Here’s Why Nazara CEO Is Bullish About Indian Studios Making AAA Games For The World

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Nazara CEO Nitish Mittersain believes that with Indian talent gaining experience, the country’s gaming industry has made some progress in the AAA segment in the last 3-4 years

A lot of Indian gaming studios are attempting to new things in the AAA segment and many of them can succeed globally in the next decade: Mittersain

In the video gaming industry, AAA is a classification term used for games with big development budgets and high promotional costs

The online gaming industry, touted as the sunrise sector of India, has achieved many milestones in the past few years, especially in terms of the number of users. The sector has produced unicorns like Dream11, Games24X7 and MPL over the last few years. The government has also started taking the industry more seriously, appointing the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) as the nodal ministry for the sector last year. However, India continues to lag behind in developing AAA games.

However, some Indian studios like SuperGaming and gaming unicorn Mobile Premier League’s Mayhem Studio are now trying to change India’s standing in the AAA segment and are working on making large-scale games. 

In the video game industry, the term AAA is used for games with big development budgets and high promotional costs. A title considered to be AAA is therefore expected to be a high-quality game.

Discussing the various aspects of AAA gaming and India’s position in the segment during Inc42’s The Makers Summit, Nazara Technologies CEO and joint MD Nitish Mittersain said, “We evolved over the last decade. India has always had a good VFX, animation capabilities, coding capabilities, what we didn’t have is the experience in game design, game economy.” 

Mittersain said that Indian game developers did not have a big enough home market in the past where they could test their products and hone their skills. Consequently, it didn’t make sense to build for the home market and the budget required to build for the global market from scratch was very large. Hence, Indian companies were behind in AAA gaming. However, he said that the situation has changed now. 

Make For The World 

The Nazara CEO said that the AAA gaming segment in India has changed over the last decade or so as many American and Western studios began setting up their back offices in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune from around 2010.

“A lot of our Indian teams got the first hand experience of working on some of the older titles, running live ops for them, etc. And that started inculcating that expertise and experience which has developed over the years,” he added. 

Mittersain said the Indian gaming industry has seen early signs of success in the AAA segment over the last 3-4 years and highlighted Nazara’s Kiddopia, which develops games for young kids.

“I know many studios that are attempting in AAA and that could potentially be successful. So I think we are seeing a transition here. And I think in the next decade you will see many more Indian gaming studios develop and succeed for the world and start becoming a lot more visible in global gaming charts, which has not been there in the past,” he said.

Easier For Startups To Innovate In AAA

While the requirement of big budgets for the AAA segment can make it seem that only big companies can succeed, Mittersain believes it is easier for startups to innovate for this segment.

It is advantageous to be a startup because they have the risk capital available and can take a long shot which might be difficult for bigger companies. “I’m seeing a lot of younger startups take on really ambitious projects. And I think some of them will succeed. Some of them will learn, some of them will fail. That’s part of the course,” he noted.

Citing the constraints of listed companies like Nazara, he said, “We have to also keep an eye on our numbers that the market is expecting, how much can we invest into long term AAA titles, how much risk can we take?” 

Due to these reasons, Nazara is taking a different approach to succeeding and producing AAA games – acquiring existing gaming studios, the CEO said. 

It must be noted that Nazara acquired 100% stake in US-based children-focused gaming firm WildWorks last year.

How To Compete In The Global Market?

Responding to a question about the areas Indian developers should focus on to succeed in the global gaming market, Mittersain highlighted game design and monetisation.

Besides, he also said that many times studios focus too much on monetisation which proves to be a hindrance. 

“There are a lot of gaming studios in India. They have the right ideas when it comes to the product, and are very passionate about the product, the graphics and how it looks and how it works. But sometimes they can have more light on the monetisation which becomes a handicap and we’ve seen it in some of our studios also,” he explained. 

He also advised studios to focus on real KPIs such as engagement, time spent, and retention metrics rather than focusing on vanity metrics like downloads. 

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