The gamble in gaming

By | May 10, 2010

It is no more only ‘time’ that Indians are investing in gaming, now it is money too. Be it the famous ‘FarmVille’ on Facebook or the ‘T20 Fever’ of Indiagames—the culture of spending real currency in online games is picking up.

Facebook has encouraged social gaming culture globally with games like ‘FarmVille’, ‘Poker’, ‘Mafia Wars’, ‘FishVille’ and ‘Cafeworld’. From its total population of 400 million users on Facebook, about 200 million are hooked on to ‘FarmVille’. Any developer can build their applications on Facebook.

“Applications and games in particular have grown rapidly over the past two years. Today, 70% of our users engage with platform applications, and more than a million developers from more than 180 countries have created applications on Facebook,” says Elizabeth Linder, who handles international communications and public policy at Facebook.

Zynga, a San Francisco-based social gaming company which is very popular on Facebook is the developer behind the game ‘FarmVille’. The game is like a guilty pleasure where the user has the option to spend money to make his farm more attractive than other neighbours on Facebook. He spends money on seeds, trees, animals, buildings, decorations, vehicles, and more land using ‘farm coins’, the generic money of FarmVille (which is earned by selling crops) or ‘farm cash’ (which the player earns at a rate of one dollar per experience level). All these start from costing Rs 5. Though the western countries remain the major spend thrifts here, Indians too are setting their pace.

Shan Kadavil, country manager, Zynga India believes that the potential of India’s online community towards virtual currency is very high. “India’s consumer spending patterns are increasing, making the potential for the sale of virtual goods in social games, very high. We are very excited to offer Zynga games to Indian users given this rapid growth and market potential,” he says. The company informs that 90% of its revenue comes from the sale of virtual goods. However, only 1-5 % of its users engage in direct pay of virtual goods, it says.

Simultaneously, large gaming companies have launched different games across all genres to boost the involvement of 85 million PC literate users in India, of which 41% actively play games. With the recent IPL fever and T20 series underway, Indiagames has entered into a multi-year contract with IPL and launched a game ‘T20 Fever’. This game allowed players to make their own IPL team…

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