Nodwin Gaming, a subsidiary of Nodwin Group has launched Valve Store in India to sell game merchandise and Steam cards in tie-up with World Wide CD Roms. For the uninitiated, Valve is one of the big game developers and they also run the game publishing & distribution service Steam. They are famous for games such as Counter Strike, Defence of The Ancients, Portal, Left For Dead and Team Fortress among others. The cash cards (coming soon) that will be sold through this store can be used to buy games from the service, which was not otherwise possible without using a credit card. It is not clear how much they paid for licensing rights.
The store has very few items in stock with most accessories sold out and cash cards are yet to make its way to the store. Valve already sells its game merchandise through its own store and they deliver to India too, but in that case gamers will need to pay for international shipping. In case of the India store, gamers will still have to pay up for courier charges of Rs 125 for single items and Rs 550 for bulk orders.
Apart from selling these merchandises through this store, they also plan to open ‘Secret Shops’ (stalls that sell merchandise) at gaming tournaments organised by Re-Inforcement, a subsidiary of Nodwin Gaming that organises gaming tournaments.
What Valve Store offers
Valve store has items that one can use on a day-to-day basis such as t-shirts, chains, patches, mugs, glasses etc apart from the costlier figurines from various Valve games. It also sells plush toys, posters signed by the game developers and will start selling Trading Cards in the near future. The interface is responsive in design, but quite clunky in implementation when on mobile. It uses Shopify in the backend but there seems to be only cash on delivery as a payment option.
Update: The company has informed us that a payment gateway will be set up soon. Also, all products will be available in December and those that are out of stock can be pre-ordered.
A lot of the items are out of stock and what’s available has limited stock, indicating that these goods have been imported. It is not clear if the company plans to manufacture these goods locally to drive down the pricing a bit.
Merchandising business in India
Nodwin is not the first company to launch gaming merchandising here, but they are the first to license the rights for them.
Indian game distributor Milestone Interactive that also runs Game4u game shop and e-commerce site had started selling game merchandises in India two years back. Jayont R Sharma, Chairman and CEO of Milestone Interactive Group said that merchandising is a niche business in India and added that margins are generally not that great. “We deal directly with various companies abroad that have licenses to these merchandises and getting a consistent supply of these goods is an issue. The market is still very tiny, given the condition of the Rupee against Dollar, a lot of people find it awfully expensive. So there is a very small audience that is willing to pay the equivalent of $50-60 dollars for such products. On the other hand if the same merchandise was priced at Rs 999 or so, more people might be interested. For this to happen someone needs to start manufacturing these products locally,” Sharma said.
“Importing these merchandises is very expensive if done via air as they are bulky and it takes about a month if we try to get it by sea. The taxes and duties for these products add up to 30% making it a low margin deal,” Sharma said.
A lot of gaming retailers pack in a free t-shirt when gamers pre-order games, but Sharma says that they need to take license for that too from gaming companies that control the IP and even then these t-shirts can only be distributed for free and for a limited time.