3 things we learned at India's NASSCOM Game Developer's Conference 2015

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3 things we learned at India's NASSCOM Game Developer's Conference 2015

From 5 - 7 November, Pune - India's ninth largest city and location of the Aga Khan Palace - became the temporary headquarters for India's burgeoning game development scene as the NASSCOM Game Developer's Conference 2015 came to town.

PocketGamer.biz was in attendance, too.

Hotting up

We attended talks, played games, and chatted with developers in an attempt to soak in as much local insight as possible.

And while a few days is never going to be enough to get a handle on such a vast and varied industry in a yet vaster and more varied country, we gave it a good attempt.

So click through below to read our three most significant learnings from being at the conference.

Click here to view the list »
  • 1 Indian games are improving fast

    2015 saw the third yearly edition of the The NASSCOM Gaming Forum Awards, showcasing the best of Indian game development across four categories.

    Among the judging panel for the Upcoming Game of the Year category, on which PocketGamer.biz was represented, it quickly became clear that the quality of Indian games was rising year-on-year at a quite unbelievable rate.

    Everyone at NASSCOM, as well as developers themselves, agreed that the games showcased in 2013 were almost unrecognisable from those on show in 2015, giving the judges a tricky task in pinning down a winner.

    While it remained an oddly mixed bag of barely-started and soon-to-be-published products, games such as eventual winner The Light Inside Us showed that Indian game creation is developing not only as a business, but also creatively.

    There's great variation, too.

    The Reliance-published Salvation Ultimatum is a motorcycle-based shooter, Stay, Mum is an intriguing take on single-parent families, and Mr. Zipsack's Adventure is an extremely polished twist on match-3.

    Not only is the market in India quickly maturing, but so too are its developers.

  • 2 The grass is not always greener

    As western publishers continue to be captivated by the potential of an increasingly smartphone-equipped Indian population, many Indian developers conversely view the US and Europe as the road to success.

    Indeed, according to NASSCOM, 75 percent of them are developing for the global market.

    But there is another way.

    On leaving Reliance to become CEO of Nazara, Manish Agarwal - one of India's most long-term gaming evangelists - has effectively chosen to focus on India ahead of worldwide publishing, and has proven that can be a successful strategy.

    Nazara deals primarily with India-specific licences - including movies, cricketers, and the nation's favourite cartoon series Chhota Bheem - as well as working with Zeptolab to culturalise Cut the Rope.

    NASSCOM estimates the Indian smartphone install base to be at 200 million by the end of 2015, with over 100 million in growth every year thereafter, so it's understandable that western publishers are queuing up for a slice.

    However, with the exception of Nazara, seemingly few Indian studios are creating games specifically for their own market

    Missed opportunity, or an admission that the market is not yet ready?

    This remains to be seen, but with the increasing western interest it seems that Indian developers with tech smarts and cultural awareness will quickly become hot property.

  • 3 A success years in the making

    NGDC 2015 felt like a big moment of validation for the Indian game development scene.

    The games were better than ever, there were some excellent talks, and there were international speakers and press present.

    All in all, it felt like the culmination of six years' hard work behind the scenes by the NASSCOM Gaming Forum, and a vindication of everyone who had ever had to justify the significance of video games in a traditionally IT-focused trade association.

    Culturally, gaming in India hasn't reached the point of ubiquity - or, indeed, respectability - that it has elsewhere, with only a tiny minority of Indian gamers aged over 45.

    This is the kind of event that helps to alter those preconceptions, with over 1300 delegates and more than 70 speakers coming from far and wide to prove that game development in India can be an exciting and thriving business.

    See you next year!

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.