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Is Shilpa Shetty's newly co-founded Viaan Studios set for success?

Leading Indian developers weight up the new studio's chances
Is Shilpa Shetty's newly co-founded Viaan Studios set for success?

Few things have set tongues a-wagging in the Indian games industry of late like the opening of new developer, Viaan Studios.

And with good reason. Being co-founded by Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty is the obvious hook for the Mumbai-based studio, but there are reasons to pay attention beyond that.

Well-positioned as the official game development arm of mobile handset manufacturer Viaan Industries, the firm has already laid out a very ambitious (and specific) roadmap for its mobile, console and PC projects going forward.

On the mobile side specifically, its first two projects are A Shot to Fame, a Glu-style celebrity experience starring Shilpa Shetty herself, and zombie-based strategy game Survival Block.

Interested to hear what other developers in the region make of Viaan Studios and its ambitions, we asked our Indian Mavens:

  • Are you excited by Viaan Studios and its vision?
  • Do you think it is well-positioned to be successful?
Laxmi  Desai-Khanolkar

Laxmi Desai-Khanolkar

CEO and co-founder at Apar Games

I am not particularly excited with the vision as I don’t see any radically different strategy to pay attention to.

They have chosen a tried and tested path to ride on Shilpa Shetty’s fanbase, which is certainly a valid approach, but not exciting in my opinion.

What will be interesting to see is if 150 million mobile gamers in India will play these high-end, free-to-play games.

I also feel there is ambiguity in the vision. Are they focusing on high-end players or mobile players? Indian players or global players?

In terms of platform, I see they want to create mobile games, triple-A console games and focus on the global market too… Whoa! Tough job on hand.

They have an existing fanbase for Shilpa Shetty, so they might get a good number of players for their Glu-ish game, but the success will really depend upon the game itself.

Yadu Rajiv

Yadu Rajiv

Game Designer and Developer

It's very interesting to see an ambitious list of projects with release dates on them for the next two years!

“I hope the financial support from Viaan Industries helps them to do something different.”
Yadu Rajiv

As for the vision, I think it is a vision that all devs share.

I think a lot of us started off with similar visions: to create awesome, original content. I sincerely hope it works out and they make really good original games, experiment and move away from tried and tested formulae.

I suppose success is a subjective term; so if their games - especially the one poised to come out in August this year - lives up to their vision, I guess we can call it a success.

I hope that the financial support and leadership from Viaan Industries and the talent from their newly-acquired studio helps them to do something different. Will be waiting for their first game.

[people id="626" name="Shailesh Prabhu"]

I don't see anything special in their vision. I would like to see one successful game before biting into their broader ambition.

It actually worries me a bit in the sense that it seems a bit poorly thought out.

<em>Survival Block</em>, set to be Viaan Studios' first release.
Survival Block, set to be Viaan Studios' first release.

Sounds a bit like "we will do this, that and the other". But will wait and see.

They are just as likely to succeed as anyone else.

I dont think Shilpa Shetty is in her prime as an actress (I can't recall the last movie she did), but her license will not add much value. Not that any Bollywood license has, in the past, impacted revenues.


[people id="631" name="Raoul Nanavati"]

It is very interesting to see a studio launch with such a specific roadmap.

“It's interesting to see a studio launch with such a specific roadmap.”
Raoul Nanavati

However, just the fact that they have such specific release dates indicates little practical experience about building F2P games and the experimentation it requires to achieve success.

The studio is definitely not disadvantaged by the assets they have. However, I'm not sure how much more well-positioned they are than any other studio to be successful.

For example, Glu hasn't been able to replicate Kim K's success with other significant celebrity IP.


Poornima Seetharaman

Poornima Seetharaman

Director of Design at Zynga

It's always good to see a new studio open up.

Regarding the vision, the ideas are not new and I'm not exactly sure of the expertise they have or when they started working on these games as such.

But if they pull it off without compromising on gameplay and quality, then great!

Only time will tell whether they will be successful. I'm not sure if their games are going to be profitable, but they do have the moolah! I wish them good luck.

Ankush Madad

Ankush Madad

Co-Founder and Creative Head at Dropout Games

What I'm excited about is that they're aiming for PC and console, as well as the fact that they'd be able to take bigger creative risks and have the budgets to support those risks.

Whether they take them or not is another question.

They definitely wouldn't have fund-related issues. That ticks off one major issue faced by most of us.

However, how successfully they execute their vision is something we'll find out when the time comes. For now, all we can do is just congratulate them and wish them the best!

Cartic P

Cartic P

Business Development Manager at Juego Studio Private Limited

Happy to see another game developer in the market. There's still plenty of scope and gamers to explore.

“Shilpa's game should get them some decent installs and retention - at least for D7.”
Cartic P

The opportunity cost to explore the market is very low, so I’m expecting few more giants with deep pockets to jump into the scene in near future.

This is good for the market as the quality of the games will eventually raise the bar.

150 million gamers as a target with a high-end mobile game doesn't sound realistic, as most Indian mobile internet users are still using 2G/lower-end mobile phones.

I don’t expect any shift in that area overnight, and certainly not before their first game launch.

They have a celebrity IP checked in, and I believe that Shilpa's game should get them some decent installs and retention - at least for D7. They can build something on top of it, for their new games down the line.

The market is still too unpredictable for us to predict whether a zombie themed game will work or not. I believe Shilpa is a safe bet over zombies.

As you can see, most of the Indian game publishers have avoided zombie-themed games for a long time now.

It's too early to predict whether they will be successful or not, but I'm really looking forward to see how they can make it Indian-centric.

Abhinav Sarangi

Abhinav Sarangi

Co-Founder at All in a Days Play

While it is always good to have new studios come up in India and I support that, I don't see anything different about their vision.

A lot of Indian studios are doing F2P games, some are also leveraging celebrity IPs and more recently, Indian studios have also been targeting both mobile and PC markets.

Shilpa Shetty has no shortage of competition in the celebrity gaming space.
Shilpa Shetty has no shortage of competition in the celebrity gaming space.

If I have learned anything in my four years in the gaming industry, it is that success is very hard to predict.

Viaan Studios has some of the right ingredients for success - good funding and celebrity IP - and I wish them all the best, but only time will tell if they can leverage these advantages into releasing good games.

Rituraj Behera

Rituraj Behera

Co-founder at Cympl

It's definitely exciting to see a gaming studio come up in India and try something new. Viaan seems to have a similar promise with a strong backup of Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra.

“By targeting everyone, they might end up spreading themselves too thin.”
Rituraj Behera

The only thing I am worried about is the company’s vision. By targeting everyone (and even every platform) they might end up targeting no-one and spreading themselves too thin.

But I hope I am wrong, and that Viaan Studios really have a clearly defined roadmap along with the implementation strength to achieve their vision.

They definitely have an advantage over most Indian studios, both financially to have enough runway and in terms of media reach to help with user acquisition (at least for the indian market).

But only time will tell if they can create high quality games to engage and retain their target market. I shall await their August 2016 launch of the mobile game Survival Block and wish them all the best for the future!