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We aim to improve in-game purchase economy in India: Ebrahim Popat

9Apps, part of Alibaba Group, has tied up with Disney India’s Interactive business to host and promote over 300 popular mobile games from its gaming catalogue. It is the first time Disney has partnered with a third-party app market in India to promote some of its most popular games world-wide.

9Apps will now showcase games that include Inside Out Thought Bubbles, Mickey Cup, Minnie Cake Factory, Toy Story: Smash It!, Where’s My Water?, Lion King, Cricket World Cup Fever, ABCD2, Arjun: The Prince of Bali and many more.

Announcing the association, Ebrahim Popat, Country Manager, 9Apps, said, “With over 250 million monthly active users around the world and a strong presence in India, our association with Disney India’s Interactive business aims to target the local market and add value to our loyal and vast user base in the country. We are glad to see more top players like Disney India choosing 9Apps as a medium to popularise their games. This is a positive indication that our capacity in providing customised promotion service has been recognised by both – key players and the industry.”

He further said, “Disney is one of the largest game designers. They make a lot of content for their characters, they also produce a lot of movies and create games based on those movies as well. Thus, they have a huge catalogue of content, and very recently they launched some of the best Disney games. So, they have lot of nostalgia too.”

“Technology plays a key role in furthering the reach of our beloved content amongst consumers on a platform of their choice. We have a great selection of gaming content based on our beloved characters and rich franchises, and with its growing popularity in India, 9Apps is definitely an association of choice to promote our rich catalogue of games and widen our consumer touch-points,” said Sameer Ganapathy, VP & Head – Interactive, Disney India.

The collaboration falls under 9Apps’ Top Developer Program, an initiative under which 9Apps aims to foster an ecosystem for digital content developers to reach out to their target audience. Last quarter, 9Apps also launched a $20 million InDev Program to help Indian independent and start-up developers with specially designed solutions, especially in user acquisition and monetisation.

In conversation with Adgully, Ebrahim Popat speaks at length about the association with Disney, developing gaming content, monetising games, plans to grow in India and much more. Excerpts:

Please tell us about the content for the games – is it primarily Indian content or international content is also being incorporated?
The content is international, the characters are international, but the way we are monetising them is very Indian. We have released titles like, ‘Where’s My Water’, ‘Where’s My Goofy’, Micky Mouse and Mini Mouse games based on these characters. Then there are games based on movie titles like ‘Jungle Book’, ‘Zootopia’, etc. These title are not available on any third party stores except 9Apps right now and the model for monetisation is more of a premium model. Thus, you can download the game for free and then you can make in app purchase through your telcom prepaid or postpaid card, there is no need for a credit card. In India, the access to credit cards is still very low, besides there is still reluctance to place our credit card data on to a store permanently.

We have found that Indians are not paying for content for multiple reasons. One of these reasons is that the content may not be priced right. Another reason is that they find it difficult to complete a purchase. If you try and sell at a dollar price point in India, I think it’s going to be difficult. A game which sells for $2 might not find many takers as that is the amount that an average Indian pays for his entire month’s prepaid recharge. That is why we have entered into such partnerships with Disney, where we are pricing the content in a very localised manner. Thus, for the Indian market we have price points starting as low as Rs 3, which goes up till Rs 500.

Is that the cost for the download?
It’s not the download cost. Let me give you an example, say you are playing a Teen Patti game and you exhaust X number of coins. You have to buy a new set of coins and you have the option of buying those coins at a price point starting at Rs 3 and based on how many coins you want, it can go up till Rs. 500. So here, we have localised the price points. Secondly, the way we have built the payment mechanism is seamless – all a user has to do is press a button and the money gets deducted out of his prepaid balance or it gets added to his monthly bill, in case of a postpaid connection.

We aim to improve the in-game purchase economy in India. Going forward, we will be distributing games apps titles to the next set of Internet agencies, which we feel will come from the interiors of India.

What is the TG that you are catering to?
We have a fairly young audience. But we also cater to people in their late 20s.

Who is paying for the games – the parents or are the kids themselves making the purchases?
I think today in an average household, it is the kid who is not only using his phone but also taking care of the entire family in terms of what kind of recharges they are doing. Today, even an average college going student is making some fair amount of data recharges or call recharges every month. But no matter what the amount is, the price points fall under set categories. For example, we have seen that Rs 30-Rs 50 is very popular as a price point for an average spender. Rs 50, if you compute it over a month, brings it down to around Rs 10-Rs 12 a week. So, we are saying that in a week if someone is making an in app purchase, he is spending around Rs 12.

What kind of revenue projections you are making in that case?
We don’t discuss revenue figures. From the usage perspective, there are multiple data points as to how many of them are using games which have in app purchase mechanism in them. Out of those users, how many are making active purchases. If we keep on filtering that funnel, we will come down to very less number of users. So, we can’t calculate back and give you a revenue protection, what we can give you are numbers in terms of what our current usage is.

How will the various associations help leverage Brand 9Apps? Along with the tie-up with Disney, some time back UCWeb also partnered with Colors and there is a game based on Colors’ show, ‘24’...
When the Anil Kapoor ‘24’ game was launched, we had an exclusive partnership with Colors, so for the first two weeks it was with 9Apps exclusively, and after it went live on other plstforms. We undertook a lot of initiatives around it. Even the cast of ‘24’ tweeted about it. Similarly, with Disney there are certain titles which are exclusive to us.

What about ‘Bigg Boss 10’, which is launching soon?
So far, we are not creating any gaming content around it, but there might be someone who has the rights, who might like to build a game.

Is the partnership with Disney an exclusive one, or do they have gaming content on other platforms as well?
Certain games are there on other platforms, while there are certain games which are available only on 9Apps. 

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