Social Gaming The next frontier in Internet
Date: Thursday , May 03, 2012
According to Inside Social Games, India will be the second largest geography for Facebook by the end of 2012 with nearly 70 million Facebook users and Indonesia will be third with more than 60 million Faceboook users. Overall Internet penetration in India is expected to surge to 237 million users by 2015, surpassing the US and second only to China, according to consulting firm BCG. The social games industry has developed into a multi-billion dollar business globally on Facebook and smartphone platforms. India is the fastest growing geography for new Facebook users. 2010 founded Mango Games Pvt Ltd. develops and publishes viral and engaging casual games for Facebook and mobile platforms. The company is the leading independent social games company based in India, with a particular focus on the South Asian market which includes more than 1.5 billion people, 100 million Internet users and 1billion mobile handsets. D. Richard de Silva, Founder & CEO of Mango Games, talks about the trends in social gaming and the opportunities in Indian market and beyond.
Changing Internet Space
The internet space in India has been on an upsurge 2005, especially in the last 18 months. With India attributing to 20 percent of the traffic for Internet players like Facebook, Zynga and more, it has emerged as a significant driver of page views and unique visitors. The most recent development is in social media. Facebook is now seeing most of its growth coming from India and Indonesia. The U.S. market is saturated, and with India now reaching to 50 million users, it has become the second biggest market for Facebook.
Social Gaming & Trends
India has been showing a tremendous appetite for social gaming. The gaming scene is currently dominated by urban young male demographic as of now but we are slowly seeing a steady rise in female players as well. With the rising penetration of Internet in tier II & III cities, one can see this number growing up tremendously. Geography wise, India is very much at the beginning of this cycle and majority of the users are from Mumbai, Delhi and to some extent Bangalore. Another surprising fact is that the number of users from Pakistan is very high, in fact Lahore and Karachi are showing equal traction as Delhi and Mumbai.
Developments at Mango Games
We are 20 people strong company. Having understood our demographic of young urban male we have conceptualized several games with Indian connect to it. Games of mobsters genre have been successful in the U.S. and the UK among this demographic and few felt that this would be a good theme to start with. We decided to devise a game in the lines of Mafia Wars, which has been extremely successful amongst the Facebook users. It was at this time that we were able to get the franchise for the games for "Don 2" movie.We quickly developed a game around the movie's theme and in s short time we saw over 100,000 players for the game. We are about to bring a big update for the game in May, with 3D maps, new locations, custom landmark, multi player gaming with challenges and face offs and more. By September we hope to launch the mobile version of the game as well.
We are in the process of launching a cards based games called 'Rummy', next month. It is a game where rules are pretty defined and well set so the creative challenge was to portray and deliver it in a fun way. Developing the game quick was also a challenge. Normally you can take say two hours to play rummy and in Facebook this has to be brought down to 2 – 3 minutes. So we changed the rules a little bit and simplified the game. In India, we are the first ones to bring 'Rummy' with virtual currency model, similar to the Zinga Poker. We think that adding this model gives us a lot of potential to make this mainstream. We will also have a mobile version of this game coming in June.
Right now I do not see any direct competition in the Indian market India. In the U.S. it is a very different scenario as the market is very crowded. Most of the gaming companies in India fall into two categories — companies that have been around for 5–6 years focusing on feature phones market and companies that do outsource developments mostly for the console market.
It is like any other Facebook game where you can buy products, features and more such as bullets, guns, energy and more. These are free until you get much deeper into the game. But since we expecting only 5 – 10 percent of the players to reach the advanced levels, the remaining 90 percent of the players never buy anything. Hence, we also have several in game advertising. Currently we have Nokia as a sponsor for which we do a combination of placements with in the games. Currently we are running in-game ads for Nokia Lumnia. In Rummy, since one plays with chips, these have to be bought. Then there are premium games, where one can have private table to play with one's friends alone, which too is paid.
Though it is a cliché, but the toughest thing always has been hiring. Being a startup, one is limited in resources and has to be careful in every hiring decision one makes. Though there is ample of talent available, one still faces challenge in the hiring aspect.