Atindriya Bose has a job that most gamers would die for. He is the country manager for Sony PlayStation and is the driving force behind India’s largest selling video-game console brand. We spoke to him recently about the rapidly growing gaming market in India, the future of the PlayStation brand and what it means to work with video games for a living. Edited excerpts:
You have one of the most awesome jobs ever! Do people always tell you they love your job? Do you get to play a lot?
Well, it is a fun job. But remember that it is a job, after all. I have deliverables in terms of sales and marketing like anyone else. So, it’s not as cool as it looks. But PlayStation is a very good brand and it’s fun to work with the global team and game developers.
Game boy: (top) Bose is creating a catalogue of locally relevant games such as (above) Singstar Bollywood for Indian audiences.
And yes, I do game a little. I am not very good at it though. I have a PS3 at home and a PSP. I check out new games. But that’s about it.
What does the missus say when you game at home? Do you shrug it off as part of your job?
Well, she isn’t bothered about me playing as much as my daughter spending her time with the games.
Talk about awkward predicaments. How can you possibly tell your daughter that gaming is bad for her?
I don’t. And gaming isn’t bad for her, you know. It can be part of a pretty healthy leisure life. And we have games that are great for children. My daughter loves playing the Buzz quiz games we have on the PlayStation platform. Even the wife approves!
The PlayStation has been a surprise success in India. The three consoles — the PS2, PS3 and PSP — have become very popular. What do you attribute this success to?
The brand strength of PlayStation in India is very high in spite of the nascency of the gaming market. The habit of gaming itself has transitioned from being a selective timepass to a serious pastime of a much wider audience.
And PlayStation has indeed played an important role in this. A major reason is the complete product range. The PS2 is the best entry-level console with a huge catalogue of games. The PSP is an extremely powerful and cool gadget. It can do everything — music, Internet, video and games, of course. And for mature gamers, the PS3 is by far the most powerful machine available. This range, and our smart pricing, has just opened up the market. There is something for everyone.
Of late, there has been a lot of talk of locally developed games with very Indian content. We’ve heard of Streets of Mumbai. There was also some talk of a game around Indian sports.
There are both great IT and creative animation companies in India. Game development is really bringing those two strengths together.
We’ve been working with a number of developers in India to make games for the local market. On the other hand, we’ve also begun developing software abroad for India as well.
Gameshastra is working on a PlayStation version of Indian games like kho kho and kabaddi. The first game that has been declared, though, is around the character of Hanuman developed by Aurona Technology. These local games will drive our Indian market even further.
Will our local gamers respond to this content? Will they drive down Marine Drive rather than zip across Monte Carlo or New York?
I am sure they will. In fact, our first experiments were very successful. Both Singstar Bollywood and Buzz Maha Quiz were designed for India and have been well received. So yes, if the quality of the product is good, gamers here will lap it up.
The PS2, though, is an old machine — it’s been over eight years since it was launched. There is some concern that new games for the PS2 may soon dry up.
A lot of people ask me this. The machine already has hundreds of titles. And we’re bringing new ones all the time. And it’s priced very well. PS2 games today cost between Rs499 and Rs999. New gamers should buy a PS2 without a care.
Last question. How do I convince my wife to let my buy a PSP?
(Laughs) Get her to play a casual game on it. Buzz Quiz, Sudoku or Ridgeracer should do the trick. Once she knows there are games that new gamers can enjoy, show her the other cool aspects — the MP3/MP4 player, wireless Internet and digital photo album. And, finally, tell her it all comes at less than Rs9,000. Best of luck!