Zapak to Have 500 Gameplexes by 2009. Bets big on Merchandising Revenues

Zapak Digital Entertainment is looking at merchandising as a way to to push growth. The gameplan is to launch merchandise around the various games on offer. It’s not clear if those games will include those developed for Zapak’s partners and affiliates such as Cartoon Network, The Kolkatta Knight Riders, the MTv Roadies Show among others. It seems unlikely.

 

The merchandise will include bags, apparel, mugs, headphones, accessories, handbands and more developed around games such as Sewer Run, Zuma, 4 Wheel Tennis, Indo Pak Cricket, Bookcricket and others.

 

Zapak COO Rohit Sharma told Business Standard that “Our main lines of businesses include online business and gaming cafes. We now plan to foray into merchandising business as well and are expecting 25 per cent of our turnover to come from this new segment.”

 

The production will probably be outsourced. I’m not aware of any companies in the Reliance ADAG Group having such production capabilities. A fat contract awaits a third party player.

 

To sell this merchandise, Zapak will look to exploit its already existing Gameplexes and double them up as sales touch points (21 in 15 Cities). Merchandise will be available through other retail outlets as well; a retail partner has not been finalised. Zapak claims that it will have 500 gameplexes by 2009.

  

We wrote last week about Zapak tying up with Bhoothnath. Zapak has also created the ‘Bhoothnath’ Game Pack Series containing a gaming CD with the full version of a mystery-based game along with prank toys for kids and the Bucchki, a high speed spinning toy. These packs would be available through the Zapak Cards network across 3,500 outlets in over 70 cities. The packs would be priced at Rs 99, Rs 149 and Rs 169. This network will probably be used to sell the other Zapak Merchendise as well. Incidentally all the merchandise will be priced between Rs. 150 – 300. They seem to be targeting India’s increasingly upwardly mobile middle class.

 

 

Sharma also said that Zapak is talking to McDonalds, Cadbury, Dominos and several FMCG, durables and retail companies for bundled merchandise offers similar to the one created for Bhootnath. This clearly shows that Zapak is looking to move beyond branded gaming zones that it has had on its site so far. Or at least the gaming zones will be a supplement as opposed to a mainstay.

 

 It’s great that Zapak is foraying into the offline space by building and strengthening its already existing micro brands. I have my reservations about its ability to open 500 gameplexes by 2009. Even if they do open them, the kind of traction that Zapak expects is doubtful. Reliance seems to be doling out truckloads of money to Zapak – the ROI on which so far has been questionable. Merchandise coupled with retail touchpoints would be really handy assets. Zapak over time has evolved and has started bridging the gap between Indian Culture and audience taste and preferences, gaming, and a business plan.

 

 That’s the big news for today from Zapak. In other (smaller) news, they have decided to launch a cricket game based on Ishant Sharma in association with Jump. Read it on CS

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