With over 67 million units of Xbox 360 sold across the globe, Microsoftâ€™s gaming console is all set to find a space in Indian homes targeting the entire family. In an exclusive interview with Pitch, Anshu Mor, Business Group Lead, Interactive Entertainment Business, Microsoft Corporation (India), shares Xboxâ€™s plans in India. Excerpts…
How is Kinetic changing the gaming scenario in India?
The moment we brought in Kinect, we expanded the market. We could cater to the family audience, that had negative perceptions associated with console gaming. But with Kinect, the experience was different as it was very physical and healthy in nature. You can stand up and play. You can jump around and be active, rather than sitting with a controller in your hand, which created a different perception in the Indian context. Then our offerings like Kinect Sports, Dance Central and fitness games were again perceived as very healthy, yet fun elements. So Kinect brought a very different idea of having fun at home, it wasnâ€™t the kid who was playing. That was Phase 1.
What is Phase 2?
The feedback we got in the last two years was that there was in nothing in Kinetic for the core gamers. We are trying to focus on that segment now. We came up with a functionality with which one could control the game with gesture movements. Next year, EA sports is launching FIFA 13, that has Kinect functionality. If you like playing football, think of scenarios where you can ask for a pass by talking or with hand gestures to your teammate. You can change formations on the field and replace players on the field. It brings in the extreme immersive experience. The other piece of innovation that we are bringing in, is based on the philosophy of different devices talking to each other – it connects the phone that is Windows enabled, the tab, the PC, the laptop and the Xbox gaming console.
How is the Indian market compared to the international one?
International market is a very mature market. Western countries and South East Asian countries like Korea, Singapore, understand the concept of console gaming very well. There is no cultural hindrance to console gaming. But in India there is a lot that we need to do as an industry. In my view, education and awareness about the product and what it can do to the larger audience is extremely important.
What is your retail strategy?
We are attempting to redefine gaming by showing the consumers what it really is and so have created experience zones at different retail outlets and chains. We are present in the top 14 cities in the country, which are contributing hugely to the sales. The top four metros contribute maximum but the rest are showing good amount of growth which lie in the TierII and III towns. Plus, we have tie ups with all the major retail chains such as Croma, Reliance, Jumbo and Landmark, online we are partners with Flipkart and Amazon.
What is Xbox doing for promotion?
We have reached a stage where we do not have to promote the brand; we need to promote the experience and that is what our key focus area is.
What is your media budget for Xbox?
The area where we are increasing investment is online and we have 5 lakh members on Facebook where we engage in a lot of activities that are fun related. We have Xbox live parties on social media which we believe have massive potential with the audience.
Have you set any targets?
We donâ€™t believe in targets. The reason is that everyone in the Microsoft and the Xbox division in India believes that we are here to make the market. We believe that there is a huge market and a lot of potential in the console gaming arena, we want to target families different age groups involved.
Where does Xbox lie in terms of market position today?
Since there is no official data that comes out in India, we do not know where we are. Sony says they are No 1, we say we are No 1, but according to reports like FICCI or KPMG, we believe that we are growing much faster and at an exponential rate. When we launched Kinect, we doubled our sales that year, and this fiscal we have had 70 per cent growth.