The Indian gaming sector is witnessing surge in growth with the increasing number of game creation to catering large audience. Today on one hand where cost of game creation is escalating in China on the other hand, India has emerging as the hub for gaming process outsourcing (GPO) activity, catering to top gaming markets such as US and Japan, among others. 15 years ago, the average cost of developing a console game was anywhere between $1-2 million, today the same game is developed at around $25-30 million even more. Around 60 per cent of the cost of development of a game is about its art and animation.
In conversation with AnimationXpress Lakshya Digital CEO and co- founder Manvendra Shukul shares various aspect on why India is becoming hub for GPO. Here is the excerpt:
What is gaming process outsourcing (GPO)?
Gaming Process Outsourcing (GPO), as the name proposes, is the outsourcing of various processes that are required for the development and advancement of a game, to third party companies which are specialised in the process. Some of the processes involved in game development that are outsourced to third party specialist companies are sound creation, art creation, programming, testing and so on.
Video games consolidate components like art, design, code, and audio to make complex, engaging and intuitive entertainment products. The development cycle incorporates various aspects that are typically divided into three phases -pre-production, production, and post-production.Pre-production involves activities like game design, concept art creation and prototyping. The major development work takes place in the production phase which includes creation of art assets, level creation, programming, audio creation and testing. The post-production phase mainly consists of activities like bug fixing, localisation and maintenance. It also involves the creation and release of additional game content in the form of Downloadable Content or DLC. Game Development is a complex process it requires tens of millions of dollars along with large teams of highly skilled people. Outsourcing helps to overcome many of the challenges associated with cost and talent
How big is the GPO space in India and its growth potential?
The Indian gaming industry is approximately valued at over $890 million (approximately Rs 6000 crore) and accounts for roughly 1 per cent of the global gaming industry and is poised to become one of the world’s leading markets in the gaming sector.India took its baby steps into this space around a decade and a half back – the same time when Lakshya Digital was formed. However, we have done amazingly well from that point on and we are remarkably close to prevailing players in this space.
The development capability of GPO industry is a lot like the BPO industry in India and owes a lot to the availability of a large trained talent pool in the nation at competitive rates. There are additional reasons like familiarity with the English language, inherent cultural flexibility of Indians and their ability to quickly absorb and engage with people of other cultures.
With the world’s largest population of youth (two-thirds of our 1.3 billion people are under the age of 35), abundant talent in programming and art, technical and creative skill sets and a professional aptitude to meet international game development needs at competitive costs, India has already begun its journey to becoming a GPO hub.
How India is positioned vis a vis its biggest competitor China in gaming art Industry?
About 10 to 12 years back China was one of the very few countries which had gaming studios providing Art and Animation outsourcing services. It was the largest and the go-to partner for global game developers and publishers. That was also the time when Indian gaming companies started providing these services. At that time clients hardly knew that India had companies providing these services, even if they did, they considered them as low skill, cheap sweat-shops. But since then, Indian gaming studios have come a long way and are now giving a tough competition to Chinese studios. In lot of cases taking business away from the Chinese studios. The quality of work happening in India currently compares to the best that is happening anywhere in the world, and not just China. In fact, we have reached a stage that the global publishers and developers prefer to work with India because of easier management and communication. Today, India has as much respect in the global games industry as any other country. During these COVID times too, Indian studios like Lakshya have been the fastest to recover and ensure that production comes back online in the shortest possible time, thus ensuring that the project timelines of our clients do not suffer. This further demonstrate the fact that besides delivering great quality, Indian studios have matured to a very high degree and have the most professional approach and mindset to ensure complete client satisfaction, inspite of trying circumstances. This places Indian studios like Lakshya amongst the most respected, globally, putting India on the global map, where China was a lone player till some time back.
What unique advantages does Gurugram, Bangalore and Pune offers to a GPO outfit like Lakshya?
Cities like Gurugram, Bangalore and Pune have a large pool of creative/art talent that permits us to address to a significant level the innovative prerequisites of the worldwide gaming industry. One reason for this abundance of talent is a huge number of good Art colleges in and around Gurugram, Bangalore and Pune. It is this ready availability of talent pool makes places like Gurugram and Pune top choices for us, allowing us to put together an exceptionally talented team to create best quality innovative art for some of the biggest gaming companies globally.
The strong IT setup and infrastructure of these cities is also one of the reasons that helps in functioning of a creative studio that has extremely high data management needs. The lessons and learnings of the sister BPO industry has helped the Game Art outsourcing companies of Gurugram, Bangalore & Pune in providing the best-in-class customer experience to clients.
Does India and specially Gurugram, Bangalore and Pune have the potential to become a GPO hub?
Absolutely. Gurugram, Bangalore and Pune have the potential to become a GPO hub.Infact they are well on their way with many international publishers and developers establishing their base in these cities. Following are the reasons for the same:
- A large number of artists and programmers graduating every year and from art and tech institutes situated not only in Pune or Gurugram but also from neighboring states and metro cities like UP, Rajasthan, Mumbai, NCR and Punjab, and more.
- These cities are already major IT hubs and have relatively good infrastructure compared to other cities.
- These cities have good connectivity with the rest of the country because of the availability of different mode of transports.
What are the career opportunities for the youths in gaming art development industry?
A wide range of career options exist in the gaming industry, in disciplines as diverse as Design, Art, Programming, Testing, Project Management and many more. Each discipline requires a distinct skill set and one can opt for a career in any discipline depending upon the skills and interests of the aspirant. Game Art, for example, which involves the creation of 2D and 3D graphics and animations (this includes all the interesting characters, exotic environments, exciting animations and so on that one sees in a game) is well suited for those with an interest and aptitude for visual arts.
There are varied job titles in the Game Art discipline, typical ones amongst which are:
Artist: This is a starting position and entails hands-on art creation under the supervision of a Lead Artist.
Senior Artist: These are experienced artists who have been in field for at least 4 to 5 years and typically are entrusted with the more complex art creation tasks on a project. They are expected to work independently (with minimal supervision or direction) and may sometimes be required to take one or two junior artists under their wings.
Lead Artist: They lead teams of artists in specific areas such as Character creation or Environment creation. These are experienced and talented artists with team management capabilities.
Art Director: The one who leads the artistic team and is responsible their management. They lay out the artistic vision for a game. This is a senior position that requires not only visualisation and artistic ability, but also strong leadership skills.
One needs a decent understanding of the specific process, techniques and different procedures involvedin the creation/formation of game art. While creativity/artistic ability is a key pre-imperative for a career in Game Art creation, one also needs to be skilled in the digital tools like Maya, Max, Photoshop, ZBrush, Substance Designer, and more, and have a fundamental comprehension of how game engines, for example, Unreal and Unity work.