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Help  Cricket dons a digital avatar this gaming season
Zapak, Nazara, Jump Games, Sony and Dream11 set to release games on the mobile, internet platforms to cash in on frenzy

This month, the sub-continent will host the ICC World Cup 2011 — and cashing in on the ubiquitous cricket buzz will be the Indian mobile and internet gaming industry.

“The cricket World Cup appeals to a wide audience, with even non-cricket enthusiasts getting involved. Games ideally need to be reasonably priced and should be able to touch base with the masses,” said Rohit Sharma, CEO (digital business), Reliance BIG Entertainment.

Reliance Entertainment, which owns the Zapak brand, is set to launch the official personal computer version of the Cup’s game, christened Cricket Power. The game CD pack is priced at Rs 299 and will be available both online and in stores from the second week of February.

The gaming market in India, which is growing at 30 per cent at present, is set to be valued at almost Rs 2,000 crore by 2014, according to a report by Market Research. The market is dominated by mobile gaming with a 57 per cent market share.

Sure enough, two of the leading mobile gaming businesses (Nazara Technologies and Jump Games) have their own plans in place for the World Cup, with both launching games not just for Java, but for Android devices as well.

Jump Games, the official partner of ICC for mobile gaming, has released ‘ICC World Cup 2011, Games. The games will be launched across cricket playing nations and subsequently in countries like the US that have a substantial Indian population.

“Keeping the global launch in mind, we have ensured that the game is available on the AppStore and is iPhone-compatible. The game will be priced at Rs 99 in India and $5 globally. We expect a million downloads within the month,” said Salil Bhargava, CEO, Jump Games.

Jump Games is the mobile gaming division of Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) and has seen a five-fold growth in the past few years on the back of the burgeoning mobile market.

Nazara, on the other hand, is the exclusive partner for Electronic Arts in India and is planning to cash in on the 3G upsurge. Games will be dominated by high-definition graphics which will undergo cricket technique assimilation.

“For Nazara, the spotlight will be on quality in Indian users and correct marketing through tie-ups with operators. The game will be priced at Rs 50 and we expect about 2,000 downloads in the season,” said CEO Nitish Mittersain.

Web-based gaming companies, including Dream11, which specialise in graphical fantasy cricket, will launch 50 casual cricket games next month, keeping in mind both the passionate and casual cricket fans.

A typical Dream11 user would have the option of choosing between the daily and the tour challenge, which allows the user to pick the team on a day-to-day basis or for the duration of the World Cup, respectively.

“At present, we have about 600,000 registered users, which we estimate will go up substantially during the season. What is interesting is that the one-day international (ODI) format allows the user to get more innovative with the team he chooses and the game he plays,” said Harsh Jain, managing director, Dream11.

The buzz of cashing in on the World Cup frenzy is not restricted to gaming businesses on the web and mobile phone platforms. Sony, the world’s largest gaming company and maker of the iconic PlayStation, is set to come up with its own version of World Cup games.

Sony PlayStation will launch ‘Street Championship’ a game which the company thinks will capture the spirit of cricket in the narrow Indian bylanes.

The game, which has no official alliance with the ICC World Cup, will be launched and marketed around the cricketing season this year — the ICC event followed by the Indian Premier League (IPL-4).

“We are looking at sales exceeding 120,000 units on the dual platforms of the PlayStation-II (PS-II) and the PlayStation Portable (PSP). This will open the market up to subsequent opportunities,” said Atindriya Bose, country manager, Sony Computer Entertainment India.

Gaming, which is still at a nascent stage in India looks set to benefit from the cricket extravaganza that the country has in offer over one month for its equally enthusiastic cricket buffs. After all, it is India’s unofficial national game.

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