We met with Mr. Varun Bapna, the Senior VP at Amkette, India, and and got to talking about our passion for Video Games. He shares some interesting insights and thoughts about the Gaming Industry in India. Though we had only a few questions in mind, once we got to talking Varun had so much more to tell us. Here are some of the highlights of our discussions. Also be sure to listen to the audio version, it’s a lot of fun!
Gaming Central: Hey Varun, it’s great to be here with you.
Varun Bapna: Absolutely, any excuse to talk about Video Games, haha 🙂
Gaming Central: What’s your favorite smartphone game these days?
Varun Bapna: Well, I’ve been playing a lot of Bomb Squad which is an excellent multiplayer.
Gaming Central: What’s your take on Smartphone gaming in India?
Varun Bapna: Well, there are about a 120 million smartphone gamers in India right now, and that number is bound to increase really fast. Also, on Smartphones, it’s not just guys who are playing, since smartphones have a huge female audience playing games. More than 50% gamers are said to be female gamers. Also, it makes a lot more sense for parents to get their kids a mobile, and then they start playing on it. And when parents see their kids playing creative games like Minecraft, they are also happy.
I think the entire eco-system, and the scenario has completely changed. Three to four years ago, all we had was PC, and that one kid in our group would have an Xbox and everybody would go to his place and play FIFA, and so on. And then you have your PC gaming in college. But that was it. It was limited to this small group of core people willing to invest time and money into it. And right now, it’s expanding, specially mobile gaming.
Gaming Central: That’s true. We’ve been reviewing smartphones lately, and for 10-15k you can get a smartphone that can smoothly run all the latest games. And when you add on something like a joystick or a gamepad, like Amkette has just released, it just enhances the experience in a big way.
Varun Bapna: Yes, playing your favorite smartphone games with the gamepad is a phenomenal experience.
Gaming Central: You have so many good game developers here, how do you want to develop the whole eco-system? Are you also planning to go with a separate app store for the gamepad?
Varun Bapna: One thing on Android is, since the Play Store has such a liberal policy for submitting apps, it doesn’t make sense to have our own app store. It goes against the spirit of Android, as an open system which is across all devices and accepts apps on the Play Store with very minimal investment and practically no overside. For a developer it’s $25 to become a Play Store developer. And the Play Store lets you post an app near instantly. So it makes very little sense to splinter off separately.
Gaming Central: Do tell us a bit more about the Amkette Evo Gamepad?
Varun Bapna: It’s really cool, specially for fighting games or shooting games. what I have noticed is that a person needs about thirty seconds with this controller, and it’s so intuitive, specially if the person has used any kind of controller in the past. And some games are really meant to be played with a controller. Also this makes it easier for the player to see everything that is on screen.
Gaming Central: You guys have been working on developing hardware in India. How has the journey been so far, specially with bringing about Evo TV?
Varun Bapna: I think that’s a genuine challenge in India. Developing hardware, I mean. Software development, all it requires is a computer (and skill, of course). Hardware requires an eco-system to be frank, specially when you’re talking about consumer electronics, lifecycle of each product is maybe an year, or even lesser at times. For each product there’s a lot that goes into building and designing it. You need to do the layouts. Then getting the right chipsets, making the prototypes, and so on is really tough in India right now. And that’s a major challenge we’re trying to overcome right now. It’s very different in someplace like Shenzhen, China, where you could sit in an office, make 20 phone calls and have all the materials ready. From there on it’s a very fast way to building a prototype. The eco-system is really set up over there well.
One thing that’s happening in India also now is that the Indian government is making a big push to incentivize manufacturing in India so slowly the eco-system is going to switch ti India, starting with commodity products like power banks, and so on. The next few years will be very important in this. We’ve also started doing assembly for some products in India. We have a factory in Udaipur as well, which is where the floppy disks were manufactured back in the day.
Interview continued in audio here ::
Gaming Central: Guys that’s all for the written interview. We have a lot more that you can listen to, and it’s a lot of fun, be sure to check it out 🙂 Also be sure to check out the EVO gamepad for smartphones, it’s really awesome. We’ve been going back to playing some of the recent games like GTA: Chinatown Wars and Modern Combat, and it feels like an entirely new experience. For more news, reviews and interviews, keep checking back at Gaming Central.