“India is the youngest country in the world,
and we believe that Gaming is definitely here to stay “
Being held in Mumbai from 25 to 27 November, The R.A.G.E Gaming Awards and Expo are just round the corner and the best thing about them is the initiative taken by the organisers and all the companies that have supported the event with the Main sponsor for the Expo being Microsoft.
Animation ‘xpress Editor Anand Gurnani had a quick chat on Indian Gaming with Mohit Anand, Country Manager, Microsoft Entertainment & Devices Division, Microsoft India recently.
What’s the latest gaming news at Microsoft India?
The latest gaming news at Microsoft (India) Entertainment & Devices Division is that we have recently launched 3 blockbuster titles Dungeon Seige 2, Fables: The Lost Chapters and Age of Empires 3 in the Market. All have been launched in India simultaneously with their global release and are sequels of our earlier best selling franchises.
Whats your involvement with the R.A.G.E Gaming awards and expo?
This will be the second year in a row that we will be the main sponsors for the R.A.G.E Gaming Awards and Expo. We are collaborating closely with R.A.G.E on the Awards & Expo, our aim being to get a lot of media exposure and awareness around Gaming. We believe that these are the kind of events that are Indian gaming needs and this will definitely help in pushing the envelope for gaming in india.
Talking about promoting Gaming, does Microsoft organise any Gamer community activities and meets in India?
Gaming communities are critical to promoting the gaming culture. Early in Jan 2005, we held the War of a Million tournament across towns and cities in the country. The prize money was in excess of Rs One Million and more than 12,000 gamers took part. Also the Halo competition held with RWorld in Dec03 -Jan04 got around 8,000 gamers. We continue running a lot of community activity for our gamers. A promotional activity that we are doing now is for Age of Empires 3 and Fable. We have tied up with PVR Cinemas (Delhi Bangalore Mumbai and Hyderabad) youngsters who come to these multiplexes shall have the chance of checking out our latest games and promotional material.
When is your next big tournament?
Right now its the R.A.G.E expo that we are focusing on. We really want to make the R.A.G.E Expo big.
Internationally an emerging trend is that of treating and managing gamer communities the CRM way. Where game community management programs are outsourced to specialists. Any such plans in the offing?
Community management is something that we at Microsoft are adept in. At Microsoft, as a company we have a separate division called Microsoft Community Program that manages various Microsoft communities like developers, ISVs etc. We wouldn’t want to outsource something in which we have expertise available internally.
Your take on Piracy?
Piracy is a huge concern. However the fact remains that gaming at the end of the day is an interactive entertainment experience and pirated games can never give the quality and level of experience that an original game will.
We can educate the consumer about the difference of experience in pirated and original games. Finally it is upon the customer to choose wether he wants a jerky, substitute experience with the game crashing from time to time and half the levels not loading properly or whether he wants the ultimate gaming experience.
What about Pricing. Volumes and prices are inter related and in a price sensitive market like India, what’s the route you take? Volumes up hence prices down or prices down hence better volumes?
Pricing is definitely important. We are the only publisher in India whose titles are priced much lower in India as compared to what the same titles cost across the world. For e.g Halo on PC two years ago was 50US$ worldwide and the same game was priced at 32US$ in India, 40% off the global price. Not even a single feature or element was modified, the game came pre packaged to India just the way it went to a Big Retail store in US.
Gaming in the last 7-8 years has really come a long way but it still has a long long way to go. Critical factors like PC penetration, Organised Retail, Broadband, Gaming Hardware need to be addressed to help the industry. Those factors are gradually changing and the future definitely looks bright. India is the youngest country in the world, and the new generation is completely tech savvy. We believe that Gaming is definitely here to stay and evolve.