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Game for taking on thousands at the same time?

Gaming portals Kreeda, Zapak & Vibrant betting big on multiplayer online gaming

, ET Bureau|
Oct 02, 2008, 03.18 AM IST
PUNE: The online gaming industry in India is booming. And the top three portals, Kreeda, Zapak and Vibrant, have already entered the next level of the game: massively multiplayer online games, or MMOGs.

As the name suggests, an MMOG is an online video game that can support thousands of players simultaneously. So, when you play an MMOG you are taking on not one opponent but hundreds of them.

To attract Indians in huge numbers to this fastest growing segment of gaming market, the three companies have worked out aggressive expansion plans with new releases lined up, are all banking on the network of Internet caf��s.

Interestingly, they have firmed up identical marketing plans, while remaining unaware of each other���s strategy.

Compared to multiplayer online games, which are popular in India, MMOGs have superior graphics, usually 3D, and also allow players to interact with other players, sometimes with real world simulation.

The Mumbai-based Kreeda Games has tied-up with 10-15 caf��s in each of the 10 cities it is present in. Now, it is targeting close to 300 caf��s in each city, starting from Pune. Its plan is to install its game in the Net caf��s, help the owners redo the interiors while the Net caf�� will get its revenues from the sale of Kreeda���s pre-paid cards and game merchandise.

Reliance ADAG���s Zapak Games too has tied up with 5,000 internet caf��s across the country and is in the process of activating more.

Bangalore-based Vibrant Communications plans to tap young gamers via net caf��s and youth-specific portals. The IDG Ventures and SoftBank Bodhi Investment-funded Kreeda released its first MMOG, DanceMela, early in the year. It has tied up with Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan for the dance game, based on Bollywood songs and started its marketing initiatives from Pune last week.

Its CEO Quentin Staes-Polet said, ���MMO gaming is just catching on in India. Globally, it is the fastest growing gaming segment, at 30%. LAN-based gaming is very popular in most net caf��s in India.���

He expects the dance mats of DanceMela to draw players into the game. ���While we sell smaller dance mats for home players, we will install bigger mats in (net) caf��s. The mats have arrow keys similar to those on the computer keyboard and the game will tell which key has to be pressed. The game is also good for physical fitness, as the player has to press the keys with his legs. We have licensed Bollywood tracks from music companies and we add two songs a week to the game. Our average player plays 90 minutes a day in the game, which is more than the time he spends watching TV. More youth are moving to interactive media rather than TV and that���s what we are banking on,��� Mr Staes-Polet said.

Zapak recently completed the beta testing of its MMOG, Crazy Cart, based on racing, slated for release next month.

Zapak has licensed the game from China-based Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd. Said its COO, Rohit Sharma, ���We have registered over 5 million players for our casual games portal and this is the right time for MMOGs. The market for MMOG in India is nascent, with a lack of infrastructure like Internet bandwidth and PC penetration.���

He added, ���For the first two years, MMOG revenues in India will only be generated through Internet caf��s so we will continue to tie-up with caf��s. Additionally, we will also deploy the game through our own Gameplexes and our group company���s Webworlds,��� he said. Zapak is planning to launch around five more MMOGs based on cricket, shooting and fantasy.

David Arnold, president and CEO, Vibrant Communication, which launched its first MMOG in India recently, commented, ���India is a significant market opportunity for gaming, especially MMOG. We introduced our first game, Supreme Destiny two months ago. We will promote the game through other gaming websites and youth-specific portals. We are also targetting Internet caf��s and we expect to be present in 200 cities by the end of this year.���

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