“There’s no game deck management guru around today”, said Krishna Durba, Head VAS, Business & Marketing for Reliance Infocomm, responding to my questions on deck management – what kind of experience do their deck managers have in content development or gaming. On further prodding, he suggested that he’s open to allowing game developers manage Infocomm’s game decks, 2 months at a time. I asked for a show of hands for who’d like a go at deck management, and sure enough every game developer had his hand up (Rajesh Rao of Dhruva had both hands up :).
The other key statements I remember from the panel – Manoj Dawane, CEO of Mauj Telecom acknowledged that they run a huge risk with film based games, given the minimum guarantee they have to pay to content owners like EROS; if a film flops, that’s the end of that game. Since a majority of the funding they’ve received has gone into paying minimum guarantees to service providers, yes – the VCs have effectively funded their minimum guarantees, though they have based funding on the business plan.
Dawane put on his GSM operator hat for a bit – he was with Airtel before taking over as CEO of Mauj – and said that operators do not want to ease up on the revenue share for content and gaming for one simple reason – content and gaming contributes heavily to EBITDA; the EBITDA multiple is around 30 times, even if in absolute terms the contribution is probably less than Rs. 50 lakh.
Samir Bangara, COO of Indiagames agreed that India is more of a valuation game right now, and 70 percent of their revenue comes from the international markets. I asked why they’re not launching a game subscription service like Games on Demand on Mobile, and he said that’s in the works. He’s much more bullish on a subscription model than an advertising supported model like a Greystripe or a Hovr. Salil Bhargava, CEO of Reliance owned Jump Games said that they don’t receive any preferential treatment from Reliance Infocomm; all the developers on the panel – Jump Games, Mauj or Indiagames – said that their business would not be sustainable if they only had an India focused operation.