Kreeda – The Passionate Indian Gamers
At the age of nine, he would make, print and sell buttons with funny sayings and at 10, he tried selling jewelry door-to-door…years later, he left an IBM job to pursue his passion – making social games. Sophia Holmes from Joystics.com talks to Robin Alter, the CEO and Co-founder of Kreeda Games India as he discusses his past, present and future.
How and when did you startup?
In 2005, after moving to India as an independent Management Consultant to Media and Telco companies, two colleagues from IBM along with me decided to start a gaming company. Having worked across Asia Pacific where multiplayer gaming had become a massive force, we felt there were untapped opportunities in India. We rented a small office (actually a garage) in a Mumbai suburb, and I spent the first year analyzing the market and defining the business opportunities.
The gaming industry in India at that time was small and fragmented and had many gaps – poor internet access, few cash collection methods and limited Indian gaming content. We decided to focus on online game publishing and social game development. After about 6 months of intensive search in 2006, we closed our first round with Softbank and IDG Ventures.
Over the last 5 years we have built a unique team with specialized skills in online game operations and development. We started by licensing and localizing games and we expanded into a full game development studio that makes games for international gaming companies. We are now also making our own social mobile IP.
Tell us about a project you’ve been very proud of.
DanceMela was a Casual MMOG which we licensed and then localized it for India, complete with Bollywood songs, dance moves and Indian virtual clothing items. We built all operations such as marketing, CRM, micro-billing, data analytics, in-game advertising and server management and published it in India. We ran DanceMela for 4 years, the first fully localized MMOG, won multiple awards and offered something new and exciting in Indian Entertainment.
Throw some light on the gaming industry. Which software do you use?
The gaming industry in India is just now taking off, and it represents the largest untapped opportunity in gaming in the world. With over 65% of India’s one billion people under the age of 35, and with over 650 million active mobile users, a large and unique gaming industry is inevitable in India.
A mass gaming movement in India will take a different form than in other countries. Iconic interfaces, culture specific reward systems and regional partnerships are just a few keys to success.
Kreeda designs and develops cross-platform gaming experiences on platforms such as Android, Flash, LAMP and HTML5. We also use cross-platform tools such as Unity3D and Box2D.
Who was your first client? How did you grow from there?
We first worked with 9You in China to localize DanceMela (formerly SuperDancerOnline). To complement our Localization and Game Operations business, we also built social networks and mobile and casual games. In 2009, we established a full-scale game development studio. The first project was to build game-based, brain-training website (MyFitBrain.com) with games and a custom built Learning Management System to track and adapt games difficulty levels based on player performance and skills.
Since then, we have built over 100 games and gaming solutions such as virtual worlds, SmartPhone games and social games with companies like SPIL and PlayFirst. Also, we have delivered game marketing services for companies like Take2 and Nintendo. Currently, we are focusing on building deeper, cross-platform, social-mobile games.
I am always building something. Even at the age of nine, I would make, print and sell buttons with funny sayings and at 10, I tried selling jewelry door-to-door. Although I come from a family of entrepreneurs, a defining moment came in 1989 when I got my first job at IBM, implementing educational networks in New York City Public schools. At that time, IBM was downsizing and by and large, firing people who had worked there for many years. I understood early on that there is no real security in working for someone else. We have to make our own decisions, make them often, and stay in places where the learning curve is steep. I worked at IBM for 8 years to improve my business and technical skills and get more professional polish and I have been in startups ever since.
Starting a gaming company really brought all my interests together. Of all the industries I have worked in, nothing compares to going to work to design fun games.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work with?
Typically, I meet with the team managers to review priorities, progress and objectives, then I review the games in production or lead brain storming sessions on new game concepts and level progressions. I also enjoy taunting the team to beat my high-score on games I want them to study. We are a team of about 50 people, everyone younger than me, in their 20’s and early 30s. We have game designers, producers, developers, animators, testers and the usual cast of characters in a gaming studio.
What do you wish you could change about games or the industry in India?
Well, besides the obvious issues of access and monetization models, I would like to see better games made for India. These games should be inspired by India’s rich stories and cultures, and they should reflect the new tastes of a country going through an immense cultural change. Since the culture is so socially connected through informal and generational bonds, I believe successful games in India will be fundamentally social.
Any tips for budding game developers?
Build a lot of games, in the process you will learn and improve as a studio, and maybe some will bring greater commercial success. To do this effectively, I suggest collaborating with other individuals and companies outside of your company. It helps to focus on what you are good at and to work with other teams to fill in the gaps and get more games out. Over time you will learn the nuances that make better games. In particular when it comes to creating social games, it is important to tap into many different perspectives and creative ideas because the game will need to appeal to many different people and tastes (kind of like crowd-sourcing game design).
Behind the Games
Joystics believes in making a strong rapport not only with great games, but also with the people behind them! ‘Behind the Games’ is our collection of candid talks with makers of the games you love. A gamer’s delight!