Life & Style

Ludo emerges as the most popular game during lockdown

Everyone seems to be playing it. From actor-producer Anushka Sharma to your friends, cousins and even your boss. What are we talking about? As it happens, one of the most popular games in the country, particularly during the lockdown (which came into force on March 25), has been Ludo, derived from the medieval Indian game Pachisi. Whether it is people returning to a childhood favourite or just discovering it now, the game has seen a surge in popularity. (Incidentally, Ludo has also been in the news owing to reports of crimes that have occurred during a game.)

And with being rated the top free game on the Google Play Store and App store (with over 300 million downloads on the Play Store), it is statistically likely that if someone is playing Ludo on their phone, they are playing Ludo King.

Created by Vikash Jaiswal, CEO of Navi Mumbai-based Gametion Technologies, in 2016, the game hit the top spot on Play Store and App Store less than a year after its launch with nearly 50 million downloads.

Says Vikash, “Before the lockdown, the total number of daily active users (who play the game every day) was 15 million. After the lockdown, we touched 251 million in the beginning of May. Now that the lockdown is being diluted, the number has come down to 40 to 45 million. As for the average daily playtime, before the lockdown it was 32 minutes. Now, it is 49 minutes. Some players even play continuously for three or four hours.”

He adds that 75% of the users are from India, while the remaining 25% is made up of players from other countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, West Asia, USA, UK, Germany and France. While one can play against the computer, there is also the option of playing the game (either as two-player or four-player) against friends/family or random people.

Before the lockdown, New Delhi-based Snehashish Bhattacharjee, CEO of Denave, used to play the game against the computer. But after the lockdown, he started playing with a group of old college mates scattered across the country, spending around half an hour to 40 minutes on the game nearly every day.

He says, “The thing that immediately appealed to me was the nostalgia associated with it. Those days, children could only go out and play a sport or play a board game inside the house and Ludo was fairly popular. But more importantly, I realised that now, every time I play Ludo, my stress levels come down very quickly. This is because there is no target to achieve; you are dependent on the die number that you throw. And from a strategy perspective, once you have more than one pawn out, that is when you need to start worrying about which one to move and when. You can also decide on the pace you want to play at on the app. There is a version called Rush Ludo which is almost like Twenty20 cricket as opposed to Test cricket, which is the original version of Ludo and the one I like to play.”

Adding that even his nine-year-old son and wife play Ludo, he adds, “It’s an easy game to play. Even though it looks like a staid game and probably something for old people, once you start playing, the ease of adopting the game makes it so that people end up playing it more.”

Degree student Hema Ashwini, who studies in Coimbatore, says that though she had played Ludo when she was young, she started playing it again on Ludo King during the lockdown. “I play the game every now and then, either against the computer or against a random person. There was a lot about Ludo on social media: people’s statuses and a lot of memes. I saw that and so I started playing.”

Bengaluru-based law student Manavi Atri also started playing Ludo again during the lockdown, once or twice a week with family and friends. “Everybody understands (the rules). It’s simple yet fun; it doesn’t require too much of brain application. Not a lot of board games are like that; there are too many layers to most board games today.”

However, she says that she prefers playing Ludo on the board to the phone anyday. “You can choose which of the four pawns to move and there is a lot more fun seeing the expressions of people when you cut their pawn. On the phone, it moves automatically and that’s no fun. Also, the game runs a lot longer when you play on the board.”

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 6:30:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/ludo-emerges-as-the-most-popular-game-during-lockdown/article31820178.ece

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