Are you a producer and do you need to promote your new film? Sign up then with a gaming portal or a social-networking site. Apart from the traditional ways of marketing a new film, the Hindi film industry is slowly, but surely, trying out new media to get the message across.
So if Rock On was promoted on the social networking site Reliance BIG Adda, gaming portal Indiagames built games around films like Welcome to Sajjanpur, Jodhaa Akbar, Hat Trick and Goal, and is busy developing games for UTV’s forthcoming release, Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion. Another top gaming portal Zapak created games around Abhishek Bachchan and Priyanka Chopra’s Drona and is also building games for top television shows.
Gaming is the next big thing in the entertainment industry, say analysts. Gaming, they claim, not only keeps the characters alive but also puts the entertainment industry in touch with the target audience.
Here’s how: around 1,50,000 mobile games are downloaded on a daily basis in India. There are nearly 30-crore, mobile-phone users in the country, out of which 91.6 lakh mobile phone users were added during the month of August alone. Globally, mobile games enjoy a marketshare amounting to Rs 8,000-Rs 10,000 crore. Currently, the Indian mobile games market is pegged at about Rs 150 crore, but it is expected to grow eight to ten times within the next two-three years.
The arrival of 3-G (third generation) will add to the growth impetus by making it possible to develop and sell high-end games like those on the Nokia N-gage platform for which Indiagames is creating a lot of content. These games will match the quality of what was seen on first generation Playstation consoles.
The opportunity is not lost on the players. With a view to encash its popularity, the gaming industry has started putting ads in between content too.
TV is a huge platform
Besides films and cricket—the two biggest youth draws of the country—the gaming industry is also targeting television in a big way. “It’s not a surprise,” says one analyst, “because TV has shown an explosion of growth like none other”. So, Reliance ADA Group’s gaming portal, Zapak, has tied up with three leading TV shows including 10KaDum, Battle Station and Arsalaan to build games around it.
Indiagames, which is developing a lot of games based on films, especially those released by UTV, has also created games for the recently concluded TV series Kya aap panchvi paas se tez hai and is currently creating games for a couple of shows like Big Boss and Nach Baliye. “Outside the UTV portfolio, we are keenly looking forward to launching a surprise package for the forthcoming film of Aamir Khan, Ghajini,” says Samir Bangara, COO, Indiagames. The company, which operates in 65 countries, has also developed games for Hollywood films like Rush Hour 3, Mummy, Spiderman, Jurassic Park and others. These games are developed in 2D as well as 3D formats depending on the markets that they are developed in.
Are advertisers taking gaming seriously? “We are working on it,” says Bangara. “Ads can support it but we do not think a quality game will be given away free in lieu of watching an advertisement—it is like watching an ad in a theatre before a movie which you buy tickets for. Going forward, our strategy is to operate on a ‘Play3’ model where we licence and create content for all three screens: namely, mobile, broadband and interactive TV,” he adds.
The gaming industry has thrown a challenge to the budding animation industry as well. Says Manohar Shetty, MD of Q-Lab, a post-production facility that caters to the film industry: “Animation films are yet to arrive at its peak of popularity in the country. At the moment it is not encouraging to be aggressive on animation. Barring Hanuman, there is no example of any other animation film getting commensurate returns on investment.” Q-Lab is planning to develop a few animated version of mythological short stories for general marketing purposes, each of them with a length of 30 minutes.In certain cases, production houses are directly entering into the gaming space. Take the example of the recently released Hari Puttar comedy of terrors. Says Gautam Jain, project manager of Mirchi Movies, which is the distributor of the film: “We have developed three games as of now based on the film, each 4.5 minute long. Interestingly, the animated character is the sutradhar in the movie itself, who narrates the story to the audience.”
After having developed 10 games for films like Bal Ganesha, Manorama six feet under and Naya Daur (post colorisation), Shemaroo has plans to join the gaming industry in a big way, though Hiren Gada, director, Shemaroo, doesn’t want to divulge details yet.
Gaming apart, social networking sites are another way to launch promotions. Noted filmmaker and producer of Rock On, Farhan Akhtar, chose the youth networking site, Big Adda, to build a community, rockon.bigadda.com.
The only problem is that broadband connectivity is still poor and far behind the cell phone as far as the subscription base is concerned. Says Sivanand Pare, COO, Big Adda: “We would like to associate with the film industry to help them build long-lasting connect with the audience so that they can market their movies better.” Big Adda has plans to include ads on its site while promoting the films, but Pare admits that advertisement is a derivative of the number of page views.
Providers of mobile phone games are joining the frenzy as well. While Nazara has focused its attention on cricket icons, Hungama has become aggressive in getting music rights and Mauz has carved its niche in mobile advertising. Nitish Mittersain, CEO, Nazara Technologies, says, “We have reached a three-year, exclusive tie-up with Indian cricket icons like Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virendra Sehwag for developing gaming products based on their personalities. Twenty per cent of revenue coming to us through these products goes to the celebrities. Similarly, we have tied up with all cell phone operators on a 40% sharing basis.”
Also, Nazara is planning to launch games around film stars. On anvil are games around current sports sensations like the Olympic gold medal winner Abhinav Bindra. Nazara had also developed gaming based on Walt Disney’s Rounders one-and-a-half years ago by developing ‘poker’ based games for the film’s lead actor, and it had earned $5,00,000 from the US market where the product was launched.
Mobile content providers like Nazara are waiting for 3-G to become a reality as it will help them go for mobile advertising in a big way. “Nazara earned revenues of Rs 20 crore last year (2007-08),” adds Mittersain. In another development, Aurona Technologies, the gaming division of the Pyramid Saimira Group, has won a game art contract from Deep Silver, an Austrian developer and publisher.
As per the agreement, Aurona Technologies will develop ‘Ride to Hell’, a game based on the biker gangs that were prevalent in the US in the 1960s. The game will be released by Deep Silver on PC, Sony PS3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 platforms. The gaming industry is poised for a 100% growth every year, say insiders, as the market is growing very fast.
“Just watch the explosion when YouTube and IPTV catch up in India,” says one analyst.
6 months ago