Entertainment Jul, 30 2010

Entertaining franchise benefits

The idea of blending the concept of gaming cafés with the franchise model is intensifying in India. Zapak, a part of Reliance Big Entertainment, a company led byAnil Dhirubhai Ambani Group opted for franchise route to expand the presence of gameplexes ac

By Ramanjit Kaur
Feature Writer
Entertaining franchise benefits

The concept of online games and gaming cafés came into existence with the evolution of computers and internet. With the availability of improved internet connectivity, and its accessibility across the nation gave the entrepreneurs the idea of starting mass gaming websites and came up with the concept of ‘Gameplexes’. Gameplexes enabled them to reach to the widely located geographic consumers, thereby allowing multiple gamers to play games together at the same time. This is where the uniqueness of Zapak Digital Entertainment Ltd is found and the concept started gaining huge acceptance all over the country.

Stepping stones of Zapak

The rising popularity of mass gaming websites gave Reliance Big Entertainment a company led by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, the idea to cash-in on the booming gaming industry in India. In November 2006, the company launched Zapak.com, which brought a gaming revolution to India. Zapak.com is one of the largest online casual gaming websites in the world after Miniclip.com. Zapak Digital Entertainment Ltd is not just limited to online users rather it has marked its presence across India by launching a number of franchised gameplexes. As per Rohit Sharma, CEO, Zapak Digital Entertainment Ltd, “Zapak is India’s largest gaming company with interests in online gaming, physical games distribution, gaming cafes, MMOG publishing and mobile gaming.” He further added that Zapak gameplexes are an organised approach to create specific gaming centric formats to help gaming take off in India. Zapak is the first of its kind large format, high speed broadband enabled; world class organised gaming café chain in the country.

Model for expansion

Zapak Digital Entertainment Ltd is one of the few companies in the world that dominates the entire gaming value chain, be it content, distribution/retail and shared access. A share of the success goes to the franchise model that the company has taken to expand the presence of the gameplexes across the nation. Initially, the company started the expansion through company owned and company operated outlets and later took the franchise route to expand further. As Sharma says, “Having created a successful and profitable template through our 35 COCO stores, we realised the best way to scale up quickly was to go the franchise route and create a win-win model for both Zapak and our franchisees.”

Zapak has witnessed a huge traction from franchisees for the gaming café business. It has helped the company to scale up and expand its reach across India. Presently, the company has 87 outlets across 35 cities.

Franchising is the way forward for success

The craze for online games is reaching sky high as the companies keep on adding new and interesting games to this wonderful source of entertainment. Therefore, the industry offers immense opportunities for the aspiring franchisees. Getting associated with a well-established company like Zapak Digital Entertainment Ltd by taking up its franchise is the best lucrative way to get started with this profitable business concept. If you are interested in taking up the franchise of Zapak Digital Entertainment Ltd gameplexes, all you need to have is a graduate degree and should have good experience in retail business, IT, product, sales, marketing and operations training.

However, the franchisee is provided with a complete operations and SOP manual. He is also provided with a periodical training on new products and gaming knowledge.

Initial hiccups in the way to franchise success

Just like any other businesses, the company too faced some challenges during its early years. As the concept of internet and gameplexes were new to India, it took the company a good amount of time to create awareness about the brand. Besides this, the company faced a number of challenges with the booming of the retail industry. According to Sharma, “With the booming in the retail industry, the rentals sky rocketed and our business template was riding on rental spaces, so finding locations was difficult.” Other challenge that company faced was the broadband provision in mini metros and smaller cities as timely connectivity is still a hindrance in these places.

Sharma further added that being an organised player, comply with all legal licenses, software and management tools was a big challenge. The competition from non-branded gaming centres is still fierce. As they deploy pirated, unlicencesed games software’s etc, therefore, they are able to provide gaming at far cheaper cost, although the broadband experience, membership model and legal games deployed by Zapak eventually get the gamers at their centres.

Expectations from the brand

Zapak plans to bring to India some of the world’s best MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game)titles by the international renowned developers. Crazy Kart, the leading casual racing MMOG by Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd. was launched in September 08 and Runescape by Jagex Studios, the most popular MMOG worldwide in terms of users was launched in October 2009. There are plans to introduce at least five to seven MMOG’s within a couple of years. Jump Games, India's premier mobile gaming and publishing firm, is also a part of Zapak Digital Entertainment Ltd.

As far as the plans for expansion are concerned, Zapak Digital Entertainment Ltd is targeting over 100 cities/ towns with focus on big cities as well as tier II and III cities to open more franchised gameplexes in the next two to three years.

In short, the gaming industry is booming and the franchise opportunities in it are immense.

Related: Flying high with profits

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