Feature: In Bollywood, gaming has a long way to go

Bollywood Gaming

Bollywood Gaming
Bollywood Gaming
Bollywood Gaming
Bollywood Gaming
Bollywood Gaming
Bollywood Gaming
MUMBAI: The Indian animation, gaming and VFX industry saw a 24 per cent growth in 2007 over 2006. According to the FICCI-PwC report, the industry, which was pegged at Rs 13 billion in 2007, is slated to touch Rs 40 billion in 2012.

With this backdrop in mind, it’s no surprise that most big movies that release these days come with their own mobile and web game. The gaming industry, which is poised to grow at a healthy pace, has welcomed Bollywood games with open arms.

Toying with varied prospects available for gamers, gaming companies are now turning to Bollywood, touted to be one of the most ‘in-demand’ and lucrative business opportunities.

Zapak.com, the online gaming portal under the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, has experimented with one Bollywood film. According to Zapak Digital Entertainment COO Rohit Sharma, any game around Cricket or Bollywood is bound to do well. "Bollywood attracts most of our gamers. When we design a game on a film we have to play it up on our site. If it’s tucked in a corner no one will notice it. In years to come, games on Bollywood will be a big bet," states Sharma. Zapak has also converted a south film Kreeadam into an internet game.

While Zapak is gunning for Hindi film games to be a big market in the coming years, some companies feel the system needs to be more rigid for the flow to be smoother. Says a gaming company head on the condition of anonymity, “The license procedure to make a game on a particular movie is too messed up. Due to this, one needs to go through multiple people, the procedure tends to get a bit tedious."

While most of us may think that only a hit film can promise a good game, India Games CEO Samir Bhangara explains how a flop film earned them good revenues. “The film Hattrick fared average at the Box Office, but the game did quite decently,” says Bhangara.

The reason for the game doing well is evident—the film revolved around cricket, which is the most worshipped sport in the country. Sports-based games bring good returns, as also is the case with Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal, which spins around football. Bhangara adds, "The idea is to pick on movies that have a sale value. There is no point making a game on a movie like Baabul."

Though producers are not betting on games to promote their films, some of them are willing to experiment. BR Films, which first doled out a few games on Baabul, is now planning to launch a game series on Bhoothnath, which stars Amitabh Bachchan and Juhi Chawla with Shah Rukh Khan in a special appearance. Surprisingly, BR Films also built a game on the yesteryear flick Naya Daur, which was coloured and released last year.

Despite the Baabul game series doing below average, BR Films CEO Sanjay Bhutiani is positive about developing games around their forthcoming films. "If one releases a game before the film, it benefits the product. The risk factor is always there, but how will one be successful without experimenting? Our basic idea is to encourage interactivity so that the audience gets involved in our films. During Baabul we were not chasing revenues with the three games that we had launched," defends Bhutiani.

Nasscom projects the gaming market to grow at a CAGR of 78 percent to reach $300 million by 2009. Most of the gaming development being undertaken in India is on mobile platforms and it is expected to become more prominent as the share of mobile gaming rises from 53 percent in 2005 to 68 percent in 2009. However, Bollywood forms a very small segment in this market.

The mobile gaming industry, as per Jump Games CEO Salil Bhargava, is worth Rs 120 to Rs 150 crores and online gaming will be touching a Rs 40 to Rs 50 crores mark. Bhargava says, “Bollywood gaming is going through a very slow progress. It will take another 5 to 7 years for Bollywood to make a strong foundation in the market.”

Every new concept has players moving in two directions. While most of the gaming honchos believe in the potential of Bollywood games, Games2win’s Alok Kejriwal holds a contrary viewpoint. "Bollywood games don’t fetch us any great returns. The major problem is that these games are short lived and gamers don’t enjoy it after knowing the basic idea. Moreover, producers want us to invest in the execution and marketing of these games, which is not worth the effort," asserts Kejriwal.

Rose Audio Visuals, which is readying Drona for release this year, too plans a game for the film. The production house has not yet zeroed in on a gaming company, which will execute the games on Drona. Producer Shrishti Arya says, "Games around a film are always mutually beneficial. Though I have not seen any of the games which have been developed for Bollywood films, the reaction has been 50-50. A lot of companies have approached us with ideas and we will soon be finalizing on it." Plans are to make games for Drona for mobile, online and console.

Yash Raj Films’ Dhoom:2 is one of the very first films to develop a console game. While some producers may be keen to develop console games on their films, at this point in time it may seem like a far-fetched dream. Jump Games, which has time-tested many products on individual stars and hit movies, has a clear vision of the Bollywood gaming business. Bhargava says, "The gaming companies in the west are involved with the film right from the scripting stage, which normally takes two years in shaping up. At the time of the film release, the producers release the online, console and mobile games as well."

With producers waking up to the idea of games around their films, it not only gives them an additional revenue stream but in time will also help the Bollywood gaming market grow.