With mobile gaming gaining strong traction in the country, Reliance Entertainment has brought its focus back on the Indian market and is looking to invest in 20 gaming startups this year.
Reliance Games, a part of Reliance Entertainment, has also announced investments worth over $50,000 (roughly Rs. 33 lakhs) in marketing and technology to support some Indian startups as part of its ‘PG Connects’ event.
Reliance Entertainment is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.
“The next 18-24 months present a massive opportunity as India is set to become the second biggest smartphone market in the world. The market is at a inflection point and it is a green-field opportunity for game developers as domestic mobile game market grows significantly,” Reliance Entertainment Digital CEO Amit Khanduja told PTI.
A few years ago, there were about 40 gaming startups and now there are more than 250 startups, he added.
“So, although India is still an emerging game development hub – the talent and startup ecosystem is growing exponentially and in the next 3-4 years, we are hoping to see the industry grow to accommodate up to 50,000 professionals working in this space,” he said.
Khanduja added that while the company has not defined an investment fund, it plans to “publish with 20 Indie startups this year”.
“We are more keen on strategic partnerships with startups than a particular quantum of financial investment where we can help the partner take their game to the next level for a launch. These partnerships include significant dollar investments in technology, marketing, analytics and people resources from Reliance Games,” he said.
According to a FICCI-KPMG report, Indian gaming industry has grown from Rs. 1,000 crores in 2010 to Rs. 2,650 crores in 2015. This is projected to grow to Rs. 3,080 crores by 2016-end and further to Rs. 5,070 crores by the end of December 2020.
The company Tuesday announced the partnership with Indian Premier League’s cricket team, Gujarat Lions, and has become the official gaming partner of the Rajkot-based team.
The games will allow players to customise their team, engage with their favourite T20 stars – Suresh Raina, Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch and other cricketers in the Gujarat team by playing with their favorite superstars in the game.
Khanduja said the Indian market is “ripe for investments but it needs more than financial investments”.
“Currently, indie-developers need significant hand holding in design, monetisation, marketing and technology, we see strategic tie ups as the road to success than pure-play fund investments,” he added.
The activity will see a big pick up, once these talented startups grow in terms of player engagement and monetisation, he added.
Also, adoption of gaming beyond the metros and large cities into tier-II and III towns would provide a major boost.
“With the smartphone growth and 4G adoption, mobile game market is experiencing a hockey stick growth as games can offer targeted advertising and sponsorships, in-app purchases via subscription and app store spends for millions of players here,” he said.
Khanduja added that value for money gaming will thrive in India and branded advertisement and non-intrusive rewarded videos integrated into design of the game is the ideal approach for engaging gamers.
Reliance Games works with Hollywood Studios like Dreamworks, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros.
With over 200 million downloads globally, Reliance Games operates across five countries worldwide.