Ever imagined playing a game over a voice call from a landline telephone? And I’m not talking of KBC! I’m talking of a real multi-player game.
Neither had I, till I spoke to Nikhil Soman.
This former VP of Reliance Big Entertainment founded Dailify Technologies that built audio games for delivery over telephone networks. So innovative was this product that it featured in the semi final stages of Amazon Web Service’s Global Startup Challenge, 2010; the only Indian startup to reach that far.
At its peak, Dailify had as many as 500,000 paying customers across various networks. But the revision of rules by TRAI in 2011 made the business model un-viable.
But this didn’t deter Nikhil from his endeavors with gaming. Drawing from his experience of bringing to life Reliance Big Entertainment’s Zapak.com and BigAdda.com, Nikhil has founded Playblazer, a different kind of gaming platform. Incorporated in the US, Playblazer reduces time and effort required to build multiplayer games by providing ready made backend services for game development.
Building a multi-player game is no game
It’s not easy building multi-player games. Nikhil says, “Most game studios build single player games. Building a multiplayer game requires big server side work which is time consuming and requires a lot of expertise. Playblazer’s proposition is: we take care of the backend, your gaming team can work on the frontend.”
Since January, Playblazer has acquired over 10 clients. “Jump Games from Pune was our first client. They’re launching a multiplayer version of one of their popular labels in a few days,” says Nikhil.
San Francisco – the gaming ‘zone’
After Dailify’s successful run at the AWS Global Startup Challenge 2010, Nikhil competed for the 2012 edition of the contest with Playblazer. Playblazer was a finalist, so the team trooped to San Francisco. “We didn’t win the contest, but we got invited to be a part of YetiZen, a gaming accelerator.”
San Francisco is a great place for any gaming company. Nikhil says “The US has a larger audience for gaming. San Francisco’s gaming studios churn out 70% of all games played.”
The Indian gaming market – many laps to go
The gaming industry in India isn’t very big.
Nikhil says, “India has a first generation gaming audience. This is changing rapidly, mainly because of the younger generation, who have already played more games than what we’ve done in all our lives. However, the gaming audience is still not large”
“There is a dearth of game development talent in India. Making a good game involves big investments, for which you need a large market. We’re still not there yet.”
“However, we’ve seen many Indian game studio cater for the world market, which is a good trend for the world scene.”
After a year of developement work, Playblazer is still in beta. Says Nikhil, “We plan to stay in beta mode for a while. Gaming is very complex and there’s always something that you can build on it. For example, to build a basic, turn by turn game, you need about 15 backend services, which Playblazer already has. By the end of this year, we’ll be looking to increase that number to 30. You’re truly out of beta, when there’s nothing more to do with the product.”
With the help of a seed funding from former India Games COO Sameer Bangara, Playblazer has acquired 10 clients and is currently scouting for an institutional round of funding. Nikhil runs developer outreach programs as part of sales and marketing. “We’re currently targeting game studios which are above a certain size and have a good processes in place.
Nikhil muses over gaming in India: “Entertainment evolves as culture evolves. The previous generation never imagined of something like the internet: today it is a part of everyday life. Entertainment is drifting towards interaction; gaming is the best manifestation of this.
“Like the internet, gaming too will grow slowly in India. Today, the internet supports e-commerce industry, online banking etc., but it has taken 15 years to do so. With the coming generation taking to gaming in the masses, the market will grow faster than before.
Nikhil says gaming marks an important change in entertainment and knowing that he is part of that change keeps him going.
We’ll stay on course to bring you more from Playblazer.