[App Fridays] Ludo King’s sensational rise as casual board games come back during lockdown
A homegrown gaming app is taking the internet by storm. It’s a rare occurrence, and one worth documenting.
Ludo King, developed by Navi Mumbai-based Gametion Technologies, has ranked as India’s #1 gaming app on both Android and iOS.
Gametion publishes other titles like Sudoku King, Carrom King, and Color King too. But Ludo King has been its crown jewel since 2018 when it became the ‘Best Casual Game’ on Google Play Store. It is available as both mobile and desktop versions.
Ludo King adds a modern touch to the royal game of Pachisi, which used to be played between Indian kings and queens in ancient times. App downloads have surged past 300 million cumulatively, and users have tripled since the lockdown began.
Sensor Tower projects that Ludo King raked in revenue of $300,000 in March alone riding on the coronavirus lockdown, which forced people to stay indoors.
Homebound users are increasingly hooked to the casual board game that not only serves as a throwback to their childhoods, but also keeps them engaged indoors. The fact that it can also be played offline has added to the spike in usage.
Ludo King has surpassed top gaming titles like Candy Crush Saga, PUBG, Clash of Clans, Subway Surfers, Temple Run, and others in monthly active users in India.
So, what is it about the game that people are finding irresistible?
By Gametion’s own admission, this is the “golden age of internet-driven sociable board games”. These carry nostalgia and also help strengthen family bonding.
Add to this, the graphics, which successfully recreate the classic look and the feel of the age-old dice game. The app also provides multiple language options, making it all the more mass for Indian consumers.
A player YourStory spoke to said she enjoys Ludo King because “it’s simple and doesn’t take up too much mind space”. Especially during a crisis, when outdoor entertainment options have dried up, casual board games are coming to the rescue.
Describing the sudden explosion in popularity, Gametion wrote on its blog:
“We naturally seek a social setting for leisure and refreshment. The new breed of mobile board games connects people online. Even the unsociable gets an opportunity to connect with strangers and share a time that helps them disconnect from their self-contained lives to an entertaining gaming interaction.”
Gaming modes and features
What makes Ludo King more attractive and addictive than its peers is the availability of multiple modes, themes, and an array of interactive features.
There are four player modes — online multiplayer, play with friends, play versus computer, local multiplayer. There is a six-player Ludo board too. The app also comes with ‘Snakes and Ladders’ on seven different game board variations.
Players have to complete ‘missions’ to get access to live ‘themes’. The new improved themes are vivid and are topped with interfaces and audiovisuals that make for a compelling gaming experience. Themes have, in fact, turned out to be the most popular feature with users.
In the ‘Nature’ theme, for instance, you get a Ludo board made of pavement blocks that are embedded in a grassy field surrounded by plantation, shrubs, woods, and butterflies. The pawns resemble living creatures with expressive faces and the dice is made of a beetle that ruffles its wings to display the points when you roll it.
The audio of the theme includes chirps of birds, sounds of breeze, and gentle music that recreates nature in the app.
In the ‘Egypt’ theme, players are transported to the ancient land of the Pharaohs. The Ludo board is composed of limestone blocks, and Egyptian hieroglyphics are engraved on them. The pawns look like mummies, and the in-app audio adds a mysterious feel to the gaming experience.
Other themes offered by Ludo King are Disco (which also doubles up as the night mode), Pinball, Candy, and Christmas.
Some other interactive features include live chat with players, Facebook challenges for friends in a private game room, save and load game option (which allows players to resume from where they left), player statistics, and leaderboards.
In its recent app upgrade, Ludo King has also rolled out support for low-end devices. There might be a slight lag, but all features of the app are accessible.
Gametion says, “Board games definitely have many more reasons for a comeback online as different aspects of the games appeal to different people. All generations see board games as equally important as traditional video games if not more.”
Given Ludo King’s sensational growth in recent months, one can’t disagree.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta