Actor-producer Shah Rukh Khan’s latest offering, Ra.One, has roped in UTV Indiagames to design a social game based on the film. A first in India, the social game would be based on the character G.One and would have its own identity.
The game is part of Red Chillies’ efforts to woo users in the digital space. The company is investing around $3-4 million (Rs 13-18 crore) for the film's online promotion. “This is different from what we have done so far in Bollywood. Games have been used as part of the marketing strategy. But these (social games) are just one-off games. In the case of Ra.One, we work with the character and create stories around it,” says UTV Indiagames chief executive Vishal Gondal.
Social games are played as a way of social interaction. Successful social games include Farmville, Cityville and Mafia War. Globally, social gaming is a $1-billion market. According to the Ficci-KPMG Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2011, India accounts for an estimated 8-10 million social media gamers. Zynga, one of the most successful social game developers, has close to 270 million active monthly users, with almost five per cent of this base paying to play an advance version of the game.
Indiagames has already invested around Rs 4.5 crore in developing the game. The social games would be based on a freemium model, which means while the primary game would be free, users would have to pay for advanced features and accessories. Each of these microtransactions would range between Rs 5 and Rs 100. The social games targeted at the mass market would be launched across platforms like mobiles, tablet PCs, the direct-to-home platform and social networking sites like Facebook.
“The games would also be targeted at gamers across countries. People who know about Shah Rukh Khan and Ra.One would probably come and play, but the idea is to take it to gamers who like to play superhero games,” says Gondal.
According to Red Chillies Entertainment digital and new media head Shailja Gupta, the idea behind the digital marketing is to create a franchisee for Ra.One. “Social gaming is just one part of the digit marketing strategy. The unique part of the social game is the integration of merchandise and gaming. Never before has anyone tried this model in India,” she says.
UTV Indiagames would also develop digital comics based on the Ra.One character. The comic available for the mobile platform would have weekly episodes. Gupta explains G.One is first of-its-kind Indian superhero brand with full-fledged merchandising and licensing plans. “In a novel approach, G.One transforms the character of a silver screen superhero into a multifaceted franchise, from graphic novels to social games and action figures. The G.One brand and the franchise has been conceptualised keeping in mind two identities—G.One and Little G.One—who live in parallel universes. We bring to you action figures, toys, graphic novels, home furnishing, fashion accessories, back-to-school, mobile, social and console games, graphic card, mobiles and much more,” she adds.
As part of the digital strategy, Red Chillies, along with UTV Indiagames, would also launch digital comics for the mobile platform. The comics would have weekly episodes for users. Gupta adds the company plans to build on the superhero concept, rather than just Shah Rukh Khan. “We want to create an experience for the user around Ra.One, and we would want to exploit the digital medium for this experience,” said Gupta. In case of the Ra.One social game, the business model would be similar to what is being used online, except the merchandising aspect would be much more integrated. The merchandise to be sold in the market would have a coupon with a unique code. This would allow the user to get information on the game and also initiate them into it. It would also have a reward system, through which a gamer can buy virtual merchandise and goods.
Console game manufacturer and developer Sony Playstation will develop the game for its various consoles. Ra.One-The Game, would be available for all PSP models. Sony PS has developed a full-cycle console game, which offers more than 20 game environments. The total cost of developing and promoting the game is over $1 million.