THE UNSUNG HEROES OF GAMING

Publisher: Bangalore Mirror Bureau, By Shradha Mohanty, Dec 17 2014, Bangalore.

Indie game developers have a job on their hands — to stand out amid the plethora of free games out there

Bengaluru is now home to 5,000 game developers, close to 2,000 of whom design games in the mobile space. The city is the second largest base for developers after Mumbai

Bengaluru is now home to 5,000 game developers, close to 2,000 of whom design games in the mobile space. The city is the second largest base for developers after Mumbai

From racing your car through unknown terrain to building your farm, there are games of every kind on our smartphones, tablets and PCs these days. However, behind the scenes it is a challenging life for game creators, especially indie game developers, as they passionately, yet painstakingly try to make sure their game reaches the audience.

Simply put, an indie game developer (IGD) works alone or in a small team and usually lacks the financial resources to publish and popularise his videogame. Narasimha Reddy, Founder and CEO, Dumadu Games, said: “An IGD cannot just make a game, publish it online and expect it to do well. Now the market is flooded with games. For something to stand out, he has to make it unique.”

For instance the online version of the word game Scrabble. While most of us are familiar with it and a search on the Play Store throws multiple versions of the game, the user would only go for the version whose features are user-friendly and has a clean interface, such as large letters or a proper contrast of colours, making it unique among the rest.

“The developers have to think from a player’s perspective. Something too different might put them off. The idea is to present something relatable with a slight twist to it. If the user likes what he experiences, he will download it; multiple downloads will help it get featured on online app stores, which in turn helps gain visibility. Then it starts showing up on your friend’s list or goes about through word-of-mouth. Basically, a domino effect to popularity,” explains Rishikanth Somayaji, Lead Game Designer, Dumadu Games.

Another reason for IGDs not raking in the money is that users prefer to play online games for free. “The culture of buying and playing games has not set in India yet. There are so many games available for free. Why would anyone want to pay for anything?” explains Chirag Hota, an ardent gamer and mobile app developer at a start-up.

To work their way around this, most of the games are partially monetised, where users can download the game for free and are then charged if they want to avail an advantage such as going to the next level, earning a game life or simply opting for the game’s upgraded version.

Even the amount earned through skill-based betting, which involves users putting in their money in the game to play against each other, part of which goes to the developers, depends on how great the game is to earn a sizable sum.

Advertisements such as pop-ups and banner ads do not help either, as it can be an annoying experience for users. “With so many barriers, some developers tend to get discouraged and give up after creating one or two games,” said Reddy.