Gaming is swiftly making its presence felt both as a digital property as well as licensing category and sensing the change, investors are welcoming game developers with open hands and huge funds. While entertainment dominates the licensing industry globally, an interesting phenomenon has emerged in the last few years and no retailer wants to miss upon the opportunity. Gaming – the one of the latest categories on board is swiftly making its presence felt both as a digital property as well as licensing category. Started in early 90s with Mario and Contra, this sector has seen tremendous growth in short span of time with Smartphones and dedicated gaming systems taking over the market, games being derived from movies or celebrities and being referred to as digital properties.
The fillip to licensing in gaming industry Temple Run, Candy Crush and Angry birds, when appeared on screens, took the industry by storm while offering the much needed thrust to it. Leading the brigade is of Angry Birds, a property that debuted in 2009 as a casual puzzle game and soon became not just one of the most played and downloaded games, but also a licensing phenomenon. “The Angry Birds Licensing and Merchandising story and its phenomenal success speaks volumes of the sheer potential of the licensing story in India; it cuts across age groups and more importantly geography,” says Jiggy George, Founder and CEO, Dream Theatre who represents Angry Birds, Candy Crush and Talking Tom in India.
For George, Angry Birds seem to be an obvious choice. Rovio – the paren company of Angry Birds, had 30 per cent of its revenues coming from licensed merchandise as early as 2011 and today Angry Birds sits among the top 20 licensed property list with licensing revenues in excess of US$ 500 million. “The answer lies in getting the product, price and availability matrix right and we are very thrilled with Angry Birds growth story in India,” adds George while sharing the success story of the game. Worldwide some other digital properties pushing the boundries successfully are Moshi Monsters, Candy Crush, Talking Tom, Temple Run Subway Surfers, Star doll etc. The strengths of this genre in licensing lie in cross-platform, mainly iOS and android based games, increasing exposure to internet and zero dependence on channels like theatricals or TV properties.
Once the popularity spreads and fans get hands on, the addiction traverse to buying licensed merchandise including stationary, accessories, collectibles etc. while apparel being the hot-selling products. Further, the popularity spreading fast at digital platform also adds to the value of IP. There is a dedicated digital audience at hand, who the property owners can communicate with in no time, about new products, promotions and also gain marketing insights from directly. Angry Birds is one of the largest licensing programmes in India with 500+ products across 10 categories and available in a 1500+ stores and leading MBOs and on all major portals.
Gaming as extension In times when games are becoming IPs, there also exists an opportunity to exploit this industry as a tool for expansion. Movies including the likes of Prince of Persia, Dennis the Menace, Mad Max, Lord of the Rings and Bollywood flicks such as Dhoom2, Ra-One, Krissh have been successfully converted into digital games. While West exploits the industry as extension tool, in India, gaming industry is seen more as a promotional strategy before release of movies. Abhinav Chokhavatia, Founder & CEO, Zatun says, “Normally what happens is that when a lot of movies come out, games also come in market around those movies, which help promote the movie as well. But most of the times, games are released just an addition and not much thought is given into it. While in west, when a movie is released – for instance ‘Lord of the rings’, the game is given equal treatment as the movie is. So, the licensing deal for gaming takes place almost at the time when movie production begins.” A prominent reason for movie-based games not being successful in India is the availability of games limited to Smartphone only and not across platforms. Another factors is the Rs. 50 plus transaction-point which does not attract many consumers.
Decoding the future Globally, 44 per cent of smartphones and tablets are used for gaming and by 2018 the count of mobile game users is expected to reach one billion. More than 100 million apps are downloaded every day, with games being the most popular category among paid apps With rising smartphone and tablet penetration, the mobile gaming industry in India is expected to touch Rs 2,620 crore by 2019, with a year-on-year growth of 20 per cent, according to a recent report by FICCI-KPMG. However, the sector must do its bit to stay on top as it requires constant innovations and additions to not just grow the market share, but to keep the fans engaged, it needs marketing innovations to stay top of mind in the ever-changing digital world and from a licensing perspective needs a strong programme and strategy. One needs also needs to drive awareness across retailers, both brick and mortar as well as online, because they may not be in tune with the latest property making waves among consumers – that last mile awareness becomes critical for making digital properties available to fans yearning for them.”