Originated in late 90s, the Indian gaming industry has travelled a long way from being an outsourcing hub to developing indigenised games and banking on franchisee. While the games of the cadre of Angry Birds and Candy Crush are sharing the market, the ones based on superhero movies and classics such as DDLJ also have potential market share.
In a candid conversation with Retailer Media, Anand Khemani, Director & Founder, e-xpress games and Games The Shop India, shared his opinion about the retail scenario of gaming industry, changing trends and the role of eCommerce in beefing up the market.
Retail scenario around the gaming industry
In gaming industry, everyday there are some new announcements. The Indian PC format or the physical version of any game is very important in India, reason being the limited exposure to Internet and online payment mode.
Like any other segment, retail in this segment also got accustomed with the way consumer behaviour is changing. Now, a consumer is comfortable buying via the eCommerce way. Although this impacts the traditional way of retailing, but ultimately retail is there, be it through the physical format or online. It is growing y-o-y by around 30-40 per cent. If you talk about the market in gaming retail, internationally, it is about 51 billion USD, while in India it is around 300-400 crore.
While the penetration of Internet and Smartphone played an important role in revolutionising the gaming industry, the growing international market and new systems launched every now and then also played a pivotal role.
Anand Khemani emphasises, “Earlier, Indian market was mainly a PC driven market, now it is getting converted to console-based market and PSP or X-box is becoming very popular. That is the inspiration of every kid to own one and even parents are more flexible in buying gaming devices for kids.”
Definitely, the market has matured and the acceptance has gone high.
The changing operating mode
Earlier, gaming distribution was limited to retail outlets like Croma, crossword or planet M which were not gaming outlet but multi-product outlets. They used to give a small section in their outlet. When we opened our own retail outlet in 2009 that was the first time when somebody came with such a phenomenon of opening a shop with just a couple of games in it.
Also, many independent retailers also entered this segment. Catering to them was much easier than the MBOs as much more knowledge base is there, the customer is well aware of what he wants, the sourcing, the know-how of device etc.
Further, advent of eCommerce also changed the way of operations in gaming industry because the market is B2C which is much more operation and fulfillment driven. Now, one needs to get into complete logistics system which was not there earlier. Otherwise, the core remains the same.
Challenges while dealing with MBO
Major challenge was the knowledge of the product or category of these new formats because gaming was a very small part of their business and hence, it lacked the required amount of focus. It existed as a segment but not a focus-segment as gaming contributed roughly 3-5 per cent of their total business.
With the advent of gaming specialist stores, the scenario changed as both consumers and sellers were well aware of the product or category. The gaming community is a very connected community and they all have a special need that is the special understanding of games.
Concept of Games The Shop India
Started in 2009, Games The Shop is the retail store owned by e-xpress games. The basic challenge with MBOs was the lack of connect and understanding. The opportunity as a game specialist backed the concept of Games The Shop.
The first store – the pilot store at R City Mall, Ghatkopar, Mumbai became successful and then further five more stores were rolled out including the ones at Oberoi Mall and Infinity Mall in Mumbai, Express Avenue in Chennai, Mantri Square in Bengaluru and Alpha One in Ahmedabad.
Take on eCommerce
With eCommerce pushing the retail game, the industry has expanded to smaller towns also. That is the reason online store – Gamestheshop.com was launched.
eCommerce is definitely doing great business at the moment as any business online, as the reach immediately expands to 250 odd cities. Put together, eCommerce portal of Games The Shop is giving a better amount of revenue, but each outlet in its own circumference is better than eCommerce.
Movie driven games and their scope
Gaming is a different ball game in itself. Launch of a game called Jurassic Park based out of the movie, is in pipeline, but there is no guaranty that the game will be a success just because it is based on a successful franchise. Ultimately, it is the entertainment value of a particular game or title that plays a major role.