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The Rise Of Interactive Media, Games

To understand the disruption that follows in the wake of fast-moving user-generated content, experts from the gaming industry explain how this form of media has become a mass product, requiring the right content strategy to succeed

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The digital world is booming with the proliferation of digital technologies, which have triggered structural alterations in the media and entertainment industry. India has also caught up this trend with a massive increase in mobile game downloads in 2020 — totalling nearly 7.3 billion, or around 17 per cent of the global total.

Media is one of the toughest sectors due to the varied competition. In this age of data and arguably a flat India, where even Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets are consuming content on mobile devices, various factors come together to continue to propel the growth of the gaming sector in India — the use of immersive media being one of the factors. Video games are at the pinnacle of being mass products and personal experiences at once. Gaming options, character customisation, extra levels and maps, collaborative online gaming, and many other features are the same in individual games. However, they create differentiated, personal experiences for millions of people.  

Gaming & Media Tech

Video games have cracked the code of being a mass media product and a personalised experience. Over time, the scope for interactive media like video games is increasing especially in India, where the smartphone penetration and cheap data cost are at an all-time high. Gaming companies are leveraging technology to provide an immersive experience that matches the needs of their users. Varun Ganjoo, Co-founder & Marketing Director, Baazi Games says, “Our game engine runs on our native AI and ML, which delivers an enhanced UI\UX, helping us cater to not just gamers but also the non-gamer community.”

Ganjoo goes on about the app PokerBaazi — how the company has specifically focused on psychological aspects like the colour theme and UI element that create a recall value in the minds of users so they do not have to invest time in understanding the text written and instead look at the colour and understand what the action might be associated with it.

“Our apps have been designed keeping in mind the insightful and interactive side of communication that will be able to bond better with our users, keep them hooked and focused on the game, also at the same time ensure that they keep coming back to play more,” Ganjoo adds.

Through the platform, Baazi Games wants to bring the gaming community closer and make it more inclusive. “In fact, we can already see the change pacing up with people socialising in our platform while playing poker, rummy or any other fantasy sport. We see a lot of exchange of conversation among the players and feel happy about it since any game needs to be taken in the right spirit and we are glad that a platform like ours is helping in building a community of its own,” says Ganjoo.

Ajay Lakhotia, Founder, StockGro says, “Gaming startups are primarily focused on GenX and GenZ and is an evolving space. Unlike SE Asia market, gaming has taken a long time to gain a foothold in India. Media and gaming startups shifting away from age-old long-form content and arcade games with ads powering their revenue and exploring innovative revenue model would attract more investor attention.” Lakhotia believes there is disruption in the sector with power shifting from production house generated content to user-generated content and small studios rolling out a short form for a different generation of consumers.

Where Art Meets Tech

The integration of digital media technology allows richer content and forms of animation and brings more real visual enjoyment to the audience. Digital media provides easy access to an environment that is familiar to the audience.

“Video games, which are one of the key components of digital media entertainment, provide a storytelling ability that is interactive and immersive. It allows the user to take an active role in the story’s development and hence enriching the overall visual experience,” states Manvendra Shukul, CEO, Lakshya, a game art creation company.  

Shukul believes that a visual medium is always more attractive to any audience and with the increasing penetration of smartphones, the nature of content consumption is changing in India. There is a large size of Indian audience now that is looking for a newer and more relatable entertainment experience.  

“Moreover, with an exponential increase in video games consumption, large developers and publishers are looking at creating art and animation content for the Indian audience and that is leading to a big increase in media tech growth. The content created for video games is one of the most sought after content and consists mostly of art and animation,” Shukul adds.

When art and animation demand grows, the media tech companies providing the technologies to create art and animation also put in that extra effort in growing/ improving their technologies and making it available to a larger developer community, Shukul further states.

Content is King

In today’s times, content is the biggest differentiator as well as one of the most trusted modes for connecting brands to their target group. StockGro has been driving a personalised experience for the user in his investment journey based on his knowledge of the finance market and evaluating the user’s investment performance in the app. Users are connected with the right set of influencers and educators on the platform to help them learn and grow in their investment journey. This is how content works for the app.

Lakhotia explains how content exactly works for their social investment gaming app. He says, “Our users are mostly new-to-trade investors who are here to learn market fundamentals. Our focus is to help the user with simplified content which helps him understand investment and trading strategies while educating her with fundamentals. Content delivery in a format that is easily consumable becomes a critical part of our product strategy.”

Lakhotia agrees that content is a critical aspect of any social app. “Given that our users learn through social engagement and sharing knowledge perks with others including all the content published by StockGro for users to consume and share. We would still call ourselves a social trading platform instead of a media platform,” he adds.

Ganjoo delineates the current content strategy of Baazi Games. “Our content strategy is to educate the audience and make them understand how we qualify as a skill-based gaming platform. While we do see this perception shift taking place, we feel the content has a greater role to play here. Most of our content is directed towards understanding our users better, a deep dive into their choices, patterns, and likings, and accordingly, coming up with out-of-the-box ideas.

“At the same time, it is imperative for brands like us to come up with quirky, engaging, and interesting content. Our strategy is to maintain two-way communication with our users regularly through our social media handles for each segment — PokerBaazi, BalleBaazi and RummyBaazi,” he says.

Shukul gives content the credit and says, “Content is the reason why we exist. Though it is not our content strategy, the content strategy of our clients impacts us. We must ensure that we are always geared up to support our clients in executing their content strategies.”

Speaking about the challenges while implementing the right content strategy, Shukul adds, “As a matter of fact, relevant talent has always been a bottleneck or a showstopper for us in our endeavour to create more and more content. So, we are putting strategies in place to ensure that we have the significant talent to do justice to the expectations that our clients have and help implement their content creation strategies.”