從媒介和開發者角度看待印度手遊市場的發展

從媒介和開發者角度看待印度手遊市場的發展

原作者:Matt Suckley 譯者:Willow Wu

“印度手遊市場收益將會在2020前達到11億美元。”

這是去年在Nasscom Game Developer Conference上的最引人矚目的行業報告,還得感謝app數據分析公司App Annie的鼎力相助。

相比其它大會,NGDC 2017的確是缺乏能夠吸引媒體的熱點話題。但是通過親身參與大會,你能感受到印度遊戲行業正處於健康、穩步的發展狀態。

出席人數是體現行業發展現狀的指標之一,這次大會吸引了近3000人蔘加(2016年的參與人數是1800人)。

Unite India大會也是在同一地點同一時期舉行,如果你兩個活動都想參加,可以購買聯合票。毫無疑問,這也是人數增加的原因。

雖說最初宣佈聯合舉辦的時候遭到了質疑——人們擔心Unity這個大公司會在背後干涉,對勢頭正好的遊戲行業產生不好的影響,但事實並非如此。

“我們很瞭解Unity那邊的人,”Nasscom遊戲論壇主席Rajesh Rao說,“他們想舉辦Unite India,那我就說來吧,我們一起辦。這不需要再考慮什麼。”

連接

Rao估算了一下,全印度大概有70%的開發者用的就是Unity引擎。

Unity也證實了Rao在開幕式上提到的一項數據:印度是全球下載Unity遊戲第三多的國家,2017年一月的時候還排在第九。

是什麼原因促使了這種增長?Rao的回答很簡單:“4G變得越來越便宜了。”

網絡連接通常被視爲印度手遊發展的主要壁壘,當地運營商Reliance Jio也一直致力於4G推廣,而且資費並不高。

india mobile games market(from gamesindustry.biz)

india mobile games market(from gamesindustry.biz)

“大家都在準備打網絡戰,”Rao補充道,“在Jio成立之前,我在AirTel和Vodafone工作。他們之前的4G網絡沒有現在這麼快、穩定。這種劇烈轉變就像是突然打開了水龍頭。”

不僅如此,費用上也有很大變化。以前一個月2、3G就收費500-700盧比,這不是什麼罕見的事。現在一個月300盧比,你每天都有到1、2G的流量。

Rao說這對於“精打細算”(說白了就是摳門)的印度公共機構來說真的是一個很大的轉變。“在以前他們無法接受這種改革,現在他們連考慮都不用,說改就改,”他興奮地說。

你可以通過數據看出來——印度已經超越中國成爲了世界第一的移動流量消費大國。

斷開

Zynga遊戲部門的前高級副總裁Mark Skaggs現在跳槽到印度班加羅爾的Moonfrog Labs工作,他認爲還有些問題尚待解決。

他說印度這個國家更像是一個洲——不同地區的語言不同、文化不同、宗教信仰不同、政治傾向不同,還有科技的發展程度也不同,所以如果你只拿一把刷子去把整個印度都畫成一個顏色,這是行不通的。

簡單來說,4G還沒有在全印度普及。就算普及了,那也只算走了半程。

關於覆蓋率問題,Skaggs說:“你所在的地區有4G,流量資費也不高,但如果你連網都連不上,誰還在乎前面那些東西呢?”

除此之外,設備條件限制在印度也是個常見的問題,這就意味着遊戲體積不能做太大。

Moonfrog的首款熱門手遊Teen Patti Gold只有7M,然而近期發行的Baahubali:The Game達到了20M。

“從調查數據來看,我們以後可能還會再做大一點,到30M左右,”Skaggs說,“這對我們來說是容易了一點點。但絕對不能到100M。”

有這種想法的不只是Moonfrog,孟買遊戲工作室Photon Tadpole的節奏平臺遊戲Bollywood Fighter在大會上獲得了“最值得期待遊戲(Upcoming Game of the Year Awards)”提名,他們的遊戲體積目標是10M以下。

本土啓發

PocketGamer.biz代表也參與了該獎項的評選,從2015年到現在,參賽作品質量有了顯著提升。

獨立遊戲變得越來越成熟,而且內容越來越豐富,以前這一獎項提名的大部分都是手遊,現在變成了PC遊戲。

團隊規模小並不意味着你就做不出好遊戲,就比如班加羅爾的遊戲工作室Nukebox,他們的的CEO Amit Hardi就是第一個證明這句話的印度人,由Nukebox開發的手遊《餐車廚師:烹飪遊戲》(Food Truck Chef)獲得了前所未有的成功。NGDC 2017也很樂意爲這些小團隊所取得的成績喝彩。對Rajesh Rao來說,這是具有里程碑意義的一刻。

“從西邊來了個開發者,由他主導的項目成果非常好”Rao說,“人們可能會想‘他之前呆的地方有一個十分成熟遊戲市場,我們可沒有那麼好的條件’然後就放棄走人,但是你不能逃避這種現狀。”

相信過程

不可否認,《餐車廚師:烹飪遊戲》的表現非常喜人:100天內達到470萬次下載,收益超過130萬美元,在32個不同的國家成爲盈利最多的100個遊戲之一。

Hardi的33人團隊都是普通人,他相信的就是精準的玩家數據分析。

“每個人都可以創作出好遊戲,這是他們必須相信的,”Hardi解釋道,“並不是一定要有某種經驗或者是背景才能做到。

“觀察人們是否能從錯誤中學習是一件很有意思的的事,這種學習能力能推進整個印度的遊戲生態發展。”

Rajesh Rao提到有些開發者不太認同Hardi這種專注於數據的做法,但他本人完全不這麼想。

“有一部分開發者把遊戲開發看作是一份藝術性的工作,是一個發揮創意的地方,”Rao告訴PocketGamer.biz,“他們覺得數據會剝奪遊戲開發的樂趣。但這是現實。

“聰明的人不僅不會在藝術上妥協,還能數據當成工具。有很多人根本就不看數據,他們也沒有把反饋資料好好利用起來。

“數據是非常有用的,如果你把那些助攻的重要元素屏蔽掉,那就是愚蠢了。”

Nukebox的成功來源於他們嚴謹的工作方式,他們對遊戲的各個部分進行了A/B測試,細心打磨,面對宏觀問題他們能夠用數據解答。而Rao還知道另外一個成功案例。

與Nukebox不同,位於孟買的Gametion只有18人,他們的PvP棋牌手遊Ludo King一躍成爲大熱門遊戲,讓他們傻了眼。Ludo King的表現的確十分驚人,日活躍用戶1000萬,每日新增下載有100萬次。

Nukebox和Gametion的開發策略不同,目標市場不同,可以說這是兩種不同類型的成功,但Rao認爲兩邊都能學到重要的經驗。

“他們的遊戲是填補市場空白的典型例子,”他說,“他們都對成功感到驚喜,這其中的原因就是他們用了好產品填補市場中的空隙。

“Amit制定的方針非常重要,他引導我們制定計劃、優化我們的思維方式。你可以選擇一個已經達到飽和狀態的遊戲類型或者是題材,做出一個好產品,但那會非常難。”

他拿Timuz的Train Simulator 2016舉例,它是去年大會上的聚焦點之一,這遊戲的成功在很大程度上是也是受益於市場空隙。

Timuz和獨立出來開發公司BigCode仍然在往這一方向發展,從Rao的數據可以看出兩家公司的月留存率都非常高。

印度還在往前走

現在Rao和Nasscom的最希望的就是印度的開發者們能夠借鑑這些成功經歷,把本國作爲目標市場,印度的移動通信設施不再那麼落後了,可以幫助遊戲公司走得更好。

至少我們能看見印度在發生轉變,Mark Skaggs說:“去年大概有一半的人把目標放在美國市場,而今年,我還沒聽說有誰打算這麼做。大家都在學習,市場正在變化,遊戲行業的人大多討論的是印度。”

Skaggs還把當下的印度手遊市場和七年前的中國手遊市場做了對比,後者已經迎來了它的轉折點,在如今成爲了消費規模最大、收益最多的行業之一。

“我們距離那個轉折點大概還有18-24個月,”他評估說。

所以NGDC 2017不像是前面幾屆重點關注的是大項目數量。項目多固然是好,但是過於關注數量很難激發出創作者的熱情。

印度遊戲行業正在悄無聲息地發展,成功的本土遊戲產品就在你的手機中,我相信這肯定比直白、毫無生氣的洗腦式宣傳冊更能激勵開發者。

這條路漫長而曲折,但是選擇走上這條路的人們從沒比現在更加堅信它通往的是成功的大門。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

“Indian mobile gaming revenues will reach $1.1 billion by 2020.”

This was the biggest statement to emerge from last year’s Nasscom Game Developer Conference, courtesy of a report published in partnership with app intelligence firm App Annie.

NGDC 2017, by contrast, lacked such a headline-grabbing projection. But from attending the conference, the healthy signs were clear to see.

Turnout at events can be a decent barometer of an industry’s health, and this year’s conference welcomed nearly 3,000 people. For context, the 2016 conference held the previous record at 1,800 attendees.

The inaugural Unite India, held simultaneously in the same Hyderabad venue and accessible through a joint ticket, no doubt contributed to this boost in numbers.

And while the initial announcement brought doubts that the bigger company was unfairly muscling in on a burgeoning space, this does not appear to have been the case.

“That came about because we know the people there very well,” says Rajesh Rao, Chairman of the Nasscom Gaming Forum. “They wanted to do a Unite India, and I said look, let’s do it together. It’s a no-brainer.”

Connected

Indeed, he estimates that around 70% of the country’s developers are currently using the engine.

Unity also provided one of the most intriguing statistics in Rao’s opening address: that India is now third for worldwide Unity game downloads, up from ninth in January.

So what’s caused this dramatic increase? Rao’s answer is simple: “4G becoming super cheap.”

Connectivity has often been referred to as a major barrier to mobile game success in India, but local network Reliance Jio has spearheaded 4G usage with affordable offerings.

“All the others are gearing up for the fight,” adds Rao. “I’ve been on AirTel and Vodafone since before Jio came. Their networks were not as robust and high-speed on 4G before. It’s almost like they turned the tap on.”

The difference in cost is a significant one. It was not uncommon for pre-Jio plans to offer around two to three GB per month at a cost of 500-700 Rupees. A monthly subscription of 300 Rs. can now get you one to two GB per day.

Rao says it’s been a big deal for a “very value-conscious” Indian public. “What they wouldn’t do before, they’re doing now without thinking,” he enthuses.

This is borne out by the data, with India surpassing China to top the worldwide ranks for mobile data consumption.

Disconnected

But for Mark Skaggs, ex-SVP of Games at Zynga and now Director at Bangalore-based studio Moonfrog Labs, there’s still work to be done.

He points out that India is a country that’s more like a continent – with “language differences, culture differences, religious differences, political differences, and then also technology differences” – which makes it “very dangerous to paint with a single brush.”

Simply put, the 4G revolution is not yet country-wide. And even if it were, that’s only half the story.

Skaggs points to coverage issues: “There might be 4G, there might be cheap data, but if you can’t get a connection: who cares?”

For Moonfrog, this – coupled with the limitations of devices still common in India – means that file size remains a consideration.

The firm’s hit game Teen Patti Gold weighs in at seven MB, while its latest title Baahubali: The Game was crammed into 20MB.

“Now, doing a little analysis, we probably would have been alright to go up to 30MB or so,” considers Skaggs. “So it’s easing up a bit. But not 100MB.”

And it’s not just Moonfrog. At the event’s Upcoming Game of the Year Awards, Mumbai studio Photon Tadpole received an honourable mention for its rhythm-based platformer Bollywood Fighter, which is aiming for a sub-10MB file size.

Local inspiration

PocketGamer.biz was represented on the judging panel for that award for the third year running, and the increase in quality from 2015 to now has been a marked one.

A maturing and more diverse indie development scene was also evident, with both the winner and runner-up of the previously mobile-dominated category being PC games.

But small teams have also been making waves with mobile games in the past year, and Nasscom Game Developer Conference 2017 was keen to celebrate these.

Bangalore studio Nukebox developed the breakout hit Food Truck Chef, and the firm’s CEO Amit Hardi became the first Indian to deliver the keynote. This, for Rajesh Rao, was a landmark moment.

“You have a Western dev who comes to give a keynote and is super successful,” says Rao. “Your community could always go away from that saying, ‘well, he’s coming from a mature market, they have a lot of things we don’t have.’ But you can’t run away from this.”

Trust the process

And it’s undeniable that the numbers are impressive for Nukebox’s Food Truck Chef: 4.7 million downloads in 100 days, more than $1.3 million in revenue, and a top 100 grossing position in 32 different countries.

Hardi insisted in his keynote that his 33-person team contained “no celebrities,” but had simply put its trust in a rigorous process of player data analysis.

“They need to believe that anybody can create great games,” Hardi explains. “It’s not that you need a certain kind of experience or background to do that.

“It’ll be very interesting to see if people are able to learn from mistakes we made, and if they are able to create such stories it will be a big boost to the entire Indian ecosystem.”

Rajesh Rao noted that some developers in attendance were uncomfortable with the focus on data in Hardi’s keynote, which is precisely what he’d hoped.

“There is a section of devs who see game development as a very creative, artistic endeavour,” Rao tells PocketGamer.biz. “They see data as taking the joy out of it. But that is reality.

“The smart ones don’t compromise on their artistic endeavour, but they use data. We’ve had a lot of people who didn’t look at data at all, they didn’t even have the basic feedback loops in place.

“Closing the door on obvious things that will help you succeed is foolish – and data is one of those.”

Fill the gap

But while Nukebox’s success came from an ongoing refinement of its funnel, A/B testing a number of aspects and generally using data to answer the big questions, Rao reserves special mention for another, rather different Indian success story.

Smaller than Nukebox at 18 employees, Mumbai studio Gametion has been blindsided by the success of its PvP mobile board game Ludo King. Among the game’s more jaw-dropping stats are a whopping 10 million daily active users, and one million new installs daily.

How Gametion and Nukebox found their success was vastly different, both in terms of development philosophy and target market, but Rao reckons there’s a major lesson to be learned from both.

“Both those games are good examples of filling a gap,” he states. “They are surprised about the success – happy, but also surprised themselves – and the underlying reason for it is that they hit the gap with a good product.

“Getting Amit to do the keynote was very important, to tell people how planning and thinking through things is so important. You could have a very good game in a super saturated genre or style, and it’s going to be very difficult.”

He refers back to Timuz’s Train Simulator 2016, an Indian success story highlighted by last year’s conference, which he says also benefited considerably from finding its own niche.

It’s a philosophy that’s since continued at both Timuz and its spun-out developer BigCode, and Rao reports that both are enjoying “some incredible day 30 retention numbers” as a result.

India marches on

The big hope for Rao and Nasscom is that India’s developers will be able to build upon these positive stories and that, should they choose to target their home territory, the Indian mobile infrastructure is now at a point where it can accommodate successes.

Anecdotally at least, Mark Skaggs sees a shift occurring: “Last year, it was 50/50,” he says. “This year, I haven’t heard anybody talk about being successful in the US. Everybody’s learning, the market’s changing, and a lot of us are talking about India.”

Skaggs also draws parallels between India’s current mobile market and that of China seven years ago, which eventually hit an inflection point and became a market of widespread spending and huge revenues.

“We’re 18-24 months away from that,” he asserts.

So Nasscom Game Developer Conference 2017, unlike the previous year’s event, was not defined by big projected numbers – which are all very well, but ultimately impersonal and rarely evoke real passion.

Instead, there was the quiet assurance of an industry growing in confidence, live evidence of Indian successes on stage or on the show floor rather than being promised in a pamphlet.

The road remains long and winding, but those who have chosen to walk it seem more convinced than ever that it will be worthwhile. And in the absence of anything truly dramatic, there are positive signs all around.(source:pocketgamer.biz