The games licensing industry is a crucial component of the $ 125 million (nearly Rs 700 crore) domestic licensing market and with the entry of popular games and characters at regular intervals, no retailer wants to miss out on this opportunity.
The industry potential lies in the sheer number of youth, their spending capacity and the growing number of smartphone users here. Kids, teens and adults are strongly connected to games, through Android, Xbox or PC. And, easy available of free games is fuelling this growth.
Owing to aforementioned factors, international properties including Temple Run, Angry Birds and others are betting big with their games and corresponding merchandise in Indian market. And, players like Ink, King Digital Entertainment and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) are soon looking to foray into merchandise space.
Jiggy George, Founder and CEO, Dream Theatre, says, “It’s definitely the space to watch out for in India from a merchandise play perspective, as all leading gaming companies are keen to enter here.”
Dream Theatre is the official licensee of Rovio Entertainment, which owns Angry Birds property. The company has launched exclusive range of merchandise featuring Angry Birds Classic, Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Go.
The current scenario Temple Run, Angry Birds and Dhoom 3 The Game (Yash Raj Films) merchandise is available in the market along with their games, while many others are just operating through digital games. For example, Candy Crush Saga (King Digital Entertainment) game is already popular here, but its merchandise is not launched in India so far. Though, its licensee ‘Happy Socks’ is successfully operating in India through its other range of merchandise.
Rakesh Pant, Owner, Happy Socks India, says, “We are relatively new to Indian market and our priority is to establish the brand first. We would be launching Candy Crush Saga merchandise in near future.” Likewise, Subway Surfers (Ink) and WWE2K14 (WWE, which sells through its licensee ‘Take2’) would soon launch their merchandise; however, their digital games have already received millions of downloads.
In addition to this, Chhota Bheem game has received over 4 million downloads and counting is still on, shares Samir Jain, Director, Green Gold Animation. The company has plans to launch games around Mighty Raju and Arjun characters too, shortly. YRF owned ‘Dhoom3 The Game’ that saw over 12 million downloads worldwide in first four months of release, licensed products across a wide range of categories that includes apparel, accessories, electronics , novelty products, home improvement and so on.
Rohit Sobti, VP, Licensing and Merchandising, YRF, says, “The merchandise was not developed keeping the game in mind, but automatically represented game with the common agenda they shared."Highlighting the future plans, Sobti adds, "We are focusing on the complete new plan for other movies, having a gaming potential in India and worldwide."
Ordeals for licensees The biggest and foremost challenge for gaming merchandise companies is, keeping their game and merchandise repository refreshed, as people get over with games quite fast, and managing old stock becomes a challenge for them. Addressing the same, George says, “Merchandise can keep up by better and creative product innovation, which brings the game alive on merchandise. Besides, to keep the fans engaged, greater product availability across categories and refreshed designs is must.
We fortunately do not have significant old stock problems.” Striking similar views, Sobti says, “The licensees have become smarter when it comes to game licensing, as they work more on generic theme of the movie which gives longevity to the product.”
He further highlights that the company has developed special style guide for Dhoom “Cult of Dhoom” which covered generic themes about the movie and licensees can easily develop product range around it. Clearly, game licensing presents a great opportunity for retailers, if promoted with right product strategies.