Among the few industries that have grown rapidly during the nationwide lockdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is the online gaming world. Ludo, in particular, has got a facelift with people across the country playing the game with their families, partners and friends.
Ludo King is among the apps that have exploded in popularity, with a five-fold increase in traffic during the lockdown. It has more than 330 million downloads, with about 50 million daily active users. The rapid increase has even taken the creators, Gametion Technologies, by surprise.
"We did not expect it actually," Vikash Jaiswal, founder of the game, told News18. "Like everyone else, we were worried about how this lockdown would affect us, both Ludo King, and the company. These are unprecedented times, something no one has seen before, and hence it was quite difficult to anticipate how it would affect the industry or our game. However, we were pleasantly surprised when we started to see increased traffic on Ludo King."
Jaiswal, who has been in the gaming industry since 2003, developed his "favourite childhood game" into the online world in 2016.
"While scrolling through the games on Google Play, I realised there were very limited games based on traditional board games, especially on Indian games like ludo, snakes and ladders, carrom, etc. I saw an opportunity there," he said.
Soon, Ludo King became the number 1 free game, going past the Temple Runs and Candy Crushes. Being the early mover definitely helped.
"There are a lot of ludo games out there. However, I think one of the primary reasons why Ludo King stands out is due to the fact that we were the first ludo game on the mobile phones of its kind," said Jaiswal. "Most of the other games came out later, when our Ludo King already had millions of fans. Also, ludo itself is quite popular because nearly every Indian has grown up playing it. So, the demand for Ludo King was definitely there. Another reason why we believe Ludo King is popular is because of its simple, colourful graphics. It has an effortless gameplay and easy to follow rules as well."
The demand has increased manifold during the lockdown and Jaiswal expects it to be that way even after this phase ends and people get busier.
"The major shift that the gaming industry is going to see is an increase in the number of players," said Jaiswal. "The numbers are going to be down as compared to the lockdown, but are probably going to be more than before the lockdown began. The main reason for this is people who always claimed that video games are not for them or that they are bad, are now sitting at home and playing games to kill time. As every gamer knows, games are great and somewhat addictive. All these new audiences are not going to just stop playing as soon as the lockdown is over. Sure some will, but now that the others have now got a taste, they are going to keep on playing, which is great news for online games and Ludo King as well."
Jaiswal said his team, apart from enjoying the success, is using this time as a specialised focus group.
"With so many people playing the game, we are focusing on studying what aspects of the game they really like, and what aspects of the game they are not sure about. We can then focus on figuring out the reasons for this, so that we can make changes to the game accordingly," he said. "This should help us to retain the audiences since they will see more of what they like and hence be more likely to keep on playing."