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Mobile gaming awaiting next level with 3G rollout in India

31-March-2009
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Mobile gaming awaiting next level with 3G rollout in India

There are approximately 300 million mobile users in India today (and growing), while the mobile gaming business in India is valued at upwards of Rs 100 crore, according to industry estimates. Bollywood taking the mobile route is nothing new. From ‘Rang De Basanti’ and ‘Sarkar’ to ‘Ghajini’ and ‘DevD’, filmmakers aim to expand the experience of the film to mobile screens. While cricket is most popular, followed by Hollywood titles, there are signs of more localised or Bollywood content being picked up in mobile gaming.

The one big challenge set before the mobile industry, and in turn the mobile gaming business, is better network connectivity.

Where it stands:

According to Rajiv Hiranandani, Co-founder, Mobile2win, “Mobile gaming took off very well in India, but has stagnated a bit now because consumers are looking at the next level in mobile games, and that can only happen once 3G comes into the country. So, the first four years of mobile VAS or mobile gaming, from 2003 to 2007, were good, but the last one and a half years have remained stagnant as consumers are awaiting the next thing.”

Viren Popli, former Senior VP - Mobile Entertainment, Star India, remarked, “Mobile gaming still has a long way to go in India as it still needs to grow much more, and until console gaming becomes big, you won’t see mobile gaming grow much either.”

Salil Bhargava, CEO, Jump Games, said, “We are very bullish about mobile gaming. It has taken sometime to take off, but we are seeing signs that mobile gaming in India is growing, and within a year or two we are going to see significant growth of mobile gaming in the Indian market. India is certainly behind the international market in terms of numbers, but in terms of contribution India will become a bigger part of global mobile gaming business. If you look at the value added service business, it is really the business of the future. Though it is still very early times for these businesses, India will become a significant part of the global mobile gaming business.”

Rajiv Hiranandani, Co-founder, Mobile2win, noted, “Advert-gaming is going to be a big opportunity in branded games for advertisers and brands that are targeting the youth. We have worked with brands like Thumbs Up, Kellogg’s, Castrol, and Dominos, and created mobile games for them, but the big opportunity is ad-funded content, where games are downloaded at a discount or free in return for advertising banners being present in the game.”

Trends in 2009:

Hiranandani said, “Multiplayer gaming will come in only once 3G is rolled out in India, but I believe we are going to see a lot of games revolving around the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the next couple of months, and that is going to continue.”

Viren Popli added here, “I believe once 3G expands in India, we should see better quality and heavier games, that is, games with better graphics, better user interface and better gaming experiences.”

Salil Bhargava remarked, “We are looking at above Rs 160-200 crore this year and are certainly looking at growing at almost 100 percent.”

Marketers are also going rural in a big way, but there are quite a few challenges to overcome, the first being connectivity. Operators need to start offering GPRS to consumers in rural India and small towns on phones that are affordable. Once this takes off in a significant way, consumers in rural India and small towns will start utilising and consuming games in a big way.

Now all eyes are set on when 3G services would be launched in India, which would take mobile gaming to the next level.

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