Film producers who use gaming as a viral marketing tool are sitting on a goldmine. But, experts warn, creative strategy and better broadband penetration is the key to playing it right
Is gaming the next big thing in the film producer’s marketing arsenal? Going by the trend, the answer might be a resounding ‘yes’.
For instance, many recent films like 3 Idiots and Kurbaan used games based on their respective storylines to attract audiences. And it seemed to work. Besides, with digital technology popularising distribution platforms such as Direct-to-Home (DTH), the future of film-based gaming appears very promising.
It’s something first-movers in India, like Indiagames, Zapak and Hungama, are already cashing in on, with some Hindi filmmakers showing an affinity for the medium.
And there’s plenty of scope for creative marketing strategies. For instance, the mobile game developed for Kurbaan promised to give the winner exclusive wallpapers and ringtones of the film.
No wonder forthcoming films like Salman Khan’s Veer and My Name is Khan might just use games as a marketing vehicle.
Arun Mehra, COO, Zapak Digital Entertainment, says, “After playing the game based on the film 3 Idiots, almost 97 per cent of the people went to watch the film a second time. Producers need to become progressive partners with gaming companies. They should understand that using gaming as a device to promote a film can fetch more traction with the audience. Games increase the shelf life of a film and help them live a second life.”
Film-based games have been around for at least six to seven years but turning them into money-spinners has not been easy. Rahul Razdan, head of Gaming and Communication for ibibo.com, says, “Games should have repeat value and constantly recreate or upgrade themselves to keep gamers hooked. Currently, gaming may not be contributing a huge chunk to a film’s revenue but they can in future.”
Recently, director James Cameron was deeply disappointed when he realised that Avatar: The Game, based on his mega-budget 3D epic Avatar, didn’t take off well. Apparently Ubisoft, the gaming company, sold around 2.5 million copies of the game across all platforms. Volumes were well below expectations, as the company had targeted projected volumes ranging between 3.5 million and 5 million copies.
Despite the lukewarm response, sources reveal that Warner Brothers is planning to enter the gaming sector and use its Intellectual Property (IP) for the same.
While industry experts feel the Indian gaming industry is in its infancy compared to mature markets like the US, Korea and China, market research paints an optimistic future.
According to some reports, the industry is projected to grow from an estimated Rs 3.9 billion in 2008 to Rs 16.3 billion by 2013, translating into a cumulative growth of 32.7 per cent over the next five years.
The animation, gaming and VFX industry grew 20 per cent over the previous year and was estimated at Rs 15.6 billion in 2008, up from Rs 13.0 billion in 2007. These segments will continue to maintain their growth and are projected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 22 per cent, at Rs 42.5 billion in 2013 from Rs 15.6 billion at present.
The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group’s gaming and entertainment arm, Zapak, with a subscriber base of 7 million, kicked off a trend with the Hindi film industry, first by creating exclusive games around actors like Salman Khan and Bipasha Basu. The company claims to have cracked the model of converging gaming and movies by further producing games based on films like Cash, Karzzzz, Luck By Chance, 13B and Aa Dekhen Zara.
Besides Hindi films, the company has also hosted games on Hollywood films like District 9, Ocean’s 13 and Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, and a First Person Shooter game based on Tamil film Kireedam.
Now the company has tapped the TV space with games based on shows like MTV Roadies, Rakhi Ka Swayamwar and Dus Ka Dum.
According to Mehra, “It takes Rs 2–5 lakh to create a quality game. Investing in gaming can only leverage the publicity for a film. Since almost half our population comprises the youth and almost 60 million Internet users, the potential of this medium is huge.”
Other gaming experts are of the opinion that filmmakers should invest around Rs 10 lakh on digital marketing. Broken down, this could include: Rs 2–3 lakh on a website, Rs 3 lakh on applications and Rs 2–3 lakh on gaming. While most medium-budget films spend around Rs 3 crore on marketing today, the digital medium is much cheaper.
It’s all about monetising the medium because there’s no dearth of expertise in producing film-based games. For instance, Sony PlayStation had launched a game based on Hanuman: Boy Warrior last year, a game developed by Aurona Technologies, an Indian game development studio. The game was dubbed as India’s first game with localised content on a console.
It had both Hindi and English versions and sold close to 80,000 units in India. PlayStation is now in talks with a few film producers in India for the development of console games.
Atindriya Bose, Country Manager, PlayStation, Sony Computer Entertainment, says, “While in India there are many games based on films, gaming is so popular in some foreign markets that films like Lara Croft and Resident Evil have been inspired by famous games.”
More good news: There is a huge demand for film-based game content on the mobile platform. In fact, mobile gaming is likely to dominate the gaming segment with a 74-per cent share, driven by the growth in the high-end segment of mobile users, new content by mobile operators and the availability of 3G spectrum that enables ease of play.
Online gaming will be the next highest contributor followed by console gaming. This will be fuelled by the growth of Internet users, especially users aged between 15 and 34. The growth in console gaming will also be aided by the falling cost
of console prices and availability of
Digital and mobile entertainment company Hungama is focusing on the triple play initiative with a focus on catering to film content through the web, mobile and DTH platforms.
Hungama Mobile is accessible to over 400 million subscribers and the firm has developed games for companies like Yash Raj Studios, Eros International and Dharma Productions, on mobile phones. The company’s biggest claim to fame was a game based on the film Don featuring Shah Rukh Khan and the company now boasts of a kitty of 40-45 film-based mobile games.
Manish Malik, General Manager, Gaming Hungama, says, “In India, gaming should be used more as a form of viral marketing. Mobile games are a platform where revenues can be generated immediately for the gaming company as well as film producers.”
Mobile games require an investment of Rs 4–6 lakh. The Indian gaming industry consists of mobile gaming, which is roughly a Rs 120–150 crore market. According to experts, a typical successful mobile game gets 400,000 to 500,000 downloads while a typical good game can witness over 100,000 downloads.
Game developers usually tend to earn 30-35 per cent per download while the service providers keep the rest. Currently, there are more than 450 active mobile games available with various mobile service providers, a lion’s share coming from cricket and film-based games.
Also, DTH could be the next big revenue stream for gaming as most gaming firms are slowly dabbling in the medium to tap its potential.
Says Malik, “As part of the Value-Added Services (VAS) business, a lot of DTH players want to cash in on gaming. In the next 12 to 24 months, gaming on DTH will become an additional window for revenue generation. There will be a lot of entry-level gamers who will get exposed to the new format through a new platform and they can go up the value chain eventually to games on the PC, mobile and console.”
UTV’s gaming arm Indiagames enjoys a market share of almost 70 per cent. The company recently partnered with BIG TV to launch DTH gaming services in India. BIG TV plans to raise Rs 100 crore in five years through DTH VAS revenue.
Indiagames has already launched a game based on the recent release Chance Pe Dance and soon plans to develop cricket games based on T20 and IPL matches on the DTH platform.
However like any other medium, constant innovation is key. As Malik says, “Infrastructure and connectivity are still big challenges for the gaming industry. With new emerging platforms like
DTH and IPTV, gaming companies will have access to monetising better