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Hyderabad's game for gaming

The gaming industry in the city is ready for the next level. Hyderabad Times finds out how it's attracting international gaming majors.

Hyderabad is emerging as one of the country's most prominent gaming destinations. And it's not only about counter-strikers and gaming tournaments. Game development , one of the most fascinating industries, is spreading its roots in the city.

The sector, which is worth $47.5 million, at present, is expected to touch $425 million by 2010 at a compounded annual rate of 72 per cent. And the city seems on its way to be a significant contributor to this growth, which is predicted by NASSCOM (National Association for Software and Services Companies). According to a NASSCOM report, the industry has a potential of touching $730 million in the long run. The last two years have witnessed many new gamedevelopment companies in the city.

According to NASSCOM regional director, Col Ramachandran, the future is certainly promising. "Alongside Bangalore, Hyderabad stands second when it comes to gaming in India. If we can leverage the opportunities to our advantage, the city can certainly seize a major chunk of the $22 billion global gaming market."

Fuelling factors

K Narayanan, India operations head of Gameshastra, a Hyderabad-based company, believes that the city has an environment conducive for the industry to thrive. He observes that game-development has been a natural progression from the well-established animation industry , here. "High-skilled animators and good urban amenities are the city's biggest assets. While the talented workforce generates world-class content, companies are setting up centres in Hyderabad because they find its infrastructure better than many other toptier cities in the country," says Narayanan.

"Hyderabad has a very good talentpool for gaming, which has drawn global gaming giants like Microsoft, EA (Jamadat) and Gameloft. Their presence will surely boost the Hydrerabad's image as a game-development destination ," explains Prady Kuna, CEO, Syna -G , a gaming company. Interestingly, even Tollywood is fuelling the gaming scene. Companies are collaborating with filmmakers to develop movie-based games. The latest example is Sivaji, which has inspired a game.

Growing local market

Traditionally, most of the game-development work done by companies has been in the form of back-end assignments from overseas clients. Taking up outsourced work from international gaming majors is more lucrative than developing games, indigenously . So, are gaming companies in the city ready to take the challenge? Maruti Sankar, MD Seven Hills Technologies, believes that it's certainly risky. He explains, "Companies take up back-end animation assignments. It's not very lucrative but a safer investment. But game development is a high-risk-high-returns business. Normally a PC game takes two to three years to design. If the game shapes up well, the returns are high, but when it fails, the investment goes sour." In the recent years, though, the growth in the domestic market has inspired many indigenous developers. India has a gaming mindset, which is waiting to explode. The fact that 54 per cent of the Indian population is below 25, promises fertile grounds for the indigenous gaming industry. Mobile gaming and online gaming are expected to drive the domestic gaming market . "Hyderabad is among India's top four cities in terms of internet-penetration , with 2 lakh registered users. We expect this number to go up to half a million by the end of the financial year," says Rohit Sharma, COO, Zapak.com, describing the potential in the city.

Gaming, a dream-career

Flourishing business has created many openings for qualified personnel across the board, from programmers to game testers. For many like Sharath Kumar, playing games has turned into a full-time profession. "As gametesters , we play every level of a game thousands of times to ensure quality. It's an absolute pleasure for someone who loves gaming!" beams Sharath.

But designing games is no child's play, informs Sumit Mehra, a program manager with the casual games division of Microsoft. "Developers work on supersophisticated softwares that combine artificial intelligence and graphics. Developing games is a very challenging job. One needs to have a deep understanding of various domains - mathematics, physics and networking. And yes, one has to be really passionate about creating cutting-edge games," says Sumit.

No child's play!

The gaming industry in India is worth $47.5 million, at present. NASSCOM predicts that it will touch $425 million by 2010 at a compounded annual rate of 72 per cent

Hyderabad is among India's top four cities, in terms of internet-penetration , with 2 lakh registered users.This is encouraging game-developers catering to foreign markets to explore a good market potential in the city itself

Flourishing gaming business in the city has created many openings for qualified personnel across the board, from programmers to game testers

The fact that 54 per cent of the Indian population is below 25, promises fertile grounds for the gaming industry.

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