Mobile Games company Nazara Technologies is in the process of launching a social games business, and has set up a 15 member team for developing mobile browser based social games, Founder and CEO Nitish Mittersain told MediaNama. Changes are afoot in the Indian market, Mittersain feels, saying that “You have to go Freemium in a big way. The days of selling content for Rs. 50 and 99 are over, and one has to look to monetize in game transactions. For some tme you might have to give a lot of things for free, but the number of users wanting to pay Rs 99 per game is a very small subset.”
The company will launch its own social gaming destination – GCity.in (currently under construction) – and has 5-6 game titles under development, primarily with Indian themes. It has also tied up with mobile social network Mig33 for launching games, and is in talks with other potential partners in Japan and China for launch games, for also localising the games.
The first game that Nazara plans to launch is MeriSarkar, a political game targeting the Indian market, where users create their own political party, recruit candidates, and stand for elections. Monetization is through virtual goods, wherein you can purchase a ‘Scam’ for an opposing candidate. Virtual goods are likely to be priced low, like Rs 5 or Rs 3. Payment for virtual goods will be through the telecom operator networks (like ibibo had first done), or through Mig33’s virtual payments system.
Mittersain couldn’t share details of whether Mig33 has a virtual goods payments system, and Mig33, on being contacted by MediaNama, was strangely cagey: the company said that Indian users can purchase virtual currency on the platform via merchants in India and globally, but refused to share names of any of its merchant partners in India. Mig33 claims to have 50 million users worldwide, and says 40% of that base is of an Indian diaspora, although it declined to share a number for its Indian user base. Mig33 shares 70% of the revenue from virtual currency with developer partners, and has just rolled out its developer program with partners from China, Germany, India (only Nazara so far), Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore (only The Mobile Gamer, a One97 Communications* backed company, so far) and South Africa.
Note that Nazara isn’t the only Indian company eyeing the social gaming business: its key competitor Indiagames recently announced in its annual report that it is going to launch social games, in line with a change in strategy focused on the freemium models and micro transactions; Hungama has launched TheGameBox, and Ibibo was among the first Indian businesses to launch social games on mobile in the country; Social gaming major Zynga has also set up operations in Bangalore.
*Disclosure: One97 Communications is an advertiser with MediaNama