In the series of interviews with market leaders, change-makers, and innovators, we bring our next interview with an innovator, passionate game developer, and creator of record-breaking game Ludo King, Mr. Vikash Jaiswal, Founder & CEO, Gametion Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
A journey which started from humble beginnings in Patna now stands at the top of the gaming world with record-breaking number achieved by Ludo King.
Let’s hear from the man himself Vikash Jaiswal about his journey & Ludo King.
- Tell us about your journey and Ludo King as well.
My journey from Patna to Mumbai has been amazing and full of ups downs.
I used to play a lot of games in my childhood including Mario, Contra, and many more. Kids in Bihar were so passionate about playing games but gaming parlors were eventually banned. This was in 1991; I was young and loved games so I dreamed about buying my gaming machine to keep on playing games.
I also used to make and sell handmade greetings cards. I was quite creative in my childhood days and wanted to own a greetings card company but it didn’t work out, which was for the best.
Growing up I loved computers and I wanted to learn everything about them. So after I completed my 12th, I decided to pursue computer engineering. It was also in trend back then. While preparing for my entrance exams, I took up a course in Animation & Multimedia where I learned Photoshop and Graphic Designing.
In 1999, I got admission to MIT, Bulandshahr. I remember I used to carry my computer from my hostel back to my hometown Patna during every vacation. Carrying a computer was a huge task back then as they used to be quite heavy.
During my computer explorations, I found a free software called Gamemaker and learned everything about it. I made a game with it in 3 months and distributed it to the hostel boys to play. The game was called “Eggy Boy” and it was rewarded ‘Game of the Month’ by various magazines which boosted up my confidence. It was then that I decided to take up game development as a career.
After completing my studies, I started writing to Indian game companies for a job by showcasing my work. One of the leading companies back then, IndiaGames hired me in 2004 and I worked there for 4 years.
I then started my gaming website and gaming portal which started making good money. For 2 years, I worked from home. My wife also worked at the time.
In 2010, I decided to open up a new office and scale up my game development and that’s how Gametion started.
For the next 3 years, we were making browsers and web-based games. But then browser gaming declined in favor of mobile gaming, and all of a sudden we started experiencing low traffic and low earnings. After this, we decided to enter the mobile app-based gaming.
We developed a few games during 2013 -15, but those games were average. Then came Ludo King.
Start and Journey of Ludo King
Back in 2015, we had a team of 5-6 people. It was then that I conceptualized Ludo King. It was 3 of us working on that game, me, a programmer, and one graphic designer. My programmer had never heard of Ludo, so our work wasn’t easy.
We started designing the game from scratch; my only aim was that it had to be quick and interesting. I researched a lot and decided to simplify a few rules, and add new animations such as the movement of tokens which helped us in becoming more popular.
We further introduced a few new features such as a dice pad for every player and quick action on the move of players.
- How much has lockdown contributed to the growth of Ludo King & what were the challenges?
We’ve been lucky that the Lockdown has committed immensely to the growth of Ludo King. The best part about Ludo King is that it is a family game and you can play it with anyone, so more and more people chose to play Ludo King with their family and friends.
Even before the Lockdown, Ludo King was number 1, but our numbers continued to increase after the lockdown was implemented. We first ranked number one on Google Play Store and Apple App Store in May 2018.
Since the lockdown began, our daily active user count has gone up drastically. Before we had daily traffic of 1 crore and now it has surged to 5 crores. One of the reasons for this is that during the lockdown, people who had not played games ever switched to playing games. From kids to elderly people, everyone started playing Ludo King since Ludo has a nostalgic connection.
One issue we faced was that our backend was certainly not ready to handle this surge in users. Our servers crashed in the first week of April. We had to keep popping up the maintenance window and it felt bad as our new users were not able to connect with us. But we were not prepared for this and we needed at least 7-8 days to strengthen our server-side. We were using 8 servers at the start of lockdown but now we are using 200, we can further scale up this to 500-1000 servers depending on user load.
- Are you expecting any fall post lockdown and any suggestions for the gaming community?
I do hope that this lockdown ends soon, as all of us are stuck. However, we are prepared whether the lockdown continues or not. We have our upcoming goals and their timelines set. In terms of fall in numbers post lockdown, our game was the leader before the lockdown and I am sure that it will retain the position. Still, we will continue to add new features to make the game more interesting and retain as many users as we can.
We have faced a lot of problems in this lockdown but this is a great time for the Indian Gaming Industry and game developers. The community can use this time to showcase their games and creativity to the audience as people are free these days and they are bound to get engagement. I’ll suggest that the developers opt for casual games that involve family and kids rather than action games.
- What new modifications do you plan for this game after receiving so many requests?
On the demand of our users, we are adding a few more modifications in the upcoming months.
We are adding audio chats for the users, along with a lot of vernacular languages such as Marathi. We are also adding more multiplayer options such as a 6 player board. These modifications are our primary targets for the time being, but there are a lot more planned.
- What are plans of scaling up this?
I’ll rather say this already scaled up game. We are planning for audience diversification. As I said earlier our 70 percent is Indian and 30 percent comes from the rest of the world. We want to change this thing and have a number where most of our audience is from the rest of the world. Ludo King is the number one game in Bangladesh for the last 3 years and among the top 10 games in Pakistan and Indonesia. We want to add more countries to this list.
- Are we seeing anymore classical Indian games in app format from Gametion?
One of our games Carrom King is already in Top 5 games and is played on a large scale in India. We are already working on 4 games which are multiplayer and cater to a mass appeal.
- What is your message for aspiring entrepreneurs?
My message for youngsters and upcoming entrepreneurs is that whatever you want to do, be clear about this. If you are clear about what you want to do, then the only way is hard work and smart work. If you are smart with your choices, your hard work will pay. I always had an entrepreneurial spirit in me since my childhood days as I used to make and sell greetings cards. So, I was very clear about what I wanted to do.
Team Next Big Brand extends heartiest wishes to Vikash Jaiswal, Ludo King Team Gametion. Kudos to him for such an amazing and fun interview, certainly one of the coolest entrepreneurs I have come across and a huge inspiration for youth out there.
You can check our other interviews here.