Gaming is no child’s play!

Alok Kejriwal, co-founder of the gaming portal Games2win, talks of establishing the firm’s identity and the direction in which the sector is headed

June 05, 2017 04:20 pm | Updated 06:23 pm IST

It was 2005 when Alok Kejriwal co-founded Games2win, one of the country’s first casual-gaming sites. Several gaming counterparts had arrived and disappeared at the same pace, but Alok knew what it took to weather the storm. With the firm touching the 100-million game-download mark, across iTunes and Android stores, Games2Win has delivered over 1.2 billion minutes of global engagement in 2016, the most for an India-based gaming firm.

What worked?

Alok asserts it isn’t rocket science, “There is always content around, but there’s a specific formula that people look for. When you create a game for an Indian market, you need to ensure relatability with the average gamer. About 90-95% games don’t come from India; we are a market that doesn't appreciate its gaming content religiously. What we have probably got right is the deep regionalisation. There are factors that go into understanding people’s tastes too, like the size of a game app not going beyond 20-30 MB and the disinterest in online-only game versions. Given that our audience is still evolving, we have kept our games fairly flexible and gamer-friendly.”

Over these years, Alok has understood the changing mindset of the Indian gamer. “PC and browser audience for games were earlier very light on number, then we moved onto mobiles, which were still restricted by data plans. Something like Jio has totally changed the way the country looks at gaming, with 1 GB a day available to a user, where downloading happens sans restrictions. Google Play has moved on beyond credit and debit cards for payments. Cheaper rates with game access have aided the gamer’s cause.”

What now?

He asserts it’s time firms and filmmakers come out of the movie-game app obsession, despite having strong IPs. “What works on the screen doesn’t necessarily translate into a great game. Most apps based on movie adaptations of a book in Hollywood and Indian scenarios haven’t been great successes to date. It’s not consumers who are obsessed with movie-game content; it’s the companies. Games work when they are collaborative and when celebrity-presence isn’t the only reason to download them.” He believes games will be larger than TV in the next 20 years. “So, our aim has always been to be the best gaming portal in terms of content and not rely on film industries.” Gaming companies are maturing, though, he feels, with a healthy diversity gradually coming into the segments.

Going ahead, Games2win aims to break new ground with its idea of game commerce, since it was the emergence of e-commerce and fashion brands that helped them step up the idea. Alok says, “There’s so much interest in fashion in the country, and additionally, on dress-up games too, and men and women equally enjoy them. We found an opportunity to use brands like Limeroad in our game, and redirect the gamer to a portal where the person can buy a particular garment from the brand. It’s like a marriage of gamification and e-commerce.”

What next?

Alok is excited about his television show, MTV Dropout , where he’ll turn mentor to emerging CEOs. He’s not saying much about it though, as auditions are still on. While TV is a new format for him, the role isn’t: “I mentor a new entrepreneur an hour every day, which has been going on for six years now. Sharing my knowledge with people is the best way of giving back. It’s a very emotional thing to teach others what I’ve learnt.”

In the future, does he see a game getting more rooted in reality or even more OTT fantastical?

“Games are an entity. For instance, our popular parking game, has a mostly-teenage audience about to obtain their driving licence. The game gives them a simulation of what it feels like banging into a car. Realism blended with fantasy is when games work best,” he signs off.

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