Game development

Ludo helps Indian game studios open up to the world

Ludo, the anglicized version of a 1,400-year-old board game played in India called Parchisi, has found new life in the form of mobile avatars. Indian companies have reinvented gaming using technology – creating stylish game boards and tokens, new features, and online multiplayer options. And their most ardent players are not only in India, but also in Mediterranean countries like Spain and Morocco, South Americans like Colombia and Mexico, and even Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Vikash Jaiswal’s Ludo King has been among the top 10 most downloaded mobile games in the world since April of this year, according to market research firm Sensor Tower. There’s Moonfrog Labs’ Ludo Club, which is now also available on the US-based instant messaging app, Snapchat. IIT graduates Afsar Ahmad and Govind Agarwal’s Gameberry Labs, founded in 2017, have more than 6 million daily active users from 15 countries across two Ludo games. And new players are emerging.

Ahmad of Gameberry says mobile game development is taking off in India in part because of the number of game engines now available. A game engine, like Unity or Unreal, is a software tool that allows you to create video games. “They make it easier for developers to create the gameplay aspect – how it will play on the phone – after which it’s all about art, animation and design, and make them work seamlessly in the multiplayer format. “he said.
They decided to work on Ludo when they discovered that the existing Ludo games were not well designed. Gameberry’s art style was a big draw. “Our use of colors like purple and gold gave the game a regal feel and particularly garnered attention in places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan,” Ahmad said. The voice chat features in Ludo are also very attractive in countries like Saudi Arabia, where many ordinary voice applications are banned.
Pune-based Rajan Navani’s JetSynthesys has created a popular mobile Ludo game called Ludo Zenith that incorporates additional levels of strategy. “We use different characters in the game. For example, if you choose the bunny, you can jump extra spaces. If you choose the rhino, you can defend yourself. Ludo Zenith looks like a simple, laid back game, but it’s actually a very competitive game that keeps users coming back for more, ”he says.
Others also offer features that allow you to cancel your turn, or one where one of the four tokens is a king token – if he dies, that player must exit, and if he reaches the house, that’s enough. for the player to win. Many are monetized features.
Ahmad also says that game design is the key to getting people to keep playing. He says you have to plan what you want the player to do on Day 1, Day 10 and even Day 30. “Then you have to deliver new content throughout the year, depending on the seasons, festivals, national events,” he explains.
Navani says backend engineering is also essential. “We have had 200 engineers who have worked over the past six years just to create technology modules and efficiencies around the exploitation of technology. If you want the best user experience, you not only need content, but also the transparent technology that comes with it. Architecture, programming, product design, testing all require a deep understanding of the technology, ”he says.
It is also the experience of Siddharth Mishra. The co-founder and CEO of Mumbai-based GameNagri Studios launched a Ludo mobile game last year. “We are an independent studio with only eight people and we had to develop network capabilities because users wanted multiplayer options. Building multiplayer features that aren’t buggy is very difficult, ”he says.
Ludo’s popularity and expertise in India is also used by foreign companies to enter the country. Snapchat did. Square Enix, the Japanese gaming giant that developed some of the world’s most played franchises like the Final Fantasy series, has done so. He partnered with JetSynthesys for Ludo Zenith.
Cibin George, senior director of product marketing at Square Enix, says betting on a game like Ludo Zenith was an easier way to enter a very crowded market. “We tried to enter the Indian market in 2013, but had to shut down after a year. Then in 2019 we came back with a very different strategy and chose Ludo – to learn something from it and then define our strategies for other games, ”he says.

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