Moderator: A. R. Vishwanath, Chairman & CEO, IMI Mobile: I would like to discuss about the quality of content especially in relation to mobile games.
Salil Bhargava, Chief Executive Officer, Jump Games: Quality in terms of content has never been as relevant as it is today, till a few years back mobile gaming was the buzz word but today it is hardly mentioned. The reasons this has happened is that when mobile gaming first came to India there was a huge quantity available but the quality was sub-par, therefore a customer played the game once but never came back to it because he had spent Rs.50 downloading it but he finished it one go. This defeated the whole purpose of the game because gaming is all about challenge and playing the game over and over again and this seriously affected the growth of the mobile gaming industry.
As a company we have always been focussed on games and we spend about 6 months creating a game and our quality criteria are based on acceptance by an international carrier. Passing the QA (quality assurance) test is very important and at least 45 people in my company are involved only in QA. In fact the European carriers have very stringent rules like the “three strike” where if a carrier gets three complaints against a game, then the game provider is blacklisted for at least 2 months, which leads to massive losses in revenue.
The scenario in India is also changing slowly and operators here too are demanding quality games and that is one reason there has been so much consolidation in the industry that today there are only about 2-3 players left in this field. So in the last six months there has been a definite turn around and the revenue has been increasing significantly in fact according to some operators, about 30% of their mobile entertainment revenue is coming from gaming.
Therefore the future of growing in the gaming industry lies in:
- Single player casual games like Tetris
Zubin Dubash, GM - New Products, Tata Teleservices: From the operator’s point of view, gaming is all about a name because after all that is what a customer sees on the deck of a WAP portal and downloads it. For instance when one sees Tetris one knows about it and one downloads it, or maybe one sees Don or Om Shanti Om, one can visualise it and therefore maybe download it, but when a customer reads something like Mortal Combat Tank, then one is not sure what it is and one doesn’t download it.
Therefore it is all in the name because till now there is no option available to preview a game as in the case of wallpaper or ringtone. And of course upon downloading if the game is not according to the customer’s visualization or fails to meet the expectations, then there is no repeat purchase.
Quality is the most fundamental requirement in the success of a game, however there is also a requirement for commercial models and I would like to put some focus on that.
Raj Singh, Managing Director, ActiveMedia: Today advertising is trying to become part of the business model of infotainment, where some of the games are free and totally ad funded while others are still on full-pay basis. When I look at mobile gaming from my company’s perspective I feel that there is going to be a transition in this area but a slow one because the amount of money that is made in charging the end consumer for mobile VAS is much larger than the ad revenues that are moving on the mobile.
So there is an incremental shift from traditional media spend to the digital but it is a slow process and comparing the numbers one feels that maybe ad subsidization is an area that can be dwelt upon in selective areas where advertising components come into play and price point gets lower for the consumer, but ad funding is going to take a much longer time to come into the market.
There is a very interesting phenomenon that is being seen where mobile infotainment is being used as a promotional tool by businesses, for instance a bank in the UK is giving free tracks to every new customer. I would also like to discuss content delivery platform issues.
Chetan Jain, Chief Executive Officer, i2i Telesource Pvt Ltd: There are certain factors that would drive content:
- Uniqueness or branded content
- Presentation of content (Language)
- Making sure the content is available on all handsets
- Mobile advertising, there will be a lot of redemption for subscribers through content
- Analytics or understanding the consumer behaviour.
Raj Singh, Managing Director, ActiveMedia: I would like to add discoverability to that as in how the customer finds the content and who helps him to find it. Till date in India this has been largely the operator’s role in terms of deciding on and promoting the content for the consumer. Outside the operator it is very difficult for companies to promote their content, only a few like India times can afford it and that is one thing that needs to change. There is need to create an environment for promotion of non-operator promoted services too.
Zubin Dubash, GM - New Products, Tata Teleservices: We need to do a reality check to find out what the consumer wants. Today we have an existing base of customers and they are primarily prepaid, this means that there spend is limited to a certain amount that they allocate from their household budgets, so the entertainment requirement of this customer is adequate his affordability is questionable, therefore as an operator we have to manage that and give him the same type of content in a form that he can consume and pay for in small quantities.
The second segment is an evolved customer who knows his requirements and is ready to pay for it; these are the customers who will be the adopters of the 3G services.
And finally there is the much-discussed rural segment, which is slated to become the biggest segment in the next few years. In the rural areas there are phones without screens, how can one offer content to them on that. The only way to do that is on the server side, which is the CRBT or the ring back tones. But the question here is whether the customer wants this or not.
According to our in depth research an evolved customer needs music, gaming, videos and location based services. The current or prepaid customer also wants music but he has only Rs5 in his account so for them we use the CRBT and offer them ring back tones for a period of say 5 days and the same goes for any other service but it has to be in sync with his affordability.
For the rural customer entertainment is not a priority he wants the phone so that it can make a difference to his livelihood. At Tata Teleservices for instance a year back we launched a pilot project of an application called the fisher friend application that was specifically aimed at the poor fishermen of Tamilnadu. This application gave them access to weather information, good catchments areas and market prices of various fish and anything else that could help him to improvise and speed his fishing process thereby making an impact on his livelihood.
We need to keep the three S formula in mind, that is short span, small screen and small money and work within this parameter.