Mumbai: Indian batsman Virender Sehwag was injured during a practice session. As manager of the Indian cricket team, what would you do: send him to a spa for rest and recreation, or sign him up for a pep talk with an iconic player? That’s just one of the many issues you could face while playing travel website Yatra.com’s Cricket Manager game online.
With the cricket World Cup 2011 in full swing, businesses as varied as travel websites, telecom service providers, chocolate makers, motor oil companies and online publishers such as Yahoo.com and Rediff.com are launching online games and mobile applications that revolve around cricket.
Cricket is India’s most popular sport, and the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup, held every four years, is its biggest tournament, pitching top teams from around the world against each other. India, along with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, is co-hosting this year’s edition, which began on 19 February.
Alok Kejriwal, chief executive officer and co-founder, Games2Win, said Rs 25-30 crore, or 5-6% of the Rs 400-500 crore online advertising expenditure in India, goes to gaming. Of this, 15% is directed to cricket-themed games.
“To create an affinity with my target audience, it was important to do something with cricket,” said Pratik Mazumder, head of marketing and strategic relations at Yatra.com, which launched the game last month. “Cricket is such a large platform that we are hoping to attract a large number of new users (with this game).”
Indiagames Ltd has launched Cricket WorldCup Fever, a mobile game for iPhone, iPad and Android platforms, as well as T20 Fever on Facebook.
Ibibo.com has launched CricEx, a virtual trading game where you can buy and sell shares of your favourite cricket players instead of the shares of companies. Games2Win has 22 cricket-themed games in its portfolio, some of which are being used by brands to promote cricket on their sites.
ICC recently launched Cricket Power, an Internet browser-based simulation published by Karkadann Games that features teams and players participating in the World Cup.
“It certainly gives us the opportunity to showcase this treasured game and engage a wider audience through a platform like online gaming, which is becoming more prevalent and relevant to the next generation of cricket fans,” said Campbell Jamieson, general manager, commercial, ICC.
Zapak Digital Entertainment Ltd, which has the rights to distribute Cricket Power, has supplied 25,000 CDs at 250 sales outlets across India.
“It is already the number one selling PC (personal computer) title in Crossword (a bookstore chain) within a week’s time. We plan to put in another 25,000 units during the World Cup 2011 in all leading stores,” said Deepak Abbot, vice-president (product), Zapak.com.
Prasanth Mohanachandran, co-founder of Mumbai-based AgencyDigi Communications Pvt. Ltd, said cricket-related online and mobile games were not quite as good or popular as games related to some other sports.
“If you look at any of the Fifa (Federation Internationale de Football Associations) games, they play on even if Fifa (World Cup) is not around the scene. Or, for that matter, the golf tour games which are adaptable across PC, console and mobile. There are no huge multi-player games for cricket in that sense and brands are also not exploring gaming opportunities to their potential,” Mohanachandran said.