The eight-year-old phenomena called Octro and the Indian mobile gaming industryAlok Soni
In our last article, we wrote about the accidental entrepreneur Saurabh Aggarwal, Founder of Indian mobile gaming company Octro Inc. An entrepreneur for 13 years now, Saurabh started Octro in 2006 which was into VOIP (voice over IP) for almost six years and then pivoted to gaming.
The company brought games like Teen Patti and Rummy which Indians have been playing for generations into digital space. Within two years, Teen Patti achieved what no other Indian game could do. It garnered 10M+ downloads on Google play store alone.
In this piece, Saurabh spoke about the gaming industry and Octro’s tryst with age-old Indian games.
Gaming Industry in India
Gaming Industry in India is still considered to be at a nascent stage. Its growth has been fueled by the growing number of smartphone and internet users in the country. Potentially, all these users are gamers. Globally, mobile gaming market size is estimated to touch $30 billion this year and cross $40 billion mark in the next two years. Despite the massive increase in the number of gamers in the country, unlike the US market it has been challenging for the mobile gaming companies to monetize.
It's a rapidly changing industry. What happens here in six months, probably takes six years in the enterprise world. Anybody coming into the gaming industry needs to know that they are getting on a treadmill and they need to continue running.
One of the biggest problems in this industry is the loss of gamers’ interest in a game after its peak. Every game follows a curve which goes up and then starts declining. We need to focus on keeping that decline slower. We can do that using analytics, keeping games more interesting for the users.
It is very important to follow the deadlines because users move out of the game very fast. Octro has innovated and adapted a lot in Teen Patti.
The gaming platform
Octro has been working on a B2B gaming platform in the recent past. They haven't still opened it up and are figuring out the right time and right partners to do that. Saurabh spoke about their current (B2C) platform,
On our platform, users from Windows, Android, iOs and HTML sites can connect to and share information. Our platform supports multiple range of devices. Our platform also supports IDE as a client platform. We have added a lot of features and analytics to make it more robust and different.
Octro claims to now track users' movement of how they go through a game or how their progression is in the game.
The India angle to the gamesMajority of the top apps in all app stores are games, and given Octro’s core competency in VOIP, Saurabh decided to go with multiplayer games. He says,
We gained inspiration from Zynga poker (a multiplayer game). We looked at some of the best technologies in the gaming world which were lacking in Indian gaming companies. With our telecom telecom background we wondered how we could bridge the gap. We were looking at games in the same genre (poker). Though a few in number, Indian games like Rummy and Teen Patti fit right there.
Saurabh mentions that Octro was not the first company to introduce Teen Patti to mobile gaming world, but definitely brought the best quality one in the country. Octro claims to be the first gaming company to build ‘an always working’ game platform for Indian users with zero down time last year.
The non-Indian market
Though Saurabh plans to keep his focus on the local and Indian games, he’s looking to expand elsewhere too. Octro does not plan to limit itself to India. Saurabh says,
“We believe that we were built as a technology company. So, over last year, we have tried to gather a lot of experience and skill set in gaming.”
The company has recently launched a newer version of Teen Patti which is made on 3-D wide lines. The visuals are better than the second version and this is built for more mature audience. All these improvements are consciously implemented in order to compete in the western world. Saurabh accepts that the western world is a very mature market and they wouldn't take an immature game.
For the newcomers
With Octro, Saurabh believes that the perception of gaming as a leaderless business, which is all about creatives (similar to the movie business), has been proved wrong. Octro believes that technology is the strength behind building a good game. Saurabh says,
I don't want to discount the creativity that goes into building a game, that's a big part, but a lot of game developers miss on the technology part, and about getting the engagement right. We started off by building a platform where we did everything for social engagement. We caught up on monetization very early.
Competition and 2015
The intense competition in mobile gaming has only pushed Saurabh and his team to keep innovating at a good pace and bring the best for users. While the likes of Zynga and Rovio from outside and 99Games, Ibibo, Games2win and several other Indian companies are performing well in the mobile gaming world, the following fact keeps Sarabh away from much worries:
The number of reviews that Octro has on Google play is more than the number of downloads that their next competitor has on Google play.
Saurabh believes that with the current pipeline of products and the way his team has been maturing as a gaming company, Octro is on the right track to make it big. He is bullish about the market (gaming) and is also keen to look at markets they should grow into, besides India. Octro is also exploring other genres of games.Carrom, a multiplayer carrom launched by Octro was topping the trending apps in Google Play. Unlike card games, it’s from a different genre. Saurabh believes that these games would help the company grow in the market. This year, he’s also looking at increasing their marketing spends and not relying solely on organic growth.
What you should know about Octro
Octro claims that it is not fixated on a product or technology. The 50-member team is keen to make people notice that they are maturing as a gaming company. Saurabh says,
As a company, we realize our limitations and we constantly want to learn and grow. When we are hiring, we are not looking out for someone with the great gaming experience, but prefer people who have what it takes to learn. We want somebody who sees every day as a new chapter to learn and grow, and that's what I want in everyone.
Octro is open to explore integration/partnering opportunities. They are planning to open up their platform as EIR program targeted at getting individual developers to come build for Octro. All the support, including operations, server support, and graphics with modeling will be provided by the company. An entrepreneur can just walk into the company and build a game with Octro.
Not many people get it right at first go and though it might appear like Saurabh has, he has also had his share of experiences and learning before tasting success. What keeps him going is the thrill he gets at Octro, which in his own words is
Building technology that is touching everybody.
Octro has decided to share 50% of revenue from selected in-app purchase items to PM’s National Relief Fund’s contribution to Nepal earthquake relief victims.
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