Evidently, one sector that has glittered during the pandemic is Gaming. The Indian gaming industry has now made its place in the top five mobile gaming markets around the globe, standing at a total valuation of $930 million. It is further estimated to grow at 41 per cent each year. The sector is observed to be only expanding at a fast pace and is opening several doors and opportunities for people to experience this new form.
Roby John, CEO, and Co-founder, SuperGaming, speaks candidly with BW Gaming World around the various facets of the gaming industry
Q. How has the Indian game development industry panned out in the past couple of years? How has the pandemic impacted the overall ecosystem?
Ans- The last few years have seen some interesting trends in the industry that have moved away from work-for-hire projects concentrated just around Bollywood and cricket games. We’re seeing grass shoots of what developers here are capable of. Gametion’s Ludo King shows that making a game in India for India can be a successful endeavor while the likes of PlaySimple with games like Word Wars is a great example of an Indian studio making games for the world — and being acquired by a global games giant in MTG along the way. The pandemic has impacted the overall ecosystem positively, and it’s a sentiment that you surely have heard other stakeholders echo over the last year and a half or so. The real challenge though will be retention. How we’re able to keep players coming back with lockdowns lifting and the emergence of other entertainment options will be crucial.
Q. The popularity of games not just in India but in several global markets – how is it underscoring the quality of game development?
Ans- That’s a great question. The current trend and style of games being made in India at scale are usually casual. They’re simple tap and play fare with polished production embellishing straightforward design. However gamers the world over — India included, have been exposed to and play titles that are a lot more involved like Fortnite, PUBG/BGMI, and Genshin Impact to name a few. The popularity of this kind of games is due to immersive 3D environments, engaging gameplay mechanics, and in some instances, deep lore. We’re yet to see something of this scale or magnitude emerge from India and it underscores that while the business has seen some success, we have ways to go before we can benchmark ourselves with the rest of the world consistently.
Q. How is the maturing game development ecosystem in India increasing focus from global enterprises?
Ans- The shift is slow and steady. In a way, it mirrors the evolution of the Indian game development industry itself which is different now from what it was years prior. We’re seeing global publishers perceive India to be more than just an outsourcing hub what with Ubisoft making the Prince of Persia Sands of Time Remake in India and EA depending on the nation for the live operations of a host of titles including Sims 4. However, the attention goes beyond game development and live services. Due to our advantage in terms of audience size, we’re seeing the likes of Krafton, Riot, and Garena looking to do more in the country in terms of pushing esports — and fostering the community that comes with it.
Q. How would you define your marketing strategies and other outreach functions for existing and new games that are in the pipeline?
Ans- It depends on the game to be honest and how long it’s been since release. Thankfully we have two live examples — MaskGun and Silly World, both of which are at different points in their lifecycle.
For our multiplayer shooter MaskGun that’s been around since 2019 there’s an established, vocal community — that we refer to as the MaskGun family with whom we have an ongoing dialogue with which helps us shape the game in meaningful ways. And at the same time, there’s the potential to let the world know what’s going on with the game too, such as our 50 million player milestone reveal and in-game events like 50 hours of double XP and gold to celebrate that. In the weeks to come, we’ll be highlighting our community heroes as our way of celebrating their stories that our game has been fortunate to play host to in some small way.
With Silly World, it’s our newest and fastest-growing game with 10 million installs in four months thanks to a suite of bespoke game modes like Jail Break and Hide N Seek. The approach is more on the social, masala aspects of the game if you will. The focus here is on working with streamers and influencers to create high-impact content as well as events such as developer live streams and contests to help keep its blossoming community engaged. It’s a more personality-driven affair thanks to the over-the-top design of the Sillys — its characters that you play as in the game.
Q. What does the future hold for the industry in terms of developing games that are designed for Indian gamers and also ensuing global competitiveness?
Ans- In a word: focus. The industry has proved we can make great experiences that resound with audiences both internationally and at home. However, it’s important not to rest on our laurels. If we’re to remain competitive we need to make games that resonate beyond our borders and with wider audiences that play deeper, more immersive games. What are games that we can uniquely bring to the world from our art and culture?
Doing that is easier said than done considering that unlike established fields such as engineering and law, there are no good game development colleges in the country. When you consider the popularity of video games in this country, it’s really odd that there are no institutions to support it right now.
Nonetheless, we’re hopeful. As SuperGaming, with each game, we’ve learned and grown as a team with the belief that game development is a never-ending process of discovery. After all, you can’t just wake up one day and simply decide to make a GTA or a Fortnite or even an Angry Birds. It’s quite likely that your first few games will be stepping stones towards something bigger and better. We hope to use those learnings to help the next generation of India’s talent make better games and put India on the global gaming map.