Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The success of the Indian Gaming Industry

I write this on a lazy Sunday morning while I’m cooking lunch for my wife. Yeah – it’s a man’s world they said. I have a rum and coke in one hand and I’m listening to Big Bad Bill by Van Halen while David Lee Roth was still singing for them. I’m also trying to figure out why onions and tomatoes don’t get along when they are thrown in the cooker at the same time. How times have changed!

This morning I started up my 360 and did my dutiful checking online to see what’s new. I see Frogger has just been re-released as an arcade game on XBOX Live Arcade. It’s now available at 720p and is displayed in a whopping 16:9 wide screen ratio. I found myself playing a game that I played more than 20 years ago. How times have changed!

I also have the IGDA Indian chapter open in a browser and I’m reading what seems to be such an eclectic mix of views. You see developers getting utopian in their exchanges with how graphics should actually work. You see game designers talking about inspiration for their work. You see project managers and producers trying to convince the world that they actually mean well. You see the budding student that wants to become an ace programmer by just asking questions or talking l33t. You see recruiters putting up posts for employment underestimating how savvy or educated today’s employee is. What an amazing mix. What’s so outstanding about this is the fact that there is a certain amount of order within the chaos that sometimes ensues. In my opinion, it’s called discovery.

How long does it take to learn math? How long does it take to learn how to cycle? How long did it take you to figure out that you cannot walk on the sand in Half Life 2? Discovery – It’s a wonderful experience. More so, when the results are so extremely rewarding.

Let me explain:

Fact: India Games released Yoddha in 2002. Was it good? Maybe not - but the discovery there was how to finish developing a game. Granted, it was a rather short game, but it still had a beginning and an end which indicates that it did get completed. India Games has now gone onto being the most successful game development companies within India with an almost global presence in Mobile game development; a true testament to their pioneering efforts.

Fact: Game Masti released Chakravyuh in 2002. Was it good? That's not important - but it was officially India's first full feature game spanning ten whole levels. That alone was almost biblical in impact. Thinking about a game is tough, making a demo is tougher, and finishing a game is nothing short of Olympian in nature. I know, I finished making a version of Pong and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. This effort had just signalled the arrival of full fledged game development in India. Before this, people were just testing the waters.

Fact: Lumenphon released Bhagat Singh. Was it good? Maybe not – but it was the second game released in India. I remember how excited I was at the fact that India had now developed two games. They may not have been the most polished or the most advanced, but they were two whole games nonetheless.

Fact: Dhruva Interactive won a deal to create art assets for Mission Impossible. Was the game good? Maybe not – but it established and confirmed the bandwidth that led up to the biggest game development outsourcing company in India who ever since has worked on Mission: Impossible 2, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Geoff Grammond’s Grand Prix 4, and the critically acclaimed TOCA Pro Race Driver series. Not too mention they worked on the incredible Forza Motorsport.

Fact: Kawabonka creates an online gaming community site that allows PvP multiplayer gaming leveraging the advent of high speed internet connectivity and it blows up into being the most successful online gaming community in India.

Fact: Milestone Interactive gets approved to by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe to develop a PS2 game. Was it a major accomplishment? No – but the amount of people that the effort had touched was huge. That single handedly was worth it – and that’s discovery, right there.

Fact: Paradox squeezes the A5 Conitec Engine to the max and releases BattleDust. Was it good? – Maybe not the greatest, but it was a beat ‘em up, it was similar yet different in nature and it was complete. Once again, hats off to the team at Paradox for going completely above and beyond.

Let’s not forget Lakshaya Digital and their patented GPO (Games Process Outsourcing) strategy, Raptor Entertainment’s proprietary RTS engine, Gameloft opening up shop in Hyderabad, ATI, Microsoft and now the cerebral explosion of casual game development in India.

How things have changed; and all this in just about five years!

I don’t know about you but I think that’s a pretty impressive portfolio for a country that had its highest selling game sell a measly 25,000 + copies. Even more impressive, considering how attractive the “brain drain” methodology has been for talented employees who might have left the country in search of more established and educated lands.

What am I trying to say here? Things change. People change. Countries change and heck, I’ve seen Doordarshan change. While we have certain folks on one hand pretty much dictating how the Indian game development will never improve, I see an extremely bright future for all of us. I see a visible, clear learning curve; I see maturity evolving; I see another five years for us to learn and discover how we can effectively contribute to an industry that we feel so passionately about. After all – Discovery leads to innovation. Innovation leads to leadership. Leadership leads to success.

I applaud everyone that has contributed so far in their own little way as it has unknowingly created a seemingly self aware and sentient industry. Thanks to their efforts, India has reached a position where it can now begin to turn discovery into invention.

Until next time…


  1. DO you know when I first looked at your title I thought you were some mad hunter that was going to freak my freak. Instead you talk about gaming and inventions and still freak my freak for when I was a little one, and it was certainly NOT that long ago, I played kick the can and the rest you speak about was just a dream or possibly not even in the head of Bill Gates and others...

    Keep blogging, it cleanses my soul and keeps me grounded.


  2. Wonder why my father used to say
    "Son; First - Experience cannot be bought and Second Experience makes you smarter than ever before ;)"

    Good one Vinay

  3. Sumit - Thanks. Try and get some of your colleagues to read this.

    Eric - Thanks - I think. :)

  4. A small observation about the 25,000 copies figure. This is actually not an actual indicator of market size - the ratio of pirated games to originals bought must be quite high in India - maybe even 10:1 at a conservative estimate?

    Doing the Math, this means that about 2.5 million copies owned - a much better looking firgure. If we can find a way to get more of them to buy - smart pricing, better marketing - possibilities there.

  5. Nice post :)


  6. nice post but just to get your facts right :-

    * Yoddha was the first 3d game ever released in India by Indiagames...but it was only of one level and played thru in 5 mins...

    * Chakravyuh was released by very soon after that
    Had these developers not bust their ass to make a 10 level game,then Chakravyuh would have been the first 3d game released in India.

  7. You're right. I got confused between Yodha and Chakravyuh.

    Thanks for catching that.

    AXE 316

  8. Interesting blog you have here.. Kind sirs, please update!

  9. nice post. i have got only one thing to say, indian game development scene is looking very good now especially since all the major players have also entered india and also indian game companies have benn doing good and voraciously developing content, be it any platform.

  10. hi everyone .. it was just coincidence that i and my brother started making chakrayuh as a non - commercial project at our home when we had an idea why not complete the game and sell it.. that's when through the wednesday computer journal of times we got in touch with gamemasti and it Mr Sanjay Wadhwa was immediately agreed to the idea. Yoddha and Chakrayuh released at a gap of 3 months i guess though we never knew about Yoddha till we saw their trailer ...

  11. What a fantastic post. Thanks for the info. With all this activity happening though, I still do not see massive cultish communities online for gaming discussions. What do you guys think is the reason for this? Bad computers? Poor Internet access? Not much of an online culture? I presume for XBOX or PSP to even have a presence in India would mean that the audience at least had those basics covered? China faces the same issues but the penetration of iCafes and such is phenomenal (over 120,000 at last count, and only growing).

  12. As I already said in the IGDA forum, "this is a must-read for any indian game developers". It's simply "inspiring". :)

    ----- Satan.

  13. I would like to speak with you about your knowledge of Bhagat Singh and Yoddha for my site

  14. hey big brother please link exchange with me . i m aryan from new delhi india.
    please link exchange with me .

    my site is based on games and i provide free games to my readers when they demand.

  15. Thank you Vinay for a very interesting post.

    Please keep em coming.



  16. Hmm very nice post ....

    I think Indians are gearing up to deliver best games development services

    Take a glimpse at our award winning web design :

  17. I didnt see any success story in this post :(, you must rename this post to "The learning of the Indian Gaming Industry"

    And you blog a lot bro, I wonder when do get time to work.