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The game changers

Multiplayer gaming is the latest sport in town.

By Anusha Subramanian | Print Edition: July 1, 2007

Online gaming is big, but the biggest trend emerging within this sector is multiplayer gaming, or what's known in many quarters as Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming (MMOG). According to a NASSCOM report, the market for multiplayer games is over $4 billion (Rs 16,400 crore) globally and growing rapidly. In India, the market is nascent with only a few companies today targeting a Rs 20 crore market but is expected to grow to Rs 850 crore by 2010. Expectedly, there's a rush of players-backed by private equity-into this arena.

Last fortnight, IDG Ventures India and SoftBank Bodhi Investment LLC, managed by SoftBank China & India Holdings, invested over $1 million (Rs 4.1 crore) in Kreeda Games, an online multiplayer gaming company. Kreeda Games is founded by Quentin Staes-Polet, a former media & entertainment practice head for Asia Pacific with IBM, Ramesh Anumukonda, a pioneer in game production and animation in India, and Robin Alter, a digital media technology architecture expert from the us.

Prior to Kreeda Games, Games2Win, another online multiplayer gaming company promoted by Alok Kejriwal of Contests2Win, received funding worth $5 million (Rs 20.5 crore) from Clearstone Venture Advisors, a subsidiary of the us-based Clearstone Venture Partners. Other players include Level up! India, the pioneer of sorts in the country, gaminghungama.com and Zapak.com from the Reliance-ADAG stable.

"We believe that people, communities, education, technology and art will converge in online games and will make it one of the most exciting industries in the new digital Indian economy," explains Quentin Staes-Polet, CEO, Kreeda Games. "Gaming is a highly addictive entertainment option and it gives one an opportunity to be highly interactive, competitive and community-oriented," adds Rohit Sharma, CEO, Zapak.com.

Points out Venkat Mallik, Managing Director, Level up! India: "The new generation youth will no longer be glued to their television sets watching soap operas and Bollywood movies, and are changing the definition of entertainment completely. Gamers are taking over the entertainment scene."

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