India's copyright law, laid down in the Indian Copyright Act 1957 as amended by Copyright (Amendment) Act 1999, fully reflects the Berne Convention on Copyrights, to which India is a party. Additionally, India is party to the Geneva Convention for the Protection of Rights of Producers of phonograms and to the Universal Copyright Convention. The copyright law has been amended periodically to keep pace with changing requirements. The recent amendment to the copyright law, which came into force in May 1995, has ushered in comprehensive changes and brought the copyright law in line with the developments in satellite broadcasting, computer software and digital technology. The amended law has made provisions for the first time, to protect performer's rights as envisaged in the Rome Convention.
Several measures have been adopted to strengthen and streamline the enforcement of copyrights. These include the setting up of a Copyright Enforcement Advisory Council, training programmes for enforcement officers and setting up special policy cells to deal with cases relating to infringement of copyrights11. Domestic Gaming market: India has a Gaming mindset which is waiting to explode.
With the fact that 54% of the Indian population is below the age group of 25yrs and having the world's largest youth population – India's only getting younger12. Although the majority of the revenue earned by the Indian gaming companies are by the way of developing games for the foreign market, there is a huge online gaming market in India waiting to be tapped. Entertainment features to be one of the predominant spending areas amongst the Indian consumers and growth in this sector is expected to be made possible increasing internet penetration, and entry of industry houses into online gaming business. The figure below indicates the uses of PC's in India:
Risk factors: In the current scenario, India is fairly stable politically and has been entering into trade agreements and mutual treaties with a few developed nations on a regular basis. On the other hand, the global financial turmoil can be considered as an obstacle but then again it is not directly related to the gaming industry and doesn't seem to halt the boom of the gaming industry. In the worst case scenario the dollar rate fluctuation can create some temporary hardships and might reduce the revenue of the company.
But, there are other major threats and obstacles that need to be addressed and dealt with while entering the Indian shores. Language Barrier: While market entry into Europe and Australia has been easy for US game studios, with similar language and animation expectations in gaming, it would not be the same while entering into the Indian market. Not only the western companies would have to translate but also rewrite software to accommodate the different alphabets and character systems used in Asian languages.
Piracy Threat: Piracy is the second major obstacle companies' face, and it requires more than a simple translation of their software. Programmers in Asian countries like India rapidly crack the protections developers place in their software and the bootleg copies are circulated in cheap CDs or are made available to the world online. Networks like Bit Torrent allow the rapid dispersal of illegal software and the high-speed internet connections allow it to be done conveniently.
Gamer Culture: The gamer culture is yet another hurdle that western companies generally face. Gamers in India prefer games which are attached to the names of famous sport star or a film star. Any cricket game in India named after Sachin Tendulkar sells just because of the popularity of the sport star. Moreover, Indian gamers prefer games developed on famous epic stories of ancient India. Another popular category of games is that of bollywood, which involves games developed on the stories of hit Indian movies13.
Strategic Risk Management: Joint ventures have traditionally been an entry strategy but in the modern day business where globalization is at its peak, joint ventures serve as a risk leveraging option for entering into a new country14. In recent years, India has seen a series of joint venture and most of them have been driven by the need of minimizing some of the risks and threats mentioned above. In the context of the gaming industry, a joint venture can be fruitful in the following aspects: Technology: A joint venture would enable the two firms to combine their technological expertise and make the most out of a suitable opportunity.
Ease of Operations and set-up: For foreign firms a Joint venture with a local partner lowers risks via: ability to hire the best talent, knowledge of local markets, connections with local government, pre-existing distribution networks etc. Access to Capital: In an emerging economy like India, the local partner provides the distribution network, human capital and government links as its investment in the JV, while the foreign partner provides the capital and technology which ultimately increases profitability. Cultural integration: A Joint venture provides an opportunity to the foreign company to gain an insight into the culture of the local firm's country and hence enables it to collaborate its operations accordingly.
Dhruva Interactive: A Potential Business Partner Dhruva Interactive is one of the oldest and most respected Indian games company15. It is based in Bangalore, the Information Technology hub of India and is in its 12th year of operations. It has an extensive knowledge of the Indian games market and has been developing games considering not only the likes but also the sentiments of the Indian population. In the last 8 years, the company has contributed towards the development of over 20 blockbuster games.
The company's client base includes big names such as Microsoft, Intel, THQ and Codemasters to name a few. In Nov. 1998, Infogrames Entertainment (now Atari) commissioned Dhruva to develop the PC version of their hit 3D title 'Mission: Impossible'. This was a historic event, as Dhruva became the first ever games developer from India to be signed on for developing a game title by a major international games publisher16.
Dhruva Interactive outsources grunt work to its clients in the United States and is a specialist in its field. Rajesh Rao, CEO and founder of Dhruva Interactive started the firm in 1995 with a team of 5 and has now expanded to a workforce of 6517. It is ideally located in Bangalore, the IT hub of India which provides access to skilled technicians who are willing to work at competitive wages. Over the years, the company's USP has been its reliability and experience in the outsourcing business, its uncompromising quality, sophisticated processes and its professional work ethic18. Moreover, it also has a strong track record over the past 11 years of its operations and a strong client base which provides a lucrative opportunity for collaboration with this company.
Conclusion: After conducting analysis of the Indian gaming market and the Indian economy as a whole, it can be concluded that there cannot be a better time to invest in India. The Indian economy is developing very rapidly and the foreign investment procedures in India have never been so simple before. Moreover, these basic factors coupled along with specific benefits for the Games developing Industry such as cheap and talented workforce, a vast untapped domestic gaming market and centralized location in Asia make India a hot spot for investment in the games developing industry. At the same time, there are also certain threats and risks of investing in the Indian gaming market but these can be dealt with by adopting risk leveraging options such as a Joint-Venture which ultimately makes investing in India a safe bet.