Zapak & Games2win Go International – We Answer Why? And Question: Is there No Market for Casual Games In India?

Its seems both the casual gaming sites Reliance ADA backed Zapak.com and Games2win.com which were competing in the Indian market and both of whose CEO’s have been interviewed on WATShow here and here are now looking towards international shores for business.

zapak-games2win-global

Lets look at each of their international strategies just the way we analyzed their strategies before and question whether the Indian casual gaming market is non-existent?

Zapak BRIC Strategy

Zapak has announced that it would be targetting the BRIC countries and their next target is Russia.

Why Russia?

Zapak COO Rohit Sharma commented that “After creating an internet gaming success story in the Indian market with Zapak.com, Zapak’s strategy is to focus on BRIC nations to create its global footprint. The reasons for the choice of BRIC nations are similarities in consumer behavior and digital trends i.e. PC and internet penetration.”

And success story it is atleast as far as traffic numbers and brand are concerned. Zapak is ranked as the 81st most popular site (as per alexa) in India and surely with all the TV, OOH, Events and Radio advertising spend its a household name. One look at their traffic sources also tell you that zapak primarily is an Indian gaming site with little or no International traffic.

zapak-traffic-sources

Russia’s Casual Gaming Market

Rohit is right in saying that the market is similar to India atleast in number of online users it is. Russia has around 31 million online users and the total online gaming market was valued at nearly US$ 80 million with an annual growth rate of close to 100% in 2007 whereas the casual gaming market is expected to exceed US$ 30 million in 2008.

How will Zapak Enter the Russian Market?

Zapak is currently scouting for Joint Venture Opportunities in Russia but it will also invest $500,000 to acquire games from developers in Eastern Europe. Zapak plans to set up a web portal for the games, which will be developed by Russian game developers. Zapak already has Zapakworld.com and aggregator of games targetted at the International market which was launched recently in August.

Games2win Naughty America Strategy

Well Games2win has set its eyes on america if you ask me.. How can I say that? Well just a few hours ago both techcrunch and venturebeat two of the topmost american blogs covered Games2win as the next best thing to happen to casual gaming in America. Obviously this isn’t by accident but is a planned PR exercise by the folks at Games2win to position themselves as a international casual gaming company. They have also made a launch of a flash games search engine in Gamecurry.com which is currently in beta and ofcourse they had earlier launched their own gaming ad network in Inviziads.com which we compared later to Google’s adsense for gaming. All these were initiatives to go international. But its not as if games2win isn’t already International. A look at their traffic sources chart below shows that games2win had a majority of International traffic with India just contributing 16%.

games2win-traffic-sources

As venturebeat reports games2win has got over 5.1 million unique visitors from 200 different countries. Now all this without even having a single press article in the international press till date speaks volumes of their organic growth doesn’t it? Well sort of unless you consider the naughty part..

What Naughty?

Well firstly a lot of games2win games are scraped and used by addictinggames.com (check example here) which is among the top 500 sites in the world and among the top 150 in the US (as per alexa). But one may say so what?! addictinggames aggregate from a lot of sites! True.. but here is where the naughty part comes in.. Go to games2win.com and check out their naughty section for games you will find atleast 5 games on the home page starting with the keyword naughty i.e. naughty park, naught classroom, naughty beach and naughty hospital as well. Now as soon as such games come on addictinggames.com they see a viral impact and a very high search traction! Dont believe me? Check google trends for naughty park, naughty beach, naughty classroom and so on..

And guess what if you search the same keywords on google.com the no.1 result is Games2win.com – check 1,2 and 3 and not addictinggames.com hence by the virtue of their games being naughty and ofcourse being used by Addicting games Games2win is a beneficiary though whether these users or games are sticky is another debate in itself. No doubt then Venturebeat calls their games trash and ofcouse by the virtue of them being made in India they are inexpensive as well. According to hearsay it costs about Rs.40,000 to 70,000 to build one complete flash game and that is why Games2win is going the assembly line way of churning 16 games a month making sure some of them are naughty enough to be searched ;)

So how do they go beyond Addictinggames?

Well gamecurry.com is the answer. Games2win just launched gamecurry.com a search engine for flash based games and its no surprise that they went to the US blogger community to seed this news and got techcrunch & Venturebeat to cover them. You ask why? Well they have seen the power of search traffic for their site but given how unreliable google algorithm changes are they wanted to secure their position as well as lower their dependency on Addictinggames only and hence comes a flash games search platform in gamecurry.

What will game curry do for them?

  • It will help them gain insights into top keyword searches for games
  • It will help them build their own search platform and not depend on google
  • It will help them develop the right kind of games siting here in India which have high traction in US

But the question that still remains is..

How can they monetize the games that are scraped by aggregator sites like Addictinggames?

This is where their ad platform Inviziads.com comes in which they launched recently. Its their way to embed their own ads on their games so that wherever the games are embedded they earn money. So as Sumant Mandal of Clearstone Ventures the investors in Games2win put it to Venturebeat “The more piracy there is, the better they will do!”

Now the Big question? – Is there Market for Casual Games Non-existent in India?

Well the answer is certainly a BIG NO if you ask me. But what is very very nascent is the monetization of the same both via pay for downloads and advertising. Gaming by design is more of a brand advertising property than a ROI property especially if you look at ingame ads and brand advertisers spend maximum marketing dollars on TV and possibly the least online. Its the Pay for performance be it clicks or even better leads advertisers that have been pumping in the moolah in online advertising and thats why Financial players as well as dotcom players themselves form a large part of the online advertiser market.

With regards to downloadable games the same were reported to be failing which had driven zapak towards merchandising and selling discs model to earn revenue.

So all in all though the numbers are there its still an immature market both from a payment by users and by advertisers perspective and thats what is making these players look international for both scale and revenue till the Indian market comes a full circle.

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