With tournaments like the Indian Premium League (IPL) making cricket a cash cow, local game development companies are trying to make the most of the momentum. The effort is to release cricket-based games ahead of the ICC T20 Champions League to be held this September and the Cricket World Cup 2011.
For instance, Dreams11.com, principal sponsor last year of New Zealand’s T20 Champions League cricket team, Otago Volts, has planned to add at least four cricket games each month to its repository of 50 games at present.
“With the advent of T20 cricket, the fan following of cricket has increased tremendously. Gaming companies tried to get a share of this opportunity by launching games centred on T20 as a theme. The shorter form of the game has infused new life into this sport, also resulting in an increase in women and children playing online cricket games. Currently, 20 per cent of Dream11.com’s user base is female and what we find very interesting is that we have had 50 per cent of them winning prizes in many tournaments,” reasons Harsh Jain, founder and CMD of Dreams11.com.
According to Aditi Bose, brand manager of Mumbai-based Games2Win, the company will be launching a new game, Dominator, where the user gets to play against teams from different countries and ultimately dominate the cricketing world. Games2Win currently has seven online flash cricket games on its portals and three cricket applications on Orkut.
“With over six million online gamers from India alone, the audience for cricket games is huge. We have a few exciting cricket games planned for the ODI World Cup 2011 which will cover the various aspects of cricket, right from batting and bowling to fielding and even umpiring. We plan to invest around Rs 10 lakh in each of these games. That should convert to a total of almost a million game plays a month and Rs 20 lakh in revenues from the new games alone,” Bose says. The company, he adds, would soon introduce a cricket application for the social media, too.
Reliance Big Entertainment’s online gaming arm, Zapak Digital, is probably the only company with a dedicated website – Cricket.Zapak.com – in the world, to provide 31 cricket games. On an average, the portal witnesses 20 million page views a month.
“For the just-concluded IPL and the ongoing T20 World Cup, we have a 3D multiplayer cricket game, Howzat, and a new Fantasy Cricket game. Post the ICC T20 Champions League, Zapak will distribute the ‘Codemasters’ International Cricket 2010’ game in India on June 18. The game will be published for the PlayStation and Xbox 360. Zapak plans to launch 11 cricket games in the next seven months for its gamers. A casual flash-based game can be sourced for a cost of Rs 10 lakh. For the World Cup 2011, the Codemasters game will be released on the PC format,” concurs Rohit Sharma, chief executive of Zapak.
Hyderabad-based 7Seas Technologies Ltd, which currently has five cricket games on its onlinerealgames.com, including the Desi Cricket League and Lagaan Champions, is planning to develop a new game for the Cricket World Cup 2011 at an investment of Rs 5 lakh and is expecting to garner over a million game plays.
“Cricket games attract more online gamers and thereby bring in more revenues. For our previous five cricket games, we have seen more than two million game plays so far and we recovered our cost of production in a span of two months from the launch of these games,” says L Maruti Sanker, managing director of 7Seas.
The online and PC gaming market put together constitute 24 per cent of the total gaming market in India. Nasscom, the apex body for the information technology industry, projects gaming in India to grow by 49 per cent to reach $830 million (Rs 3,800 crore) by 2012.
Mobile video consumption, mobile television and even richer applications are likely to be the game changers for mobile phones. And, cricketing events like the IPL and T20 Champions League are, in all likelihood, poised to help mobiles reach the next level, says Nitish Mittersain, chief executive of Nazara Technologies, a Mumbai-based game developer for the mobile platforms.
Globally, the mobile gaming market is around $2 billion and projected to double in the next two years. “We already have around 10 cricket-based games, and we also have the advantage of having celebrity games surrounding Virendra Sehwag. Eyeing the World Cup 2011, we are planning to launch another 10 games, each with a typical investment of around Rs 6 lakh,” he adds.