Saturday, May 15, 2010

Can Gaming in India become a major entertainment media?


Sumit Kr Rana, IIM Shillong

Gaming is no longer an urban affluent class phenomenon in India. With almost half the population consisting of the youth, greater access to technology: whether internet or the mobile phone, is exploited to the fullest.Although increasing disposable incomes are also a contributor, but the growth at the bottom of the pyramid is driven by the small town youth and their multimedia mobile sets. It is all set to spread its wings beyond the air-conditioned environs of Urban India, more so with the onset of 3G when the mobile gaming industry will benefit from the ever increasing subscriber base in rural India. The 3G technology is set to help mobile VAS
industry embrace Gaming Entertainment as one of their key offerings, which is already a rage amongst the urban youth. Online gaming is already a big phenomenon in the country, with more and more people logging on to and to play, not cricket or
hockey, but social games like FarmVille!
Most companies have started offering gaming platforms focusing on more localized contents in gaming to appeal to a wider audience. For Sony, traditional games of India are now inspiring gamers on the very modern interactive platform of PlayStation. These traditional games offered
in local Indian languages will help the companies to broad-base their growth in Indian gaming industry, in spite of their big price-tags. With such concerted efforts from the industry, it is only
a matter of time before Gaming goes mainstream even in the rural areas and replaces cricket as the nation’s favorite game.


Vimarsh Pratap, XLRI

The so-called Next wave for the industry, internet gaming India is still in a nascent state; with
the stones laid by Hungama or Contests2Win. While the internet and cyber penetration has increased manifold, online gaming ranks only 5th for most used internet applications.
What makes the gaming industry special is the lack of specific standards. A game can be as simple as a mouse click, or can be a sophisticated array of 3D simulations. That opens up opportunities for many players. But then it’s not the scenario: Gaming industry is all about fads, and if you have to compete, you got to keep innovating. That implies huge costs, and with fewer players, most games are too expensive.
If anything, it is an industry restricted to the metros. The I-Cube study states 59% gamers are from the top 4 metros, while 8 cities alone account for 80% of the gamers. Clearly, the hype hasn’t caught up. Besides, it’s just the genres like racing and action games that have caught the imagination of Indian gamers. Xbox and PS3 are still finding their feet in India, and even with price-cuts they are too expensive for the middle class. Another impediment is that these games are available only at branded outlets. Even if it reaches the masses, the industry has to deal with piracy issues, with most popular games available online. . Online shopping could be the answer, but it’s yet to catch on. A lack of proper structure haunts this industry, and unless there are reasonable prices, better access and a more robust distribution system, we can’t see this industry gaining further momentum.

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