“We’ll roll out MMOGs in the first quarter next year.” Reliance Entertainment President Rajesh Sawhney during the Media and Entertainment panel at TiE-ISB Connect in Hyderabad yesterday. MMOGs, he added, have to be subscription based; one can’t depend on advertisers alone – is their interest in gaming sustainable? So Zapak has launched cards for micro payments. It’s another thing that responding to my question about how much business advertising alone can support – several magazines, 270 TV channels, the growing radio business, and online and mobile content – Sawhney said that there’s going to be enough advertising. He did add that the online gaming market is still five years away, and in the short term, one needs shared infrastructure. On the general media scenario, he believes that the industry is more more deeply interconnected than it was 5 years ago: JVs, consortia and strategic alliances deepening between media, new media, telcos, devices and channels. Media & Entertainment and Telecom together contribute 6.3 percent of the world’s GDP; in India it’s around 3.3 percent, and this deficit will be covered.
Sudhir Sethi of IDG Venture Fund (a $150 million fund) said that they’ve built a network of gaming players across the world (including Shanda), which they can draw upon for their new gaming investments like Kreeda Games. Kreeda, he claims, has tackled the low bandwidth issue that MMOGs face – you can apparently play Dance Mela on a V-Data card connection. Low awareness of gaming and cultural barriers remain an issue. For marketing gaming, Sethi sees an offline-online strategy…Kreeda intends to distribute via unemployed youth in small towns.
The danger in publishing games, said Varsha Tagare of Intel (NSDQ: INTC) Capital, is that one of three games may bring you the money, but you get left with a lot of inventory from the two that don’t sell. India is very unfriendly to people producing content; it’s a long term view – India isn’t a mobile, internet or console gaming country yet. An interesting point about PC gaming – she said it’s difficult to embed games here because of the way PC assembly is done (different specs all). In mobile, the monetization is in going off-deck, which is why Intel Capital invested in payments solution Itz Cash. She gave the example of “Energy Cafe” in Mumbai where one cant hear anything except Counter Strike or Dance Mela and is packed most of the time. The key there is that the cafe is close to 5 colleges, and they’ve provided a great environment – there’s food, clean toilets, and people can spend hours gaming.
Most of the discussion was, disappointingly, inordinately centered on gaming and animation; nothing on the media front.