Vikash Jaiswal and Soni Kumari on Ludo King success and future investments

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Ludo King, the digital version of the antiquated board game, published by Gametion Tech in 2016, has become India’s first and world’s third most downloaded game today. Although it drew significant consumer attention in the first month of its launch itself, the pandemic and the lockdown of 2020 catapulted it into a major crowd-puller.   

Founded by Gametion Tech, Ludo King became the talk of the town during the first month of its launch and gave a much-needed breakthrough to the company by crossing 500 million downloads in November last year. Other popular games produced by the company include Carrom King and Sudoku King, wherein Carrom King is currently gaining popularity with ten million-plus active installs.

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With its eyes on the growing markets of India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Pakistan, Tunisia and the USA, Gametion Tech is now producing more games for its target market.

Finding the connectives to success

Gametion Technologies came to the fore with in-browser flash games in 2010 as online flash gaming was at its all-time high. To harness the advantages of the trending milieu, Gametion Tech introduced its own website. It hosted a lot of flash games until Ludo King started gaining more traction from smartphone users.

“By 2013 mid, we started observing that online flash gaming was slowly declining and smartphones were on a rise. This was the time, I decided to pivot myself to smartphone development to capitalize the market soon,” recalling the transition phase, Vikash Jaiswal, the founder and CEO of Gametion told BS Businessworld.

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Definitely a moment of inspiration

Prior to the launch of Ludo King, the company experimented with more than 20 odd games but with the conceptualisation of his IP Ludo King, Jaiswal envisioned it to be among the top 10 games in the board category. Evidently, it shocked everyone when the game crossed over a million installs in less than a month and topped the charts as one of the top games on Google Play. Jaiswal reminisced that “from inception till execution, I somehow knew this would be a breakthrough for me but never imagined Ludo King would become super big.”

Indeed, his determination and commitment to his goals made everything work for the Founder.

The game was fetching more downloads and touching major highs even before the pandemic, but recognizing the growth story was a significant realization during the pandemic. “The pandemic boosted our growth by over 3X. Our daily active users (DAU) before the pandemic were about 15 million, and during the pandemic, it reached 51 million,” the founder said.

Despite the competitive environment, the company achieved some big records and held tight to the titles to maintain its top position on Google Play Store since May 2017. It also attained the top spot as the first Indian developer crossing 100 million installs on Google Play Store.

Fighting challenges and winning

While spilling the beans of how the lockdown stimulated the game’s growth by three times, Jaiswal commented that “it is an unfortunate situation for the whole world where mostly all countries decided to shut operation to battle the deadly virus. However, to battle the lockdown anxiety, people found out ways through digital means because of what else they could have possibly done. I feel happy about the fact that during the most difficult times, our game Ludo King brought the family and friends closer. The players started spending more and more time on the app to have a fun time.”

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Jaiswal also expressed some of his concerns during the ideation of the game, “for any entrepreneur without investors, there is always pressure on the budget you can spend. But I will not emphasise this topic too much as I have always prioritized my passion for building games first. From a technological front, of course, getting the real board experience in the digital form was definitely a challenge,” 

Another major challenge included choosing a simple rule of ludo as different cities and states had their own variation of rules. Apart from this, the company also brainstormed for quite a while about providing ease of control and easy onboarding of players while catering to the diverse audience of the country.

This sure was an uphill task

To top the challenges, Jaiswal shared that “we had a lean team, where I was the designer, artist, and QA myself. Surprisingly, the developer working with me on this game had no experience of playing ludo in his lifetime. Imagine that.” A worthwhile journey of course as it took Jaiswal almost a year to get the first launch as he says, “when I look back, it seems to be looking at hell of a ride.”

Evolving and innovating while sustaining growth

Innovation and experimentation are the success narrative of a company and to keep the spirits high, the company is focusing on expanding teams for the past two years. Soni Kumari, the managing director and co-founder of Gametion Tech remarks that “we are still hiring to expand further. Currently, we have about 80+ employees. Internally we are experimenting with new innovative ideas on prototype level and further expanding the prototypes to production.”

2020 was definitely a successful phase for the company as it clocked in USD 20 million revenue during it. But, there’s no settling down as the company is still working on launching new products while managing live operations for the games Ludo King, Carrom King and Sudoku King. “A couple of new product launches are slated to be done by the end of this year and one in the first half of next year,” Kumari adds. 

Apart from expanding their team, the company is putting much-needed efforts in driving a positive impact through marketing strategies such as having a brand ambassador to promote the products, social media engagements, and advertisements on television channels.

Tackling competitors and planning ahead

When asked about the mushrooming competition in the space, Jaiswal says, “One major aspect for the new entrants would be to focus on creating products with various innovative ideas. This way building a strong product would only mean more organic growth.”

Kumari believes that casual gaming is the most quickly adopted format as the learning curve is low. She also puts up her idea of a brand’s perspective by adding, “with the widespread audience presence in the casual gaming space would only enable better branding to non-endemic brands,”

There is so much more to watch out for in the gaming space. With three games on board and plans to bring more games to the fore, the company is striving towards success by aligning its vision with the audiences’ interests.

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Concluding the discussion, Kumari added, “Apart from this we are looking for opportunities to invest in promising startups and also exploring opportunities outside of building free2play games.”

Gametion Tech’s walk towards the bright path of success will be a delight to watch for every gaming fan out there.