The games industry tends to focus on how it’s impossible to get China to play by Western rules, but a growing number of people are also trying to work out how they can make a profit out of India as the subcontinent’s rapid modernisation continues.
At the forefront of that movement are Indian media conglomerate the UTV Group, who now own Ignition Entertainment. (Ignition are still forging ahead with El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, the biblical-themed third-person action game directed by Takeyasu Sawaki, who worked as an artist on cult classic Okami.)
Ronnie Screwala is the chairman of UTV Group, and gave a recent interview with the BBC (who pitched the story as an Indian firm releasing a video game). While Screwala was quite clear he sees India becoming a nation of gamers in the future, he rubbished the idea of consoles taking off in the country.
India has yet to get into the cultural habit of video gaming [...] and equally important is that the Indian psyche is not used to paying for content. People were very used to getting pirated copies at a fraction of the cost you would expect to pay in the west. To change that takes a decade, you are not going to change that overnight.
Where have we seen that before? Time will tell, obviously, but you have to wonder what it signifies for the direction the industry will end up taking overall, if two of its biggest new target markets can’t entertain traditional Western business models. Handset penetration has skyrocketed in India; it looks like social and mobile gaming is about to get yet another giant revenue stream.