New study suggests that girls can be motivated to explore programming and create rich gameplay experiences by building on their skills in literacy and storytelling.A growing number of gaming companies are eyeing celebrity partnerships as a smart customer-acquisition strategy, eliminating the need for spending on excessive marketing. Their focus is on creating strong IP’s and gameplay.

Mumbai-based mobile gaming company Nazara Games recently inked a multi-year partnership deal with Bollywood celebrity Hrithik Roshan, with plans of spending up to $100,000 (Rs 68 lakh) to create each game, aiming to see five million monthly active users on the game.

“Gaming partnerships with celebrities doesn’t always pay off, the objectives need to be clear, out of 10 games released, only one may survive in the long run and be profitable,” said Manish Agrawal, CEO of Nazara Games. “Being in nascent stages in India, a winner in this category is yet to be seen.”

Gaming company founders cite American reality star and socialite Kim Kardashian’s game as a success due to the IP being strong as well as celebrity engagement being high. However, American musician Katy Perry’s game ended up being a failure.

“In order for the game to succeed, it’s essential for the celebrity to be invested in the digital medium and have gamification qualities.

Indian celebrities aren’t involved with the end user,” said Alok Kejriwal, founder of Games2win.

Games2win steers away from partnerships with Bollywood or Indian cricket celebrities, preferring to opt for international Youtube celebrities, musicians or the like. The company claims to have seen Rs 25 lakh in revenue during the first two weeks of launching Miranda Sings game on the Playstore.

It aims to see Rs 1 crore in revenue during the 2016-17 financial year. “Youtube star Miranda Sings or Tyga, such partnerships work out because they are constantly interacting with the end user. Indian celebrities on the other hand are likely to lose interest a short period after the launch of the game,” adds Kejriwal.

According to Nazara’s Agrawal and Rohith Bhat, founder of 99Games, the problem lies in the fact that Indian smartphone gamers are not ready to pay for virtual products and it will take time for the market to mature.

“It’s difficult to predict the kind of revenue that could come in, but I think in the next 6-7 years, some of these celebrity-partnered games that have a strong IP and gameplay might make over $50 million or even close to $100 million,” adds Agrawal.
When Nazara Games launched a game with cricket celebrity Virat Kohli, within the first three weeks, they claimed to have seen over a 1 million downloads, indicative of high consumer sampling levels.
Another recent partnership involves 99Games and Yash Raj Films multi-year deal to launch their product, ‘FAN: The Game’, featuring Bollywood celebrity Shahrukh Khan. Bhat estimates that they will see 20 million downloads and 3 billion minutes of gameplay within three months of the game’s launch in April.
The company eyes more celebrity gaming partnerships in the future. “In the long run, five years ahead, celebrity gaming partnerships will at least have a 5-10% market share of the $3-billion gaming industry in India,” adds Bhat.

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