Outlook15

As part of our #Outlook15 series, we asked heads of mobile gaming companies – Games2Win, 99Games, Nazara, Disney India and Octro about their focus areas for 2015, and the challenges that the mobile gaming ecosystem needs to address.

Which according to you were the top developments and roadblocks with respect to the mobile gaming segment in 2014? Why?

Alok Kejriwal, Games2Win

– ​2014 has seen the quasi unleashing of the android games market worldwide and definitely in India. We have a very large, competitive and fast growing marketplace that has the potential to reach 5 billion people and let them play games!

Rohith Bhat, 99games

– The rise of the Teen Patti and Rummy games that are currently giving the global games some serious competition. On the global level, the Top Grossing list was almost static with the same games dominating the top grossing charts for most part of the year.

Nitish Mittersain, Nazara

– Lack of high quality games specific for Indian consumer due to relatively scarce design talent & the ecosystem not supportive enough.

– Need carrier billing and India relevant pricing for the ecosystem to take off in a big way.

Sameer Ganapathy, Interactive – Disney India

– About 50 million game downloads a month from the Google Play store and iOS store in India – most of these are free, with in-app purchases.

– Significant capital investment in local gaming studios that produce quality games for smartphone users, especially in the casino and casual categories.

– Encouraging developments in the digital wallet and coupon sectors, which could potentially boost consumption and monetization of digital goods, including games and other content.

– App stores have still not introduced operator billing in India, which could significantly improve monetization for game developers.

Vaibhav Gupta, Octro

– Increased focus of the investor community.

– Investments have also garnered the attention of talent pool from the more advanced gaming geographies and we have seen a significant transfer of talent from the West.

– Emergence of 3G as the preferred data technology has allowed for live online games to flourish. They give the unique experience of players to play against actual human beings rather than playing against programmed bots.

– Lack of payment options for the users has been a roadblock.

– Limited credit card penetration in India, and it being the only source of payment on Google/Apple app stores, has been the key factor demotivating the game publishers. Immediate implementation of carrier billing/alternate modes of payment is a must to keep the mobile gaming industry motivated and thriving.

 What has changed from 2013 to 2014 and how?

Alok Kejriwal, Games2Win

– ​The unbuckling of operators and the slow death of VAS​. The operators have screwed the content business in the country by forcing consumers to consume ‘shitty’ content via their ‘shitty’ app decks and that is now going away thanks to the DEMOCRACY of Android, iTunes & Windows app stores

rohithbhatRohith Bhat, 99games

– It is becoming more and more difficult for independent developers (small development studios) to rise up the chart. The Top Grossing list is filled with Freemium titles, which requires a well organized team with background in data analytics and user acquisition on top of game design and programming

Nitish Mittersain, Nazara

– Growing smartphone base has opened up a big opportunity for developers to focus on this market and we are seeing a lot more gaming startups sprout up in the past 1 year.

Sameer Ganapathy, Interactive – Disney India

– The mobile gaming industry has seen major growth in 2014, thanks to the developments in the mobile handsets market and also the telecom eco-system. We have seen smartphones explode in India, with over 7 million handsets entering the market every month.

– Indian consumers now demand the best possible smartphone experience; with newer players like Motorola and Xiaomi offering the best specs at affordable price points, we expect this trend to positively impact mobile gaming standards as well. Google’s Android One launch is a step in the same direction, and the 6k-8k handset price point has seen the highest growth.

– Mobile data consumption has increased and Revenue from data services has risen to 12-15% of mobile service revenue for the top telecom operators. Another interesting development is Google Play outperforming the iOS App Store in consumer revenue generation due to the sheer volume of Android devices in the market.

Vaibhav Gupta, Octro

– Refer to the “developments” section of the previous response. The key changes have been increased PE / investor focus and live online games owing to adoption of 3G networks.

 What are the consumption patterns that you observed in 2014?

Alok Kejriwal, Games2Win

​- Lots of snacky content being consumed.

– Games becoming “FMCG” = Fast Moving Consumer Games

– Games as a service (massive success of Teen Patti by Octro)

Rohith Bhat, 99games

– Recent ChartBoost report shows that the amount of time spent by Indians playing games on their mobile increased by 480% in 2014, which is the second largest growth rate worldwide.

Nitish Mittersain, Nazara

– Predominantly global content, free to play, freemium has not taken off yet due to macro level challenges as stated above.

Sameer Ganapathy, Interactive – Disney India

– Casual, Strategy and Racing were the top gaming genres this year, with match-3 and endless runner games leading the way. An interesting consumption pattern that we noticed is that Indian gamers prefer to play games in short sessions, for example while travelling, which may explain why casual games do so well.

Vaibhav Gupta, Octro

– Consumption of mobile games is increasing across all demographics segments due to the heated competition in the low cost smart phones market. Affordable 3G data plans / availability of Wi-Fi networks has allowed for increased usage of live online games. That said, the highest adoption of the games is in 15-35 aged population, independent of the gender / location / economic strata.

 What do you intend to focus on in 2015 and why?

Alok Kejriwal, Games2Win

​- Lots of multi-player games that make use of the seamless cloud. There are no constraints now.

– Dominating the Parking Genre worldwide – because we are #1 in the category (Parking Frenzy success of #1 Game worldwide)

– Being in the top 3 “Dress Up Games” companies because we have a great tween girl audience in the USA

Rohith Bhat, 99games

– Continue our focus on building Global IPs. Building games around Indian IPs will not make economic sense as in App purchases will not take off in the country in 2015

nitishNitish Mittersain, Nazara

– High quality content specifically targeting Indian consumers. There is a gap there and a big opportunity as over the next 2 –3 years, I believe 50% of gaming consumption will be localised in nature.

Sameer Ganapathy, Interactive – Disney India

– With the changes in the mobile handset and telecom industries already being witnessed, we see huge impetus on content going forward. We are focused on developing high quality, global standard games for all audiences keeping in mind the diversity in the type of smartphone handsets which will only increase.

Vaibhav Gupta, Octro

– Octro’s continued focus will be on live multi-player games that are very social and engaging in nature. The games are addictive as our games are perfect simulation of the real life offline games. Our robust synchronous game-play technology is far superior to any other option in India and is also recognized as one of the best globally – a prime factor in Octro raising the funding that we did.

– We will continue to invest in our technology and let it evolve to handle an even larger user base seamlessly. Further, we are working on machine learning enabling us to decipher individual user’s preferences and use it for better matchmaking with similar players on a game table. We intend to use machine learning for other aspects such as timely identification and action on declining engagement, customer segmentation, lifetime valuation of different segments and targeted (albeit limited) advertising.

– We have a quarterly roadmap for 2015 to release entertaining and engaging games. Some of the games planned in this year will appeal to international audience and will be instrumental in making Octro a truly global player in mobile gaming.

 What are the likely trends that you expect to see in 2015? Why?

alokkejriwalAlok Kejriwal, Games2Win

​- Games becoming ‘media’ channels vs. products plays because of the fast rotation of hits, misses and content

– India exploding in cricket games and the times spent in them.

Rohith Bhat, 99games

– FaceBook, Twitter and Google will dominate the user acquisition space while RTBs will start becoming more popular. Re-targeting and deep-linking will be relied up by developers and most brands will move from static/banner ads to video ads and native ad integration

Nitish Mittersain, Nazara

– Many more gaming startups in India targeting both Indian and global consumer base. More easy funding available (including Nazara Game Fund), significant growth in game downloads due to smartphone penetration

Sameer Ganapathy, Interactive – Disney India

– We expect a strong shift towards better quality, international standard games made by Indian studios for Indian as well as global consumers. Niche studios will continue to grow, potentially with backing from larger firms. We also expect an explosion in the gaming fan base, with merchandise retail and Comic-cons gaining traction.

Vaibhav Gupta, Octro

– 2015 will see continued emergence of more new mobile gaming companies driven by investments made in the sector in 2014. Reverse migration from the West will continue and is, in fact, expected to be higher than previous years. Popularity of line online multi-player games will be on the up with the help of better 3G/LTE networks. Carrier billing may / may not be introduced but offline payment models and distribution channels.

 What was something in mobile gaming in India that surprised you in 2014?

Alok Kejriwal, Games2Win

​- The amazing monetization success of Teen Patti by Octro

Rohith Bhat, 99games

– The rise of Teen Patti game certainly took me by surprise. And it’s great to see several quality indie studios springing up in India to build games for Indian as well as Global markets

Nitish Mittersain, Nazara

– Consumers are willing to pay within games for content / inapt provided the right quality and engagement is there unlike popular perception that Indian consumers do not want to pay at all.

Sameer Ganapathy, Interactive – Disney India

– The Top 10 charts on the Google Play store and iOS App Store are still being dominated by international content. Only a few Indian casino games have managed to break through.

vaibhavguptaVaibhav Gupta, Octro

– A pleasant surprise was the adoption of mobile games across economic / demographic segments and the overwhelming response that such games received. Negative surprise and disappointing was the delay in implementation of carrier billing despite it being the one factor that could spiral the industry into high growth phase.

 What do you think will not happen in mobile gaming in India in 2015?

Alok Kejriwal, Games2Win

– ​Nothing ‘never happens’ in gaming! Everything happens!​

Rohith Bhat, 99games

– The amount of *time* people spend on mobile gaming will continue to grow significantly in India but the monetization will not track that growth. Micro-transactions for InApps based on friction-less billing with need to fall in place by end of 2015. Else developers will find it difficult to monetize their games well in India

Nitish Mittersain, Nazara

– Freemium monetization at a decent scale is still a bit away and will probably start showing sparks in 2016

sameerSameer Ganapathy, Interactive – Disney India

– Monetization challenges will remain in the immediate future as these are either Regulatory or Consumer behavior led challenges. Many Indians are still not comfortable with paying for digital content on mobile, and payment mechanisms are not as smooth as in several other countries.

Vaibhav Gupta, Octro

– Nothing can be ruled out from happening in mobile gaming in India in 2015. The industry is in its golden phase and even the next Candy Crush could come from India in 2015. We are excited about the prospects of the industry as well as of Octro in the coming year.