In the past, various production banners like Yash Raj films have launched games before the release of their movie. Films like Ra.One, Dhoom 3, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Fan launched games based on the movie’s star or story theme.
Do these games then actually garner the interest of users? Does the star studded line up for a movie actually create interest in a game or is it purely how the game is created and integrated that creates an eagerness to download, install and play the game.
‘Sultan: The Game’ launched two weeks ago for Salman Khan’s movie ‘Sultan’ has been one of the top downloaded games on the Google Play Store (Top free games section). With 200,000+ downloads beating popular games like Candy Crush, Subway Surfers, Temple Run and Traffic Rider, the game is created with a budget of Rs 75 lakh – 1 crore.
Anila Andrade, Associate Vice-President, Operations, 99Games said: “These games are created to appeal to mass audiences. When you create a game like ‘Sultan’ there is going to be a lot of interest and anticipation early on. Gaming is the most looked up category on platforms like the play store and with the right blend of celebrity impact and good creativity it is easier to get recognition on such platforms, though it is not always important that a celebrity is required for a good traction.”
Andrade feels that games like Candy Crush are also popular but do not have any celebrity backing. On the immediate success of Sultan – The game, she said that it has been one of the anticipated films of the year and that this is their third publishing for Yash Raj Films. Andrade added “We have built a connect with YRF and they believe in us, they give us the free hand to creativity and that matters the most when you create a game.”
Movies with a franchise seem to create more interest. Looking at movies in the west, franchisees like Marvel Spider-Man (Gameloft), Batman Vs Superman (Warner Bros.), Batman Arkham Origins (Warner Bros.), Fast and Furious (Kabam) have all garnered a lot of interest among gamers and have crossed 5 million downloads on an average.
On celebrity presence, franchise strengths and sustainability of such games even after the release of the movie, Andrade said, “When we launched the game for Dhoom: 3, we took an approach to partner with Microsoft and launched it on Windows. We got 1 million downloads for the game and then launched it on Google Play and other platforms, till date we have 20+ million downloads without any kind of marketing after the release”
Games create a certain buzz for the movie and act like a launch pad to bring fans closer to the movie experience and relate with the theme. In the case of Sultan – The game, user’s comments suggest that they have been hooked to the game and are looking forward to watching the movie.
When asked if production banners look at movie themed games seriously Andrade added, “Showcasing the package is very important. The look of Salman had to be worked in detail and sent to Yash Raj who further sent it to Salman’s team and then we got a go ahead. It is a blend of several things and FAN did not do as well as Sultan has. If you look at India in terms of gaming you need to have a light game with good content and rest depends on how you monetise it.”
So, are users actually interested in the game even after the release of the movie? “It depends from game to game. Before the release of the movie you get a lot of organic downloads but what happens after that depends on the kind of engaging content available in the game. Just creating a game for promoting a movie will not do very well in the long run. For instance, Bajrangi Bhaijaan did well because people could relate to Salman’s character and also on the other hand Salman has the kind of celebrity power to attract users,” believes Arpit Jain, CEO/Co-Founder, Greedy Game Media.
As release dates for these movies come closer, there is a higher anticipation for these movies, game developers eventually piggy back on brands and creative integrated content to drive these movie themed games beyond the release and weeks and months after the downloads. It is known that celebrities have the power to sell products but when it comes to gaming it seems like engaging content still has its way.