In gaming, we are taking local content to the global market: 88Pictures' Shinde

Published - August 18, 2021 10:08 pm IST

88 Pictures is the studio behind some animation content that has come out from India in the last few years such as the Trollhunters Trilogy, and Fast & Furious.

Milind D. Shinde, Founder and CEO of 88 pictures is an animation industry veteran and was with DreamWorks Animation before setting out on his own.

As it completes five years, 88 Pictures plans to enter the mobile and console-gaming segments and is also eyeing a place in the industry as a production house.


How did you transition from working for top animation studios to starting your company in India?

I worked with DreamWorks Animation for 8-9 years. The television work it started getting was being outsourced and I was managing those studios. I realised that work, which is lower to middle range, predominantly comes to India because it is cheaper. It is not because of technological prowess but purely for its cost advantage. But as you move higher in the value chain of content, there is hesitation about sending work to India. I realised that this was a problem in India becoming the next animation destination. Knowing companies working here, I did a need-gap analysis, kept thinking about needs for a couple of years and how things can be done differently. You can surely do high-end work if you start with really good technical and creative abilities, stay simple and small, and focus. I approached DreamWorks, told them about my plans and told them that I would do good work for them.

How has it panned out since you set out on your own?

I am happy with our five-year journey because we did what we wanted to do. Investors had given us a [target] which we surpassed. We wanted to do only high-end and critically acclaimed work. We did that along with evolving a creative culture, technological prowess and artistic empowerment. More importantly, I have visibility for next five years with promised contracts and agreements.

Was the gaming division always on cards?

It is an extension. In the pandemic, the most number of game downloads came from India. Gaming is going to change the way social media, the Internet and technology operate. We have creative skills and technological expertise. This extension was always on cards. We want to create our own games and not do it for someone else. We are following the ‘glocal’ philosophy, where we are taking local content for the global market. The game console that we are launching will take inspiration from the arts and stories of India and try to put together fun and adventurous games. We have a prototype ready and the launch is planned towards the end of the year.

Where does India stand globally in the gaming industry?

Gaming was natively an American and Japanese sport – simply because of the ability to have computers and the reach of technology there. This has changed a lot, for a country of 1.3 billion, like us. With digital revolution and schemes like Aatmanirbhar Bharat, we will be a top force by 2024-25. It is an addressable market, growing each day. The pure consumption will drive the market. We obviously target the Indian market. But our content will not be so overtly Indian that foreign audience won’t relate to it.

Does the Indian market need to evolve in terms of quality of animation?

For the art process, when it comes to India versus the U.S.A. or Europe, we treat it as one of the many subjects in our education system; while for them, it is embedded in their system. Also, our sensibility of storytelling is tuned for the Indian audience. This isn’t a comment on its quality. But from an animation perspective, not a single Indian content movie has gone there.

Is 88 Pictures planning to be a content creator or a production house?

We don’t want to build our branding on the work-for-hire service model but are keen on the content creation model. We have a project that we are working on, which cannot be disclosed now. But with this begins the journey to take Indian content to the world. We aim to become one of the top five boutique studios in the world.

Are you collaborating with Indian production houses?

Unfortunately, not yet. The content that Indian consumers are served are at a lower spectrum from a value-chain perspective. We designed the studio to cater to the high-end market. It doesn’t work for us on economies of scale. It may change in the future, but as of now we are working with foreign studios.

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