across the country, the strategy for A3 is to promote the game intensively in a city to rapidly grow the user base, then replicate the experience in other cities.
This is done through on ground promotions as well as contests where both experienced players and new players battle it out for top honours. To enable inter-café and inter-city competition, Sify has invested in dedicated servers so that the games played are over Sify’s network infrastructure. This ensures low latency and gives players a LAN like experience in terms of the speed and quality of the games.
Sify’s agreement for the Counter Strike series, one of the world’s most popular First Person Shooter (FPS) games, enables a player at an iWay café to play with anybody in the world by connecting to international servers. In addition, Sify’s online 3D MMORPG game ‘A3’, currently in the open beta stage, is expected to go into the commercial stage by the middle of this year.
Sify plans to run customer acquisition programs at its iWays during summer to capitalise on the holiday season. The company has recruited experts in online games to provide training and motivation to the many amateurs walking into the cafés to try their hand at playing games online as a leisure activity.