Mumbai: Atindriya Bose, country manager, PlayStation, Sony Computer Entertainment, talks about the company’s future strategies and the launch of Desi Adda: Games of India, its first console game developed in the country for PlayStation Portable (PSP) and PlayStation2 (PS2) that can be played in three Indian languages. Edited excerpts:
Slow and steady: PlayStation’s Bose says Desi Adda, with six traditional Indian games and three language options, is targeted at new gamers.
It’s been nine years since PS2 was launched in India. There’s some fear that the games collection would dry up. Will you go back to the catalogue of old games or invest in developing new content?
It’s a combination of both for India because in this market PlayStation still has a long way to go. Indian developers and our partnership with them is working fine in bringing newer content and content we can take to international markets.
Desi Adda: Games of India, which features traditional Indian games such as Pachisi, Kite Flight and Kabbadi, among others, for example, will also be launched in South Africa, Middle East markets and the UK.
The second is the catalogue strategy. Even though PS2 was launched in 2001 in India, it has only picked up steam in the last two years where the market actually grew. This catalogue approach has worked well here because you can be selective and bring in stuff that is suited to this market.
How has PlayStation done in India?
On an annual basis, all consoles put together (PSP, PS2 and PS3), we now sell 300,000 consoles every year. Of this, PS2 and the PSP account for 80% of units sold. In terms of market drivers and penetration, PlayStation2 has now gone even beyond the Top 20 cities, followed by PSP, while the PS3 is still a top 10 metro phenomenon.
Keeping this in mind, the content being developed here is largely for PS2 and PSP, as it has been developed for new gamers and has been designed of them. For PS3, international content strategy works very well.
Desi Adda, which showcases six traditional Indian games, has been developed for PSP and PS2 in three languages—Hindi, Tamil and Punjabi —and the price points for these and the content are targeted at new gamers.
While the challenges are elaborate enough, you don’t want depth of game—which is 70-80 hours—which can push up the price. So, while there is certain limit on game play, it definitely matches international standards. While the recession did slow things for everyone, the rate of growth has bounced back, with impressive sales during the back-to-school season and Diwali this year.
There was some talk of launching educational games that would help students preparing for competitive exams such as the civil services. Is there any progress on that?
We will launch two games within the next month. The first is World Quiz, which tests you on questions that would typically be asked in an IAS (Indian Administrative Service) exam or at the school-exam level.
The other is even more focused on professional courses and will typically be handy for students appearing for an IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) entrance exam, engineering exam or medical exam.
So, we will be going to the educational community to market these games, such as coaching classes, and these products will be priced at Rs499.
What are the new products that have been developed in India and that Sony is looking to launch here?
You will see a lot more games being developed out of India and there are several projects in the pipeline. After Hanuman: Boy Warrior and Desi Adda: Games of India, we have two quiz games in the educational space for entrance exams. We will be moving into cricket as well. Not the cricket that you see at the Ashes, but the kind of cricket that you see Indians playing on the street, more of a gulli cricket. Following that, there are three or fours new properties that will be launched.
What is the potential for brand tie-ups and branded content?
The potential is fairly great. While it has been done extensively internationally, we aren’t pursuing it actively here. The objective is to get the numbers in any indirect revenues are not a priority at this point.
Internationally, Sony has launched its new games in digital theatres. Will we see more of that here?
We have done it here as well. We have Sony Pictures and in that studio, we have launched games such as God of War and GT5, which lend themselves well to large-screen format. In games such as these, we need to create a mood, (which is) why we chose to launch it in this way. In each case, we determine which strategy works best and we will go with that.