I got an invite for Nasscom GDC 2011 event on my blog to attend the 2 day event which was going to be held in Pune this year, as a gamer myself I could not have asked for any better opportunity than this to find the right platform in order to get a good insight on the Gaming industry.
Though the event was branded as Game Developers conference, it saw bigwigs and delegates from all walks of the gaming industry turning up at the event both global and from India. Rajesh Rao from Dhruva Interactive played the perfect host across the event setting the tone in motion, welcoming Mark Skaggs (SVP – Product Development) from Zynga with the traditional Puneri Pagdi.
Mark went on to present how Zynga is now connected to 230 million active users across its series of social games, explaining how important it is for Zynga to Acquire, Engage their customers while driving monetization strategy effectively at the same time. Mark Skaggs stressed on the importance of creating simple fun games that makes the players keep coming back, given the kind of games Zynga as a company has being known to develop, their teams work really hard to offer variety in game play within a limited design space available for games like Farmville, Cityville etc. Check out a video of similar session delivered by Mark earlier that explains how Farmville Crop timing’s match people’s lifestyles. The Q&A session post the keynote saw some really interesting questions coming Mark’s way which he diligently answered and was quite happy to share his experience and knowledge around social gaming and also his view on current trend in gaming industry.
The Next session was the one which I was really looking forward to was about the state of Gaming industry in India which had panel members like Atin Bose (Country Manager – Sony Computer Entertainment), Samir Bangara ( COO, Indiagames), Rahul Razdan ( President, iBibo), Vishal Chinchankar(VP – Digital Media & VAS Head – Reliance DTH), Manvendra Shukul (CEO, Lakshya Digital). This panel of distinguished members provided an overview of how gaming in India is developing under the cloud of Console + Web + Mobile and DTH platform.
Console gaming is not down and out but challenges exist around bringing in economy of scale for developers which is important to pass on economy of cost benefit to consumers, Console game development is a risky affair equivalent to investing good amount of time and money behind a Bollywood movie, Representing Sony Computer Entertainment Atin mentioned that as an organisation SCE is committed to provide the right support and backing to developers who have the potential to deliver quality content. Since there are very few examples of AAA category titles getting developed and released for Indian Market, Ra.One game development was spread across multiple platforms which helped SCE/Indiagames get the right kind of exposure for the game which proved to be a successful offering for both companies.
Atin Bose also mentioned that he has developers working for SCE in creating game titles for the wider market on a 10-12 month cycle providing them decent exposure to requirements of the global consumer, thay are already working on PS Move version of Street Cricket game released by Sony earlier this year. Vishal Chinchkar from Reliance DTH mentioned that DTH gaming as a market is catching up only in country like India which is a positive sign for developers interested to make games for this platform which provides them access to a population segment that may possibly not be exposed to smartphones/ pc/ web in any way. He quoted stats on consumer base of around 30% on their network spending close to a minimum Rs 30 per month on such casual games and around 80% of the consumer base has played free games that are available on their DTH platform. Though the quality of these games could match a retro Atari console title, it still contributes to the DTH operator kitty in promoting VAS content to the right audience.
With the upcoming regulations from TRAI on Digitization of CAS (Conditional Access System), Vishal sounded hopeful of witnessing a healthy growth for DTH gaming trend in India. Rahul Razdan also touch based on the role of Social Gaming platforms like ibibo in promoting gaming which revolves around a model of delivering fun games to play on web/mobile that guarantee minimum exposure support from the publisher for almost all games published, they keep a track on the popularity of these games. Popular titles are given further exposure from the publisher to help them gather more audience and generate decent profit for both developer and publisher.
Manavendra Shukul from Lakshya Digital emphasised on the point of making gaming development more affordable and capturing gaming ideas with game designer’s and not essentially gaming companies always, India is no longer considered just as an outsourcing hub for BPO’s / Call centres. Our service ethic, diligence and ability to provide IP security is attracting good amount of attention from global game development companies, all we need to do is maintain our competitive advantage not just with low costs but with high quality and keep a steady supply of talent pool growing with different institutes. Parents now consider game development as a viable career for their children, which again was a different story 6-7 years back; however there is a lot to do in creating this awareness about the industry amongst such parents to make them understand the entire spectrum of the gaming industry.
Web and Mobile platforms are surging at a higher rate in terms of developer support, however the OS space in mobile market is generating too much noise for now which developers need to be wary of, they need to set clear strategy around their target audience, the channel through which the game needs to be funnelled through is important, because Computers are getting smaller by the day and mobile phone screens are growing in size simultaneously.
Samir Bangara spoke around the revenue sharing model available for game developers, how Indiagames as a company has evolved in shifting their strategy quickly with the changing trends within the gaming industry. Consumer’s today are engaging actively with brands via Social networks and companies are willing to invest in In-Game promotions willingly which was not the case few years back where he quoted example of Ra.One Genesis game where Parle Biscuits turned out to be their major sponsor for this game for In-Game advertisements, this view was also supported by Vishal Chinchkar since DTH gaming is connected to TV as a medium of broadcast, it provides instant brand recall value and exposure through gaming.
The panel of members were themselves surprised to see the turnout of the audience for this session which was quite interactive and interesting questions pouring in from the delegates were answered satisfactorily.
Day 1 event further progressed to another kick-ass keynote by Vishal Gondal (CEO – Indiagames) with Vishal Golia (CEO, Gamiana) and Chetan Shah (IAN Member) around exploring your entrepreneurship capabilities in gaming industry, this event was a true eye-opener with a reality check that one needs to have while dedicating themselves to the passion one may carry for Gaming. you need to be cautious of not entering into a business continuing it as a hobby, There are angel investors who would be ready to provide you support financially to your dream venture provided you have got focus and strategy in place of what you want to do and how different you are going to be from other’s when you launch. Timing your idea with execution is important else that Idea would soon become history.
The line-up of sessions at this event was pretty impressive which covered multiple aspects of gaming industry, I also attended the session on Gaming Laws and IP issues faced in India which was a good takeaway for me, Hemanth Sharma from Adobe presented a informative session on importance of design and colors in game development, arrangements at Hyatt Regency hotel for the event were very good, I thought the sound team was playing spoilsport occasionally mis-managing the audio support during the event.
Day 1 at the event also had Booth Babes near the stall section of the hotel which attracted good amount of crowd eager to snap pictures with them, I felt that commercially this event was kept low scale as Ubisoft and HTC stalls were the only prominent one’s, with very limited space available within the hotel probably the count could have being kept low, would love to see some Indie game artists or game publishers to showcase their talent during future events.
Highlights of the second day event were sessions by Pauline Jacquey (MD Ubisoft India) and Ian Livingstone (Life President at Eidos), Ian presented some interesting stats on the growth of gaming industry globally. Mobile gaming market is poised to touch $13.4 billion in revenue , Games sold via digital channels would exceed sales of physical goods sold via retail channel by year 2013, he also shared his journey at Eidos on how an IP like Lara Croft went on to become the biggest money spinner for them across years to come. He acknowledged the role of companies like Zynga who have brought casual gamers (now connected socially)back to gaming scene which was kind of lost in the hype of growing fad around console gaming which kept going complex, though it was setting standards graphically. Pauline was very candid in her view around why India as a gaming hub needs to develop its capability around doubling its quality delivery in less than 5 years to come from now in the wake of rising inflationary pressure on developing economies that is growing rapidly which tends to push cost of development upwards and hampers competitive advantage against other low cost destinations rising equally in quality standards.
The most impressive story for me at the event was from a very humble team of Version2Games which has worked on the first PS3 title from India which is going to be launched globally next year in Q1 2012, of the game Smash ‘N” Survive (SnS). This team had no relation to gaming industry and was working into developing simulation models under the umbrella of Zen Technologies. They shared their own roller coaster journey of how they ended up being funded by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe to develop a compelling IP which left me awe-struck on the quality of work this team has delivered to polish this product before release even if it meant delaying the actual release. It was not all smooth drive on the road for V2G team, they had their share of downfalls and rejections which did not deter them from gathering themselves again and working towards their commitment which is clearly visible from the teaser trailer of SnS game.
I also attended a session on evolution of 3D art in gaming industry covered by Arijit Goon from Indiagames that showcased the kind of detailing and rendering effort that goes into creating and animating game characters which is completely different from the movie CGI scenario.
Nasscom’s effort is really commendable to bring so much talent and expertise under one roof and throwing it open for the game development community to benefit from, as such events help developers to interact and create connections to market themselves, exhibit their talent and get noticed by the right people at the right place. I have posted a suggestion to Nasscom team to extend the reach of this event to the wider gaming community which would go a long way in building awareness on Gaming industry in India, all I can say is that last 2 days were defined with true Gaming Awesomeness for me and I really had a great time gaining useful knowledge out of this event and my respect for Game developers has surely gone a level up!
Check out the Event Pics Album here
Video Links to the event below: