Even as Bollywood film Krrish 3 continues to break box-office records, the superhero is battling villain Kaya and other mutants not just on the big screen but on thousands of smartphones as well.
The Krrish 3 game, launched a few months ago, rose up the charts at Android and Apple app stores recently with over 2 million downloads globally, in line with Bollywood blockbusters' increasing influence in the rapidly growing world of mobile phone gaming.
Krrish 3, Dhoom 3, Chennai Express and Race 2 are among the most popular Indian smartphone games this year, generating downloads in the millions on the Google Play and Apple Store. And they are generating revenues through the 'freemium' model, where the game is free but in-app purchases are charged.
"One of the most attractive factors of such games is that these are characters Indians can identify with," said Vineet Durani, director of Windows phone business group at Microsoft, which has backed games such as Dhoom 3 and Krrish 3. Most games from abroad don't have storylines that are relevant to India, he said. India is estimated to have nearly 40 million Android phones and 3 million iPhones, and users spend an average 15 minutes a day on gaming.
With Bollywood being pretty much the only source of heroes and villains, it accounts for nearly 15% of the Rs1,500-crore gaming business in the country, according to a recent KPMG-FICCI report.
This report forecasts the gaming market will soar to Rs4,200 crore by 2017. One reason for such upbeat expectations is that people in the 25-35 year age group - most of whom would be working and have disposable income - are among the most avid gamers. According to the Nielsen Informate Mobile Insights survey in July, gaming is one of the most popular activities on smartphones for this age group. Film producers now see gaming as a revenue source besides being an effective marketing tool for their films.
Bollywood games have started to pick up pace because of affordable smartphones, said Neeraj Roy, managing director and CEO of Hungama Digital Media Entertainment, which created the Krrish 3 game in partnership with Gameshastra. "Since gamers are being exposed to high-quality international games, they expect the same quality of service from Indian games as well, raising the cost of Indian games that typically used to cost a lot less a few years ago," Roy said.
Hungama and Gameshastra are currently developing games around the iconic 1975 film Sholay and Rajinikanth's upcoming Tamil movie Kochadaiiyaan. "We will give Sholay a whole new creative spin and have three-four sequences from the movie," Roy said.
Filmmakers license their titles and characters to game developers on a revenue-sharing basis. Bollywood games typically follow the format of popular endless games. For example, Dhoom 3 is an endless bike ride similar to the popular Temple Run. The game was launched on October 25 in the Windows Phone Marketplace and debuted a month later on platforms such as iOS and Android.
Rohith Bhat, CEO at 99Games that partnered with YRF Films to create the Dhoom 3 game, says it broke even within a month of its release. The Chennai Express game, launched on July 24, received 3 million downloads across all platforms, according to Disney UTV.
Fukrey: Rooftop Runner, Barfi, ABCD, Ra.One and Kai Po Che have all had game offshoots. The games are marketing tools for studios, said Prashant Singh, managing director (media), Nielsen India. "Companies are trying to up the hype of movies by launching games prior to the release of films," he said.
But producing quality games adds to the cost. "Depending on the quality and graphics of the mobile game, it could cost Rs 5-20 lakh to develop a game," said Sameer Ganapathy, chief operating officer-digital at Disney UTV. The Dhoom 3 game cost nearly Rs 40 lakh to develop.