As India’s biggest ever Gaming competition and exhibition comes closer, illgaming speaks to its organizers to know really what they’re upto, what they hope to achieve and what are their expectations. We got to speak to the main guys of WTF Events, the organizer of the IGC. These are the guys calling all the shots, and they’ve given us a nice insight on what it means to be hosting such a huge event. At the WTF office, things are bustling and its haywire! People running around, phones ringing, getting a grip on its organizers wasn’t an easy job but they’ve all agreed to take a little time out for illgaming!
We first spoke to Mr. Ankush Tripathi, VP of Business Development. “We hope to top IPL in 5 years.” says Mr. Ankush. Ambitious, but definitely the way to go! Yes, we love gaming that much!
Sahil Arora: What made you to actually go ahead and organize an event of this scale?
Ankush Tripathi: We want to promote e-gaming and e-sports in India. At present there is no company in India who’s doing much to promote this. We want to promote Indian gamers on an international scale. India has the largest youth population and the major chunk is still to be tapped, and that is where we come in.
SA: How has the response been so far? What are your expectations?
AT: The response has been overwhelming. There is a lot of buzz being generated and people are showing interest. We expect 1,00,000 visitors at the venue, per day.
SA: Thats huge!
AT: Well we’re covering a vast variety of games through all mediums, PC, Consoles, iPhones etc. Our target audience is all age groups and they have responded well.
SA: e-Sports is looked down upon in India. People don’t consider it a serious career choice, like they do in the West. How do you think the IGC can change that?
AT: Before India won the cricket world cup in 1983, cricket wasn’t really considered a serious career option but look at it now, its one of the most, if not the most, lucrative career paths. Cricket players are worshiped here and they make millions! All that was needed was a world cup win to change the mentality. Gaming also needs something like this. I am confident that we can take e-sports to that level as well. It is only a matter of time. It always is. Gaming will be huge in India.
SA: Many global Video Game publishing houses have ditched plans to come to India, mainly because they dont see the monetary benefit. What do have to say about this?
AT: Well, there actually has never been a ‘big money’ gaming event/competition in India. If a teen kid asks his parents for money to buy a PS3, they’ll refuse saying that its a waste of time. At the IGC, we’re offering cash prizes upto Rs. 1.5 crores. If a kid tells his folks that he wants to play to win that prize money, his parents might consider it. This is what we need to induce in the mentality. And this is how we’ll get the common man to spend on gaming, thus looking viable to foreign companies willing to set up base in India.
SA: You plan to host IGC every year. Where do see IGC in 5 years? Whats your vision?
AT: We hope to take on IPL by that time.
SA: That is very ambitious, but cheers on that! You’ve also planned to incorporate Cosplay. Whats that all about?
AT: Well, we Indians love carnivals, or even so, Melas! We love dressing up in vibrant attires and it comes naturally to us. That is why we thought of including Cosplay, a choice for people to dress up like the favorite characters and show off! And don’t expect people to enjoy without music and dance, this is why we are also having a performance at the IGC by Honey Singh! The IGC is not only for geeky gamers! Its a Mela. Its a carnival. There is gonna be music, singing and dancing and that’s what we hope to achieve.
SA: Thats superb! Well all the best! Hope the IGC turns out as massive as you’re hoping for!
Next we speak to the VP of Corporate Affairs, Mr. Kushagra.
SA: So, why host the IGC?
Kushagra: The gaming potential has never really been realized in India. Presently we have outlets like Reliance WebWorld where gamers play against each other on per-hour basis by paying a small amount, and this format is really famous and has got a lot of gamers hooked. At this point, there is actually a huge chunk of the demograph that is addicted to gaming, but dont really have a platform to showcase their talent. Plus there are these small gaming events taking place in local towns throughout India now and then. With the IGC, we plan to capture the essence of gaming nationally, under one single roof! That is our main motive and I feel we are completely relevant with the ages.
SA: Are you personally a gamer? (or maybe, an illgamer?!?!)
K: Yes I am! (he says it enthusiastically) But just a casual one. Not a pro. Gaming is my relaxation therapy when I reach home tired from a hard days work.
SA: What is the future of video-gaming in India?
K: Well, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 made $550 million in just 5 days after its launch. This includes $204 million alone in the US. Highest grossing Bollywood movies cant dream of making that much money in a lifetime! These figures really say something. The youth population of the US is minute when compared to that of India. Imagine if gaming was as popular in India as it is in the US, how much would COD: MW2 gross? Surely some astronomical figure. That’s the scope we’re looking at. Its massive. And most importantly, its untapped.
SA: Well that is something really interesting you have mentioned. Its a shame we still don’t have many international developers/publishers in India. Some of them came here a few years back (not mentioning any names) and left, citing they dont see much of a monetary benefit here. What do you have to say about that?
K: Well, if they’re leaving, I’ll call it an opportunity missed and its their loss. One needs to make a strategy and has to take the initial tough steps of promoting gaming at a common man level. If they can’t do this, we really cant help them and they cant expect to start making profits first hand. On the other, piracy is big over here. An original game CD costs about Rs. 1500 – 2500, while a pirated game costs Rs. 50 in Palika Bazar, Delhi. Companies need to focus on advertising the benefits of original games, multiplayer features, updates, DLCs etc. If I was the Sale Head of a video game publisher, I’d offer special discounts to students. Most of them cant even afford an original game on a month’s pocket money.
SA: Well CEOs and Sales Heads, I hope you’re getting this! Some pointers to be taken over here!
SA: You’re also having a seminar at the IGC. Whats that all about?
K: We expect many people who”re new entrees to the gaming thing to be there. That’s why where having seminar. Speakers from MAAC, BSK – Pune, game developers will be taking sessions. IGC wants to promote not just e-games, but also game developers. These speakers will be showing attendees what a developer path looks like and what options they can offer. We’ve also invited some psychiatrists to speak at the seminar. Gamers can be extreme. From spending countless hours in front of the screen to being too much influenced by whats going on in a game, we want to make sure they under how to tackle themselves mentally.
SA: What do you have to say about Indian game developers?
K: I personally feel that with time, India has the potential to become the pioneer in developing quality games. We can already see a handful of Indian developers offering quality games at the Apple and Android store. Tab/Mobile gaming is a huge opportunity over here, considering the fact India also pumps out a number of Computer Engineers.
SA: Mobile gaming is one thing, our developers should be fully equipped to develop a full fledged console/PC game. Anyway, thanks for your time Kushagra. All the best for the IGC.
Lastly, Mr. Mukesh Maurya, the Manager of Business Development finally agrees to give illgaming some time.
SA: Hello Mukesh. So hows the response been so far, matching your expectations?
Mukesh Maurya: The response when the event was announced was slightly mixed. Word spread around quickly with the global gaming community, mainly because we are offering a large sum of prize money, but with time the interest dwindled mainly due to India’s reputation of organizing big carnivals. Although, lately I must say, the response from Indian gamers has been massive. This is totally relatable to our habits. Indians like finalizing plans in the 11th hour and thats exactly how its been.
SA: You’ve planned to organize the IGC yearly, where do you see in 5 years?
MM: We should giving all major Indian events a run for their money. IPL. Bollywood. Formula 1. etc. This year, we’re starting almost bang-on along with IPL. What the IGC can offer that the IPL cant, is that in the IGC, the public aren’t just mere spectators, but are participants and can make good money. We’ll have to have a little bit of Razmataz at the IGC to gain popularity in its initial stages. Thats why, we’re also having Honey Singh as a performer this year.
SA: Do you think cosplay would be successful? Has it been done in India before?
MM: Yes Cosplay has been done in India twice, by Score and ComicCon, but at a very small scale, with only 5-10 cosplayers. At the IGC, we have 20 of our own cosplayers, and the public! So yes, its definitely at a scale never seen before in India.
SA: Piracy is big part of the gaming scene in India. How do we combat that?
MM: Well piracy is often misunderstood over here. Yes, pirated games are sold in volumes, but this is changing slowly and people have started buying original games. Websites like flipkart, LetsBuy and GAme4U are doing pretty good with video game sales. The trend here is different from the west. People first go out and buy the pirated game, try it out. If they like it, they do make it a point to buy the original copy. That is why we encourage publishers to take out demos for their games, so that people can try. Ten years back, this was the trend, its changed now but I think it should come back. Remember the times the internet was flooding with freeware and shareware software. We first tinkered with the freeware and if we liked it, we went ahead with the purchase of the full version. Mobile games have huge sales in India, mainly because one can first download a ‘freee limited version’ to try out the game/software.
SA: Lots of young developers and and game-making start up companies are coming up. What do they need to do catch the market?
MM: Focus on the entertainment value of the game. They have a huge market to cater to, a big opportunity. They need make sure the ‘fun factor’ is strong in whatever they do. Indian developers are putting themselves on the gaming map. Just recently a game fully developed in India got inducted into the PSN. This is a first, and once there’s a first, I’m sure many will follow.
SA: Well Mr. Mukesh, thank you for your valuable insight and all the best for the IGC!