Having started his own business after getting frustrated with a “stuffy family business environment”, Alok Kejriwal has come a long way in the past 26 years. He is not only the founder of companies like Contests2win, Mobile2win, Media2win and Games2win, but has also founded an online community for entrepreneurs called The Rodinhoods. In an interview with Business Today, Kejriwal shares his journey through the years.
BT: You founded Games2win in 2007. What inspired you to go into the gaming business?
Kejriwal: No matter how much you innovate or create a good idea, brands always want to put themselves first. They don’t care about engagement. Therefore I thought, let’s create a company where we only make games for consumers and when these games become very popular, the brands will come running.
We already have around 73 million downloads and see about 70-80,000 downloads a day. Our company has 45 apps in the app store and we operate globally as we don’t believe in an India-only story.
Our most popular game is Parking Frenzy and has about 20-25 million downloads. Besides Parking Frenzy, another 15 of our games have 1 million downloads now. We are more anxious to get many small successes than one large success.
At one time we were a very popular online games company. According to Comscore data, we were among the top 20 games companies in the world but now we have become a mobile games company.
BT: You have not been a very strong advocate of mobile-only approach and you have written columns against it. So why have you adopted the same approach for your company?
Kejriwal: Many companies went app-only and now have gone back to the desktop version. My business is very different. My argument always has been that you cannot dictate to the consumer that you can only buy through the app. In gaming, the format has changed to the mobile gaming because consumers are no longer gaming on their PCs. Even today our online business is very robust, we still have 700 games online and almost get 100,000 views a day, we have not shut it down.
We were amongst the top 20 in 2010 but our traffic was not growing. It wasn’t falling but it was not growing. And then we realised that gaming is going to be big on phones. So we started mobile games and in 2013 we totally moved to it and stopped making online games in 2014.
BT: You say you are building a games channel and not a single game. What does it mean?
Kejriwal: No one in the world has succeeded as a single game company. Angry Birds came and went, then the same thing happened with FarmVille. Candy Crush was very popular at a time but it seems to be dying now. So we have learned a lesson that while one of your games may become successful, it may also destroy you. We have decided we would like to become a channel. We want to become a destination for gaming. We have a vision to be top games company from India, not just in India.
BT: ‘Top games company from India not just in India.’ How will you make this a success?
Kejriwal: In India, we are already the top games company in terms of downloads and global footprint. Three things will work to our advantage. We have a very talented engineering pool, a very large English speaking talent and they are not expensive. Which means we have lower cost of making games and therefore we can try many games before they succeed. A very high quality game like Parking Frenzy takes about $300,000 to be made in America, but in India it costs about $10,000. So we can make 30 more games in the cost an American company would make one game.
Also because we have been in this arena for long and predominantly our business comes from outside of India, we understand mobile gaming better than companies in their own market.
India is going to be the largest gaming country in the world. By 2019, given our Android population and English speaking audience, we will have the largest gaming market in the world. So that itself will help us.
BT: What are emerging trends in the gaming world?
Kejriwal: There are four or five emerging trends:
1. Everything is becoming very casual. It’s becoming like the music business, every day there is a new ‘No. 1’.
2. A lot more girls are playing games now, which is giving birth dressing up games etc.
3. People play many games in a day, so no single game is going to dominate the market.
4. App stores are completely democratising the success of games. The best games come on top no matter how much money you have spent.
BT: What’s the next phase for Games2Win?
Kejriwal: We had our first positive in December. It’s not that consistent but now we are seeing more positive months than negative months. FY17 would be completely profitable for us. We are also looking at the opportunity of launching games from other companies on our platform and cracking the China market, which is a big opportunity. Also someday we want to list as a full-fledged gaming company.