Gaming unit sees future in new platforms

Plexing muscles | Indiagames batters up | Executive suite

UTV is aggressively expanding its gaming division through its subsidiaries Indiagames, True Games and Ignition. Together, the division has development and publishing facilities in the United States, U.K., India and Japan.

UTV ventured into the videogame business through the acquisition of U.K.-based Ignition Entertainment in 2007. Ignition develops, publishes and distributes console games across multiple platforms like Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox and the Nintendo range of consoles.

That same year, UTV acquired a majority stake in Indiagames, which has links with all the major players in the gaming world including EA, Disney, THQ, Atari, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Sony, MTV and 2K.

The company’s strategy in India is to focus on India’s mobile gaming space, since there are more than 500 million mobile users in the country.

“Going forward, smart phones are fast becoming popular platforms for games and we are focusing on developing high-quality games for iPhone, Android and Nokia Ovi,” says Indiagames founder and CEO Vishal Gondal.

Indiagames’ mobile offerings include “Bioshock,” “Bruce Lee,” “Scorpion King” and “Cricket 20-20.” Indiagames also develops games based on Bollywood films, such as popular titles “Ghajini,” “Dev.D,” “Goal” and “Jodhaa Akbar.” Its cricket-based games have hit 10 million downloads, not a surprise for a cricket-mad country.

Indiagames, which is also the official partner of the World Cyber Games in India, is present in the PC games space, running a subscription-based, games-on-demand service for all major broadband operators in India. However, computer penetration in India is only about 40 million, including corporate PCs, with low bandwidths, for a population of more than 1 billion, compared to over 130 million television households. Therefore, this year the company bowed iGames, an interactive gaming service, on Indian conglom Reliance’s direct-to-home platform.

“The take-up has really been positive,” says Gondal. “What’s interesting is that a lot of people have been introduced to the concept of gaming on television. Considering the penetration of television is on a high, people are moving away from traditional television viewing and consuming gaming in a big way.”

Indiagames is using an existing partnership with U.S. gaming company Oberon Media to bring their games “Galapago,” “Solitaire,” “Moodies,” “Space Moodies,” “Air Hockey” and “Darts” to Indian TV screens.

In 2008, UTV acquired a controlling interest in California-based multiplayer online games company True Games Interactive, whose hit titles include “Warrior Epic,” an online role-playing game set in a fantasy universe, and “Mytheon,” a game based in mythical ancient Greece.

“The gaming industry in India is definitely evolving as we speak,” says Gondal. “Five years down the line, I see the mobile gaming market with the biggest share, dominating the gaming market, followed by television where people are exploring their DTH platforms for gaming and then online gaming.”

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