The brains behind Mortal Kombat, Call of Duty talk about how cities like Pune are taking gaming business away from China

The strong IT setup and infrastructure in the city is one reason that helps in the smooth functioning of a creative studio with high data management needs.

Written by Garima Mishra | Pune | Published:October 25, 2016 9:56 am
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The brains behind some of the most popular games like Mortal Kombat, Halo, Forza, Star Wars, Mass Effect, Cause 3, Dark Souls 2, WWE2k15 & 16, Call of Duty — Aaron Hall and Mike Spalding — were in the city recently. Talking about how cities like Pune are taking game developing business away from China, Spalding said, “Pune has a vast pool of creative and art talent that allows us to address the high-level creative requirements of the global gaming industry. One of the reasons for this talent pool is the large number of extremely good art colleges in and around Pune, making it one of the best places to get a creative team.”

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The strong IT setup and infrastructure in the city is another reason, as that would help in the smooth functioning of a creative studio with high data management needs, added Hall. The lessons and learnings of the sister BPO industry has helped the game art outsourcing companies in Pune in providing best-in-class customer experience to clients.

Associated with the Lakshya Digital Studio in Seattle, US, Spalding is the Character Art Lead, Hall is the Art Director.

As for China, the duo expressed that it has been around in the game art outsourcing space for almost 20 years. It was a go-to destination for all art outsourcing globally. But, over the past five to six years the wages for Chinese artists have gone up substantially which has had a huge impact on the production cost of global game studios. Till few years back, global game developers and publishers did not have any option in Asia and had to work with China in spite of language problems which often led to inefficient production structures.

“While there is no available data to quantify the volume of game development work that may have moved from China to India, we at Lakshya (both at our Pune and Gurgaon studio) have seen a significant upward trend in volume of high quality work from big game titles moving to India. In Pune itself, our team strength has gone up from 25 to 100 people,” said Spalding.

Commenting on the talent of Indians in the gaming industry vis-a-vis other countries, Hall said, “A few console cycles ago, the standard for quality in India was not where we find it today. Now when we think of art services from India, the quality that comes to mind is high and much of that is due to the local art talent.”

Talking about career opportunities and growth avenues in the gaming sector, Spalding said that the growth in the Indie game space and the advent of new technologies like VR and AR are fueling the demand for game content production solutions. Gaming as an industry offers career opportunities in different functional areas such as designing, 3D and 2D art creation, animation, programming, testing, project management.