本文原作者：Matthew Handrahan 譯者：ciel chen
Nazara Technologies公司打賭5年能看到一個成熟的印度遊戲市場。Moonfrog Labs則認爲是10年。
對於Nasscom Gaming Forum的董事長兼Dhruva Interactive的創始人（於去年被Starbreeze收購）——Rajesh Rao來說，至少有機會看到了印度遊戲行業發展的基石。根據被特別委託的App Annie報道（於去年在Nasscom GDC正式公佈），印度首次成爲iOS和Google Play2016年第二季度遊戲下載量前五名之一的國家，在一年的時間越升了兩名僅次於俄國、巴西、中國和美國之後位居第四。
App Annie的數據，其持續增長的數字表明印度人會繼續玩下去。十六億的積累下載量預計在2020年會達到53億；在同樣地時間表裏，Statista預測印度的手機用戶數量將會從2.92億增加到4.44億。這是個龐大的數字，也意味着一個龐大而有價值的市場，但是這也是造成印度潛在能力與現實表現之間一道鴻溝越發明顯的要點所在。同一季度，印度在iOS加安卓平臺遊戲下載量排世界第五名，App Annie的數據表示總收入只有1600萬美元。兩年前，在2014年第四季度裏，印度遊戲總收入爲900萬美元。
根據App Annie所示，在收入增長方面印度遊戲正處在快速改變的風頭浪尖。87%的CAGR會推動印度手遊市場，使其年收入在2020年達到11億；市場價值大幅進步的今天，這樣的數字會抓住很多國際公司的眼球。當我對Rao提到App Annie這個項目的時候，他的回答相當慎重。
爲了實現這個改變，出現了各種“賦能品”被研發應用來縮短這個轉變的過渡期：有Google和Facebook都積極推行的——更高速、更實惠、無處不在的無線網絡，有移動錢包、運營商扣賬的付費方式、以及更多的支付選擇；還有,自從Google Play（目前最流行的電子商城）把最低消費從50盧比降低到了10盧比，移動App store消費門檻也降低了。
然而，Rao快速地指出對印度遊戲業來說是沒有“速效劑”的。他更願意看到App store的最低消費再下降更多。比如說從5盧比降到2盧比，這會讓支付變得更加可行來吸引成百上千萬的人們來消費。Rao還說這個問題不僅僅跟印度的基礎建設有關，更多還得追溯到印度歷史的“文化”方面。 “運營商扣賬的付費方式不是一個特效藥，”他提到App Annie報告中提到的“賦能品”之一。 “它一定會有所成效的，但並非是唯一能支撐住我們的。”
“India is now a top five country, and we’ll probably climb further”
Indian people are playing, says Dhruva’s Rajesh Rao, but the road to payment might be long, and unforgiving for the country’s indie developers
European Deputy Editor
Wednesday 8th March 2017
Even the most cursory analysis of the Indian games business reveals the vast gulf between potential and reality.
India’s promise can be encapsulated, swiftly and powerfully, by a single, very large number: 1.25 billion, the country’s population. The problems that stand in the way of even half that number becoming a smartphone owning, in-app purchasing target audience for game developers are complex and interconnected, demanding a variety of solutions that will play out over very different timescales. Nazara Technologies sees a mature Indian games market as a five-year bet. Moonfrog Labs has suggested ten.
For Rajesh Rao, the chair of the Nasscom Gaming Forum and founder of Dhruva Interactive, which was acquired last year by Starbreeze, it is at least possible to see the founding stones on which the Indian games business will be built. According to a specially commissioned App Annie report, officially unveiled at Nasscom GDC last year, India entered the top five countries for combined iOS and Google Play game downloads for the first time in Q2 2016 – jumping two places in the space of a year to nestle behind Russia, Brazil, China and the US.
With 1.6 billion downloads accrued for the whole of 2016, Rao believes that one of the great questions over the potential of the Indian market has been answered.
“The proof is in the downloads growing,” he says when we meet at Nasscom GDC. “1.6 billion downloads has happened. That’s not notional. India is now a top five country, and we’ll probably climb further. Based on what the CAGR is showing, we could go into the top three.
“Whether people are playing is no longer a debate. Now it’s a matter of how many people will pay. That’s the debate.”
App Annie’s data indicates that Indian people will continue to play, and in ever increasing numbers. The 1.6 billion downloads amassed last year is projected to reach 5.3 billion by 2020; in that same timeframe, Statista forecasts that the number of smartphone users in India will rise from 292 million to 444 million. These are huge numbers, suggestive of a huge and valuable market, but this is the point at which the gulf between potential and reality becomes startlingly apparent. In the same quarter that India placed fifth in the world for iOS and Android game downloads, App Annie’s data shows total revenue of just $16 million. Two years before, in Q4 2014, total revenue was $9 million.
According to App Annie, that is on the cusp of rapid change. A CAGR of 87% will push the Indian mobile games market to $1.1 billion in annual revenue by 2020; a vast improvement over the value of the market today, and the kind of figure that would draw the gaze of many international companies. When I mention App Annie’s projection to Rao, though, his response is notably measured.
“When we saw that, our view was… it seemed like a fairly aggressive extrapolation,” Rao says. “Getting people to pay is a change in mindset. It has to come from themselves. You can create things that help to accelerate it, but you cannot force them.”
To that end, there are “enablers” being developed and implemented to hasten that transition: faster, cheaper and more pervasive wireless internet, which both Google and Facebook are actively pushing; mobile wallets, carrier billing, and a broader range of payment options; lower payment thresholds on the mobile app stores, after the minimum price tier on Google Play (by far the most popular store) dropped from Rs. 50 to Rs. 10 (about 15 cents).
However, Rao is quick to point out that there is no “magic bullet” for India. He would like to see a further reduction in the minimum app store price tier, for example; RS. 5 or Rs. 2, which would make payment more feasible and attractive for millions of people. Rao describes the issue of payment in terms of India’s “cultural” past rather than simply about infrastructure.
“Carrier billing is not a magic pill,” he says, referring to one of enablers mentioned in App Annie’s report. “It will definitely show results, but it’s not the only thing holding us back.”
But culture’s change, and Rao believes the maturation of the Indian film market is indicative of what lies ahead for games. The price of a cinema ticket was “between Rs. 5 and Rs. 25 for a very long time,” but an improvements to the product over the last ten years – in the form of modern theatres, and films with better production values – has convinced the growing middle-class that the experience has a higher value. “Now you could have a Friday show for 500 rupees,” Rao says. “And nobody’s blinking.”
The same effect can be seen with television, which at one point was operated by the state. According to Rao, the first private channels were introduced in the early 90s, all of them funded by advertising. Then channels were offered for subscription through cable operators, in bundles or individually. “This channel is Rs. 5 per month, that channel is Rs. 7 per month,” he continues. “Cut to now, 15 or 20 years later, some channels are priced at Rs. 150 per month.
“The point is that, eventually, [Indian people] will pay for game content. But the historical data shows that we love free, and we take a little time.”
If Rao is correct, this poses a significant problem for the country’s community of developers, most of whom are in small teams, with limited access to funding, and far from the radar of international publishers. These factors make the Indian iOS and Android storefronts the most accessible place to do business, but there isn’t much revenue to go around.
For Rao, the lack of experience within the Indian startup scene – unavoidable given the relative age of the country’s games industry – is preventing developers from making choices that the situation demands. Choices made from passion, rather than the reality of building a business and the pragmatic necessity of survival.
“I think there’s a lot of developers who just jump in without thinking,” he says. “The developer community in India, the characteristic that distinguishes it from the community in the West, is that the startups there are more often than not people who have worked in large companies; they’ve put in their years, they have experience. Then, after that, they’re stepping out into startups.”
India’s developer community is young, Rao says, with much lower overheads than in more developed industries around the world. “They can make their runway last for quite a while. But, eventually, if you aren’t making money… The reality is that a lot of these guys are going to do a lot of soul-searching at some point, about how they can really survive.
“This notion of indie, and doing my own game, making the games I like to make – all nonsense, because that doesn’t feed you. A lot of the guys got caught up in that kind of thinking, and it’s all fine and dandy, but where is the money?”
“If you don’t have a successful business model, then at some point you come to the end of your runway.”
Rao offers Timuz as an example of the kind of developer that India needs. Founded in Hyderabad by Ahmed Mohammed, Timuz has grown from 4 people to more than 100 in just six years. It produces games on a very busy release schedule, spanning multiple genres, steadily building a large enough audience to monetise through interstitial advertising. The company’s biggest game to date is Train Simulator 2016, but Timuz is thriving on the strength of a portfolio rather than any one product.
“That guy is killing it,” Rao says. “He’s making a ton of money, from what I know. That means he’s cracked something. He understood that Indians are not paying yet, so he’s building a portfolio…. Good man. More power to you. In doing so, he has a library of content in enough genres and enough styles that he now has data that can help him in his future.
“Smart. That’s a smart indie.”
GamesIndustry.biz is a media partner for Nasscom GDC. Our travel and accommodation costs were provided by the organiser.(source:games industry.biz )