Saturday , December 10 2022
Stewart Neal, Sumo Digital

India Different From Global Gaming Market: Stewart Neal, Sumo India Studios

The sunrise industry of Indian gaming is on the rise as it spreads its reach to the vast corners of the nation. Be it metropolitan cities or tier 1 and tier 2 suburbs, there are people who are joining the gaming community across the country. While the numbers indicate that mobile gaming is dominating the field, console games aren’t far behind either. With the onset of technology such as 5G and Web3, things will only get more interesting.

When talking of console games, Sumo Digital is one name that has been making headlines. Sumo Digital is a British game development company headquartered in England with over fifteen studios all over the world. Some of its renowned gaming titles are Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Team Sonic Racing, SEGA Superstars Tennis, F1: 2011 and 2009 and Dead Space Ignition.

Stewart Neal, Sumo Digital

BW Gaming World recently discussed all the aforementioned topics and much more with Stewart Neal, studio director of Sumo India Studios during a rather candid as well as interesting conversation. This is what he had to say.

What was it like setting up shop in India?

It has been amazing, really. In the last 14 years, we’ve grown from an art studio with five guys to more than 60 people across engineering, design, QA and production and still growing to this day while adding really good people to the team. So yeah, it has been really exciting and it continues to be so.

As far as the Indian Gaming landscape is concerned, do you feel it is different from the global gaming industry?

No, I guess it is. I guess it is different from the global market. I mean, console gaming, especially in the west, I’d say is huge. It is a huge market compared to India.

I believe here console gaming is still kind of in its infancy. Although, it is growing year on year. It’s also getting way more exposure. However, mobile gaming still has the largest market. I mean, nearly everyone’s got a smartphone, right? And the availability of free-to-play mobile games makes that process even easier. It looks like esports’ popularity is essentially driving interest and growth to consoles and PC gaming.

So, I think yes, it (the Indian gaming market) is different from the global gaming market, but it’s definitely making those steps towards that place.

5G is going to be rolled out pretty soon. We already have companies trying to get hold of Web3. Going forward, given the onset of tech, where do you see the Indian gaming industry heading?

There’s so much reliance on mobile and broadband networks that the faster and the more availability that gets obviously it’s going to boost gaming. Absolutely. It will actually be really interesting to see how things turn out once 5G actually comes into the picture.

The Indian gaming industry is booming. It’s not news anymore. It’s growing at a rapid pace. More than 600 million gamers in the country. How does Sumo Digital plan on capitalizing on this?

So, as I mentioned previously, we are continually expanding to meet the demand and to create the content that gamers want. With that expansion, we now have the opportunity to work on some of the best games and bring them to the market. I mean, for me that’s capitalizing on it.

Let’s come to AAA games now. When it comes to AAA games, they’re a big deal. As the studio director of Sumo Digital, what are the key challenges you face while developing AAA games and how do you see that changing in the future?

Yeah, well, I’m not sure how the Indian Gaming scenario differs anywhere in terms of the development of games. So, I’ve been in the industry for 25 years now and the challenge to develop AAA games, I mean, it’s altogether a challenge. There are so many challenges. That’s the thing that it’s really difficult for me to pinpoint any specific challenge. As a studio director for me, my specific challenges would be core developing and collaborating with other studios in order to develop these AAA games.

It comes down to communication and ensuring collaboration. This is something that actually helped us in a positive way. Working from home was a major problem in terms of communication. However, we made the best use of what we had through Teams, Zoom and other channels.

So, the need for communication is the greatest and it has really helped us to resolve those challenges that we didn’t have previously. The end goal, obviously, is always for gamers to enjoy our product.

What is the future roadmap for the company?

From the future perspective, we consider continually looking at growth and getting more and more diverse talent and skills in the team. Looking at growing, expanding our support and expanding our core development team in the studios across the workgroups.

And that, in turn, will bring better collaboration opportunities on projects and better projects should lead to console titles. That is the end goal, to be a world-class studio. We already kind of are concentrating on being the best and on having the best. Having the best teams and the best support, that’s what it is for me. Another important thing is giving them the best support we can in terms of work-life balance, benefits, training, career development, salary, etc.

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