Online Gaming is a buzzword today. Right from a 10 years old school kid to a 30 years old hardcore geek always find solace being online, playing Counter Strike game their peers. In a way it is thought of as more interesting than the normal toys/games and texting/MMS. More than ever before, the online gaming arena is getting bigger in India.
The latest in news is India’s NASDAQ listed web company Rediff’s decision to expand its online gaming platform PlayGully, which was launched in July 2010. According to the company, its USP lies in the fact that unlike others, the gaming platform is coupled with social networking features. As a part of the overhauling process, the company has brought on board some of the international game developers like UK’s Miniclip and King.com, US’ Lumosity, Austria’s Platogo and our own India Games and Disney India. This conglomeration will help users in India to access all free popular games and also to invite their peers to play with them online.
Rediff is probably eyeing on hitting two targets with an arrow. While the aim is towards PlayGully, it surely is targeting to popularize its not-so-popular social networking site MyPage by integrating it to the gaming portal, which now attracts users from Tier I and Tier II Indian cities. It believes that the social networking feature would certainly help players to hook up with other players and share views and updates on a particular game or genre. Also, games feeds are continuously posted to MyPage to help users find the games easily.
According to Prerna Nayak, Associate Director, Product Development of the company, “PlayGully now offers more than 100 games and more will be added each week,” She also added, “It is an open platform wherein any developer can come and host his games. More than earning from the application, the application is directed more towards engaging our users. There is no financial relationship with the game developers but they get a good visibility through our platform”.
Gaming in India
A report from CompaniesandMarkets.com revealed that gaming is a key growth segment in India, where majority of its population are youth. The market for gaming in India is expected to grow up to 30% and reach INR 19.4 billion by 2014. Mobile gaming, on the other hand, currently dominates the market with 57% share. NASSCOM also predicted the market to be valued at about $800 million by 2012.
Online or PC gaming constitutes about 12 % of the gaming market and online gaming portals are becoming a big hit in the country with the coming of social networking sites and localized content, over and above the array of games that are available at the players’ disposal. There are also many providers who are competing, which eventually throws many options to them. The penetration of broadband has also been another key factor for the growth. The coming of 3G will also have its impact on the market. IAMAI also reported in 2009 that about 41 % of the active internet users in India are online gamers. And the figure could have increased manifold by now.
While the initiative by Rediff may sound appealing, it is believed that the going will be not so easy. Already there are established players in the realm like Zapak, UTV India Games (which supposedly launched its games on PlayGully) and Games2Win, offering much more games than what it offers at present.
Its idea of clubbing in PlayGully with MyPage for leveraging social networking benefits sounds like a farce. This is so because Facebook has already ruled the game and has engaged about 7.5 millions of Indian users via its amazingly popular social games. And it is unlikely that these users will come out of their comfort zone. Moreover, the site lacks luster.
PlayGully as an open platform is unlikely to attract popular game development companies to host their games on the site as they themselves would rather be interested in promoting their own games via their own sites.
If you remember, Rediff used to have a gaming site games.rediff.com, which was discontinued. This new offering might be its effort to establish itself once again in the gaming market. As for now, we just have to wait and watch.
For those of you who have not tried out PlayGully yet, you can explore the same on Rediff Home page.