India’s Empower Labs aspires to be the next Niantic Labs, developer of the latest sensation Pokémon Go

21st Jul 2016
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Are you eagerly waiting for Pokémon Go to be released in India? At this instant, the app-based Augmented Reality (AR) video game is being used more than Tinder, according to data acquired by SimilarWeb. While people around the world are craving a release in their country, Hyderabad-based Empower Labs has been trying to bring the AR gaming experience to life through their flagship product ‘Delta T’.

Empower-Labs

Source: Flickr

Empower Labs is a joint venture by three founders, Krishna Milan Rao, Karthik Chandra Isola and Nelvin Joseph. Wanting to bring Immersive experiences onto everyday devices, Krishna reached out to Karthik, a close friend with an entrepreneurial background, and Nelvin through a mutual acquaintance. Nelvin earlier built Artin Dynamics, a startup delving into Artificial Intelligence, from the ground up. That’s how the founding team of Empower Labs came together to bring out the AR experience to the gaming community. The explosive success of Pokémon Go gives us a chance to revisit how we see the AR platform. Our world is moving closer towards more personal, interactive and immersive experiences. And Empower Labs is launching the Delta T game in July, promising to bring these experiences first to India, Singapore, and New Zealand. Delta T is India’s first Augmented Reality Mobile MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game. When gamers log on to Delta T, the game starts from their GPS location. Your location is locked in as your battlefield and rival players within the radius can challenge you to a real-time battle. The dynamic map of Delta T gives you a new battlefield based on your new location. Enthusiasts can sign up for a private beta on the Delta T game website.

The explosive success of Pokémon Go gives us a chance to revisit how we see the AR platform. Our world is moving closer towards more personal, interactive and immersive experiences. And Empower Labs is launching the Delta T game in July, promising to bring these experiences first to India, Singapore, and New Zealand. Delta T is India’s first Augmented Reality Mobile MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game. When gamers log on to Delta T, the game starts from their GPS location. Your location is locked in as your battlefield and rival players within the radius can challenge you to a real-time battle. The dynamic map of Delta T gives you a new battlefield based on your new location. Enthusiasts can sign up for a private beta on the Delta T game website.

Augmented Reality Market

Augmented reality mobile gaming apps are poised to reach 420 million downloads by 2019, according to Juniper Research. The mobile gaming market today generates close to $36.9 billion in revenue annually, of which the APAC territories (the Asia Pacific region) account for 47 percent according to NewZoo. India remains on the verge of a boom in online gaming, owing to the growing penetration of mobiles in India and new 4G players entering the market promising faster and better connectivity. The free to play feature of AR games will appeal to users as they could experience AR content without paying a premium price.

These AR games can also promote social interaction and physical movement in the real world, making it appealing to even fitness enthusiasts looking to have some fun during their workout.

Empower Labs has partnered with the creative team of the internationally acclaimed movie ‘Baahubali’, headed by S.S Karthikeya, son of S.S Rajamouli (Director of Baahubali) for the game’s visual creations.

The AR gaming industry is still at a nascent stage and the biggest competition for Delta T will come from Ingress and Pokémon Go, both games published by Niantic Labs. Father.io, still in the beta stage, is also a possible competitor in this segment. For now, there is no competition locally, as Delta T is India’s very first game in the AR domain.

areality

Image : Shutterstock

Business Model & Funding

Delta T will be launched with a free to play model with In-App Purchases (IAP) as the primary revenue source. IAP will help speed up the pace of gameplay and can spice up the user experience by introducing additional elements. After reaching a significant user base, Empower Labs believes brand placements could be another revenue stream. They believe AR offers brands a unique positioning to engage users with interactive content. These strategic brand placements and interactions with the brands can be incorporated as part of the gameplay. In the long run, merchandising, comics and apparel can be released for the dedicated gaming community.

India poses a significant challenge as Indian audiences are not known to opt for In-App Purchases regularly. Hence IAP revenue could be mostly from matured markets that have a high percentage of paying users. For the first beta launch in India, Singapore and New Zealand, there are plans to restrict the invites to 10,000 users with 4,000 people registering. The initial funding, Rs 3 crore, has gone into research and development for the game in addition to the game’s creative team and the production of initial trailers.

Culture and Future Goals

Currently, they are a team of 23 ‘empowerers’ and the team is still growing across diverse verticals with a great need for people with AR domain expertise. The intrapreneurial culture with a flat hierarchy gives teams autonomy for doing what needs to be done.

The Delta T game is scheduled to be launched globally by December 2016. The team is expecting about 2.5 million downloads globally with about 500,000 active users and plans to localize content for the non-English speaking markets such as China, Japan and South Korea to tap into their huge gaming communities. They are targeting a revenue stream of around $4 million towards the end of 2017. The numbers are ambitious and so are their goals. As screens become even closer to our lives with AR, businesses are making grand plans to catch our attention.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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