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Mobile Gaming Gaining In India

Author: Kedar Sohoni
President, Informate Mobile Intelligence
Mobile Gaming Gaining In India -By-Kedar Sohoni
Necessity might always have been the mother of invention, but development has often been driven by demand. In this case, the demand has come from two quarters: the mobile phone user wants to do, not just more, but everything, from his handset; and every industry wants different forms of marketing that will give them captive audiences.

This has led to the increasingly sophisticated mobile handsets, on which you can also call and text people – but those are no longer the USP of mobile phone. With the advent of 3G and wireless technologies, mobile phones have become as portable, small scale, entertainment systems. You can watch videos, watch movies, browse the Web, listen to music – and you can play a great range of games.

Mobile gaming has evolved into a multimillion dollar industry with stakes held by every OEM, network operator, VAS developer and application provider in the telecom industry. With handsets getting more and more intricate and advanced, with BlackBerry and iPhone and high-end Nokia phones in the market, mobile gaming has become one of the biggest baits dangled in front of the consumer to make him opt for one handset or network over the other. Now, mobile gaming stands next only to caller tunes and SMS, in terms of revenue generation. In fact, a recent study revealed that the mobile users are spending 7.5 per cent of their active time on mobile games. Further, it states that night is the most active gaming time on mobiles, while there is only one minute difference between gaming time on weekdays and weekends.

The Indian Mobile gaming market is growing in excess of 200% for the past two years and is expected to reach $450 Million in 2012. The penetration of mobile devices is much higher than that of PC and consoles, even if many of those handsets are fairly low-end. But even the lowest end handset has at least one game, and even people normally resistant to technology will master this as easily as calling or texting. With the consumer getting more demanding in terms of the features they expect from their mobile phones, games can only get more sophisticated, helping the industry exceed its share in the India gaming market.

The mobile industry has data on games downloaded from various portals but it also needs metrics to measure actual game usage on mobile phones. Recent data based on actual usage on a monthly basis shows that users spend close to 10 minutes on any given day playing games on their mobile phones. Though the most popular game categories are of the established genre –Card (comprises of 20% of the game time) followed by 15% for Puzzle & 13% for Sports, there is a spike in popularity for mobile games inspired by Hollywood, Bollywood movies and Cricket.

This indicates a huge window of opportunity for the VAS providers with the entertainment hungry Indian youth willing to explore the world of mobiles and mobile internet. Handset manufacturers are tapping this demand with the frequent launch of high-end phones. Operators too are tying up with application developers to launch interesting game downloads.

There are many games that draw their premises from Hollywood and Bollywood movies, but the reverse has also been noticed, the most notable case being that of Lara Croft, who was an online gaming character long before she was immortalized on the biggest of screens. Lara Croft has now become a mobile phone game, as well.

With consumers looking for fresher games that engage their fancy for longer, we can soon expect mobile gaming networks of the same sort that we see the Web now. Gamers online have formed communities where they speak a language of their own, with games like Diablo and Commandos that have networks of players that communicate with each other constantly. A few years earlier, when Pacman or "Prince of Persia" was the most that computer and online games had to offer, this was unthinkable. Many of these games which formerly needed a PC are now available as versions compatible with mobile phones.

There are several sources from which games are developed – Discworld, for instance, is an online game based on fantasy novel by Terry Pratchett. Harry Potter went from the pages of a book to the big screen to, soon enough, the smaller screen of the mobile phone. Graphic novels are being adapted to movies, some of them becoming blockbusters like 300 and Sin City; these are all fertile fields for mobile game developers. This has become a gold mine for promotions – if you’re looking to popularize the latest fantasy novel, or the latest movie, watching a clip on your phone might make you curious enough to watch a movie, but walking a mile in the character’s shoes will make it irresistible.

Sports buffs have long resented the time they have had to spend away from their televisions or their playing fields; new technologies that have been incorporated in phones, like motion sensors, give them the chance to take their games with them. Role-playing is one important aspect in this – now consumers have the chance to bat like Sachin Tendulkar and dribble like Lionel Messi on their phones, even if not in reality.

Given the lively market, a host of India-based Game production companies are sprouting, enriching the competition and providing ever-increasing variety of games for all ages. Although, the choice of game differs with the age group and gender, 18-30 aged youth clearly account for the higher-than average time spent on games. Especially the 18-24 years age group dominates this space with them spending close to 14.5 minutes on daily basis compared to the average of 10.2 minutes at overall level.

Popular Games

The choice of mobile games varies constantly, mainly due to the plethora of game titles available through the Internet and Operators for every taste, either as a free or as a paid service. Amongst these, cricket has been the dominant genre with the top download for 2008 being 2020 Cricket.

Industry reports indicate that service providers are the most popular source for purchasing game(s), followed by general portals such as rediff.com, Hungama.com and Zapak.com.
One important aspect of game usage is dependant on whether the game is a native game or if it needs to be downloaded. Games preloaded on the handset contribute to a large share of usage and hence the top games actually played on the handset are Card deck, Snake, Snowboard, Sudoku, Candy, Skyforce, Krishcricket challenge, Capsule SE & 20-20 World cup. The top 2 based on usage are actually preloaded games.

However, with more phones being equipped with memory cards, space usage problems could soon be overcome. Once this constraint is removed, the gaming industry will become more flexible and will provide more variety of complex and simple games.

Recent Trends

3D mobile games and multi-player games on larger screen size mobiles, with improved GPRS networks, are the latest trends to hit the mobile gaming space. The sector has also observed the launch of mobile games targeting children and youth.

After capturing the television and movie market, mythological games are the upcoming attraction with game developers and operators. Edutainment companies are tying up with operators to provide mobile games both for kids and youth who have grown up reading famous comic series.

The growth in MVAS services, like gaming, has also given birth to a new entity - content aggregators, who aggregate content originally designed for some other media, from different sources. Some of the content aggregators also develop content especially for mobile phones. On one hand they coordinate with operators and on the other, with content owners and smaller aggregators. Another key role played by them is handling of the IPR related issues - thus reducing the burden of the mobile operators.

Challenges

The telecom sector has always faced challenges both in terms of regulations and network speed for easy data transfers. However, with the launch of 3G spectrum, speed for downloads will no more be an issue.

Driven by end-user demand, gaming is growing quickly as an increasing number of Indian consumers take advantage of wireless mobility to enjoy entertainment on the go. The growth of this market sector will continue to attract publishers, developers, animators, musicians, and content providers, and also stimulate the development of innovative business models. One such model could be the Ad Funded Mobile Entertainment model wherein advertisers could get a platform to target their consumers in a highly effective way and the consumers would benefit through free content.

 
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Reader's comments(2)
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