With this piece, we take a look at the Indian Gaming Industry with Ludo King being our special point of focus. The industry has been growing since the last few years and has only erupted during the lockdown. With the Ban of PUBG and release of FAU-G, it has become even more important for us to understand the current and future trends of this industry. Let’s dive right in the piece!
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The size of Indian Gaming Industry
With 65% of India’s population below the age of 35, India is a young country and an influential market for the online gaming industry.
In the recent report published by Limelight networks, the $930 million Indian Gaming Industry is forecasted to grow 41% annually. More than the Men’s grooming category. The concept of Gaming is at financial infusion state with the rapid rise in consumption expected and investments likely to accelerate. On average, a gamer spends 6 hours 15 min weekly on the gaming platform, the time ranging from 45 minutes to 12 hours a week. More than what people spend studying on Edtech Platforms.
There are 400 gaming start-ups in India betting in three major Gaming categories: Real Money Games, Casual Games and E-sports.
Real Money Games are the ones that charge a minimum entry fee and then you earn/lose based on the outcome of the play. Such games include Rummy, Poker, Teen Patti, etc. It is known that the time investment here is huge, people bet and play these games all day. Ever seen those ads popping on your screen saying how a random person made a fortune playing these games? This is because they cannot directly advertise, so they do a Surrogate advertisement sometimes. Anyway, let’s head to the next category.
A casual game is a video game that doesn’t require a huge time investment to play, win, and enjoy. Angry Birds, Temple Run, Candy Crush fall under this category.
But here’s another big category, possibly the one that made the Indian Gaming Industry what it is today. The E-sports. E-sports are the professional tournaments that consist of shooting, battleground arena, MMORPG, or fighting games multiplayer video games. These include Call of Duty, PUBG, Counter-Strike, DotA 2, World of Warcraft, Modern Warfare, to name a few.
Even though the revenue contribution of Real Money Games is the highest, the Usage and Loyalty of professional gamers lies to E-sports. Because this category comes with some actual fame. Winning a tournament > Winning a few hundred bucks. You can’t even say that to a friend, can you?
Anyway, Barring those, Indian masses incline towards casual games. Casual gamers contribute to 58.7% of all Indian gamers. Thus the admiration received for casual games is remarkable.
Indian Gaming Industry: A sad story pre 2019
Until 2019, Indian companies made few or no marks in the global online gaming industry. With all the popularity showered to games like Clash of Clans, PUBG, Nintendo games, the simplicity aspect of gaming remained unexplored. At least for games that would include some Indian angle.
But then, pandemic happened. And then the lockdown. People started staying at home. They had to talk to their friends, they wanted to replace their casual coffee/chai talks with something else, this is where games came in. More and more Indians started downloading games like PUBG, Ludo King, etc.
Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a campaign #PlayApartTogether to promote social activity while maintaining social distancing.
A welcomed move and international recognition from WHO boosted the Global gaming industry. Pre-COVID, India had a total of 300 million mobile gamers. The industry exploded post-COVID, a leading gaming portal said they saw a 200% rise in their user base. Ludo King crossed 400 million installs alone in a period of 3 months of lockdown.
The Rise of Ludo King
Ludo King which is developed by Gametion Technologies, a Mumbai based start-up, truly became a Quarantine Sensation. Vikash Jaiswal, the founder and CEO of Gametion Technology, developed his first-ever game Eggy Boy overnight, which was highly appreciated and received ‘Game of the Month’ award. In 2015, with a team of 6 members, Ludo King was conceptualised. Traditionally known as Pachisi, this board game is prominently played in South-East Asia, Europe and the middle-east. It also finds a special mention in the tales of Indian mythology.
Ludo king has surpassed its competitors and set awe-inspiring records. Key records set by Ludo King are
- India’s top-ranked gaming app, on Android and iOS
- The first Indian game to cross 100 million downloads
- India’s first and world’s third most downloaded game on Google Play.
- 185+ million Daily Active Users
- Beaten legendary games like Candy Crush, PUBG, Temple Run, in the race of monthly active users
- India’s favourite quarantine game
- Amongst Top Global Game with 483 million downloads.
Raging bull casino 200 no deposit bonus codes 2020. The game targeted from Gen X to Gen Z taps onto the emotional and nostalgic sentiment of people. Ludo has been a childhood memory of every generation and the best past time as well. With the launch of digital Ludo, one could relish the fun of board game without the requirement of a physical board.
Another important aspect where Ludo King wins over other online Ludo games is the player interaction. It’s a multiplayer game where family members, together or apart, friends or strangers can connect and play the game with hassle-free communication. Due to its launch of audio-visual feel and ‘Festival E-greetings’ in July 2020, the distance barrier has vanished virtually.
The constant efforts of developers to offer a new experience to gamers has enhanced its likability amongst gamers. From the traditional design of Ludo to fascinating themes, from four-player to six-player room, the app marks an edge over other games. It has also tied up with Amazon Prime to offer one premium game theme every month.
Surprisingly, the age group of 46-60 has the maximum share of 29.4% in Indian gaming Industry. The Gen Z is well-versed with the basic functioning of the smartphone and has lately started using it as a source of entertainment. Unlike other games which require agility and practice to level up, Ludo King is a breath of fresh air. It is a game made to sit down and relax with family. With the ban of PUB-G and other Chinese apps, people speculated the ban of Ludo King too, unaware of the fact that it is indeed an Indian app.
The trend of casual games is setting up with the current stressed lifestyle, lack of personal interaction and need to socialise. This explains the rising popularity of casual games like Ludo King that resonates the interests of the majority gaming population. The Indian Gaming Industry will gain momentum in the next five years and hit $3.75 billion owing to the booming digital infrastructure and internet penetration.
What lays in future for Ludo King?
As the situation inches towards normalization, the Daily Active Users (DAU) may drop. Yet, it is predicted that the count will still be higher than February 2020. People have got the taste of the game, which will bring the gamers back to the game, even post the lockdown. Ludo King also plans to expand its business in Bangladesh, UAE and some European nations. It has actively been looking into the feasibility of 12 player room.
Currently, Ludo King’s 80% of the revenue comes from advertising and 20% from in-app purchases. With the launch of new features and customised themes, it aims for 60-40 structure, a substantial increase in revenue from in-app purchases.
The ever increasing support to #AtmaNirbhar Bharat, #VocalForLocal, ban on PUBG and launch of FAU-G, Ludo King stands as the only Indian made gaming app which ticks all boxes and is appreciated for its futuristic outlook. The makers intend to keep its audience hooked to the game by being authentic and innovative at once, and endure the title of ‘The beloved game of India’. And with the phenomenal rise of the Indian Gaming Industry, there is no doubt that this will be achieved.
The author of this piece is Swarali Teredesai, a student at Welingkar Institute of Management studies. If you liked the piece, go ahead and share this with your best friend on WhatsApp.
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Creaters of online ludo have plugged into a deep well of nostalgia, while updating the game for the era of the internet.
One morning earlier this year, Vikash Jaiswal, the developer who created the online game Ludo King, received a strange phone call that woke him up. It was from a young man in Bihar, calling at 5 am to demand the cheat code for Ludo King. His entire town was playing it, the man said, and people were betting on it. Pleading for the cheat code, he said, 'I'll share the earnings with you.' That was just one of the things that brought home to Jaiswal how widespread his game had become.
Ludo King, made by Jaiswal's company Gametion in Mumbai, is currently India's most popular free online game, and was launched on Google Play in January 2016. By mid-2016, Ludo King had fuelled an obsession in India and beyond that now involves millions of players and over a hundred similar apps on Google Play alone. Jaiswal says the game has been downloaded around 120 million times. The ludo craze in India has ranged from large numbers of fellow travellers playing the game on Mumbai local trains to local competitions in cities like Jodhpur, and even a new eatery that opened in Ahmedabad at the end of August called Ludo King Café, with no direct connection to Gametion's hit offering but cashing in on it just the same. And although online ludo has swept across borders, finding dedicated fans in fellow South Asian countries as well as countries like Indonesia, Sudan and Brazil, a significant chunk of the top developers fuelling this wave are based in south India.
Part of the reason for this may be that south India is home to a huge number of gaming companies - of the nearly 200 game development companies listed in NASSCOM's directory, companies in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana form a large chunk. Adding Maharashtra to this group makes for an overwhelming majority - around three-fourths of the companies on the list.
The Indian gaming industry is increasingly significant worldwide for the sheer number of users the country has. According to a report by research firm App Annie, although smartphone penetration in India was under 30% in 2016, India had the world's highest number of app downloads on Google Play, and the time Indians spent engaging with apps saw 'staggering growth'. Worldwide, games formed the highest downloads and earned the most revenue on iOS and Google Play for 2015 and 2016.
One factor behind what the report describes as India's 'exploding user [base]' could be the release of Reliance Jio last year. In September 2016, the mobile network operator Reliance Jio launched 4G services that were initially free, crossing 100 million subscribers in February 2017. In July it launched a 'free' phone. Many more people across rural and urban India are in possession of cheap Android phones like the Jio one than ever before, and that's where free online ludo games come in.
In 2016, Temple Run 2 was among the top games for both iOS and Android in India. According to KalaGato.com, a market and competitive intelligence website, by June 2017, Ludo King had overtaken Temple Run 2, with a reach in terms of app installs in India of over 6% (as compared to Temple Run 2's 4.5%), with a strong upward trend.
One other reason online ludo is growing to be such a huge phenomenon in South Asia is that to most people it needs no introduction: offline versions have been around for centuries. Versions of it are said to have been played in the Mahabharata and by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Pachisi and chaupar are older variants of ludo, as are thayakaram, which is played in Tamil Nadu, ashta chamma in Andhra, and chauka bara, as it is known in parts of Karnataka. Today, ludo and its variants remain widely available offline as well, all the way from mass-marketed boardgames made by companies like Funskool (which even has Disney- or Star Wars-themed versions) to niche hand-embroidered versions created by individuals like Mumbai-based Sophie Johari, who says that today, such games bring back 'memories of childhood'.
Play Ludo Online
In that sense, creaters of online ludo have plugged into a deep well of nostalgia, while updating the game for the era of the internet. 'I used to spend whole evenings playing Ludo with friends when I was young,' says Afsar Ahmad, who grew up in Ramgarh, Jharkhand. The 27-year-old Bangalore-based game developer is a co-founder of Gameberry Labs, which makes Ludo STAR - the second most popular ludo game in India, and so popular in Pakistan that when its servers crashed on August 21 because of heavy traffic, it prompted a series of funny and anguished tweets that were even reported in Pakistani news.
Ahmad and his co-founder Govind Agarwal - from Siliguri, West Bengal - who were roommates when they joined IIT Kharagpur eight years ago, moved to Bangalore to work in a gaming company before quitting to strike out on their own. 'The gaming ecosystem in Bangalore is the best of all cities,' Agarwal believes. Roommates again for the last three years, they work out of their flat in HSR Layout (once a residential neighbourhood on the edge of town, now fast filling up with shops and enterprises), with a small team handling the growing number of users since they launched Ludo STAR in March this year. Although online ludo was already hugely popular by the time Ahmad and Agarwal launched their game, they felt there was still space for a new one that was built well, and it paid off - Agarwal says they've had around 10 million downloads on Android alone.
The success of India's online ludo games has been marked by the fervour with which it has been adopted across the world. In August, Pajhwok Afghan News reported that online ludo was so widespread in Kabul that everyone from school kids to government officials was addicted to it. Ludo STAR's highest number of users right now are from Pakistan, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, in that order. And the game is now available with support in 7 languages, including Urdu, Portuguese, Indonesian, and Arabic. Ludo Neo-Classic, another highly popular game, was made by Kathmandu-based indie developer Jeevan Shrestha with his home country Nepal as his initial target. Players from Nepal form his third largest base, after India and Pakistan. To cater to fans in Indonesia, Ludo King's Vikash Jaiswal says they plan to tie up with developers there to make a customised version. According to Sudhakar Kanakaraj, an indie developer based in Bangalore and creator of the popular app Ludo Classic, his highest number of users are from countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Angelo Lobo, Director of Design at Zynga (which makes games like Farmville and Words With Friends), has worked in the gaming industry for over 15 years. He believes the current ludo wave in India is down to the perfect recipe of small app sizes that can be downloaded on old and new devices, free access, and cultural relevance. 'We saw a similar wave two or three years ago when everybody and their mother was playing Teen Patti,' he says. (As it turns out, Ahmad and Agarwal worked on a Teen Patti game before forming Gameberry.) Ludo, he believes, is even more 'acceptable' as a cultural pastime - it doesn't involve gambling and is more gender neutral. 'There's a lot of positivity around that kind of game, and it's the kind of thing that we may continue to see in the Indian market until it matures.' The game transcends class as well - in a city like Bangalore, for example, you'll spot a small group of security guards on a street huddled together over a game of online ludo in the same way that you'll see car sales executives play it in an air-conditioned showroom.
'All of us have played [a form of ludo] when we were kids, and I wanted to bring that exact same experience [to players online],' says Kanakaraj. He created Ludo Classic four years ago, before the boom, with simple, elegant graphics reminiscent of playing on a handmade wooden board and a die that bounces realistically. Shrestha's Ludo Neo-Classic is similar, but with a slightly more modern design and customisable rules.
Ludo King and Ludo Star share a more colourful format, and both offer the possibility of playing against a computer, offline with friends, or online with multiple players from across the world. Both games allow chatting with fellow players - either using a pre-set list of greetings, comments and emojis to choose from, such as 'Play Fast!' on Ludo King, or chat windows on Ludo Star that are moderated for abuse - giving those who play it a sense of joining a vast and fun online community.
Anyone trying to understand the success of online ludo might want to talk to Asif Nazeer, a 26-year-old Pakistani blanket salesman working in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Nazeer is the kind of person you might describe as a devotee. He first searched for ludo online after he found himself in that annoying place - the fifth person in a game of ludo among friends. 'Now all my friends play Ludo Star and we rarely play real life ludo,' he says. At first he says he spent 18 hours a day playing Ludo Star, and describes the day he was made 'Player of the week' as a 'memorable day in my career of Ludo Star.' Now, he manages a Facebook group dedicated to Ludo Star, a responsibility that doesn't permit him to play on the same level as before - he 'has to sacrifice his game and fun' to help and motivate the members of his group.
Ludo King Online Betting Games
Nazeer articulates just why online ludo games have captured so many hearts: 'This game has thrill, suspense, tension, fun, challenge, and the power of bringing people closer from every part of the world.'
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(Published in arrangement with GRIST Media)
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