Nishith Shah: Android console gaming is a new offering in India. Casual gaming on TV has been available so far via basic gaming services offered by TV operators on their set-top-boxes. However, these have suffered from quality constraints dictated to a large measure by hardware and software limitations. With operators now rolling out Android set-top-boxes, it opens the door to the exciting world of Android games on TV. Furthermore, with Cannonball Arcade from 18th Parallel, these can now be offered as a subscription service from the operator and playable using the smartphone as a gamepad by the consumer.
CQ: In April 2017, 18th Parallel has tied up with Airtel Digital TV to makes games available through ‘smart’ Set-top-Boxes to millions of DTH and cable TV subscribers. Can you elaborate on this development and the response in the last 2 months?
Nishith Shah: Airtel Digital TV has launched an Android TV powered DTH set-top-box called "Internet TV". On the Internet TV set-top-box, Cannonball Arcade and Cannonball Storefront power the official Airtel gaming service and the official Airtel app store respectively. The mobile companion app serves as a soft remote control for TV viewing and as a touch+tilt sensitive gamepad for playing games. The service is live with 85+ high quality Android games with many more games in the process of being added.
Regarding the market response, while we cannot share exact numbers due to confidentiality reasons, we can state that the customer pickup has been phenomenal with a very large number of units already out in the field despite there being a soft launch. Similarly, the response to the Android console gaming service has been several magnitudes better than legacy set-top-box gaming services, again, despite no sales or marketing efforts or promos. Customers are themselves discovering the gaming service, trying it out, and signing up for it directly from their TV screens. We are already logging multiple hours of game-play across a wide range of games even on weekdays!
CQ: What are the main challenges in your segment?
Nishith Shah: The main challenge in our segment right now is that the market is accelerating faster than expected by us.
Every operator that we meet is actively looking to go the Android set-top-box route and the product vendor ecosystem (including us) is scrambling to keep up. It is a challenge for us on the delivery side right now, so we are actively looking to slow down new sales activities.
CQ: Cannonball, 18th Parallel’s Android console gaming platform, powers the TV gaming service for the majority of the operators rolling out Android set-top-boxes in India. Our readers would like to know more about Cannonball?
Nishith Shah: Cannonball Arcade, part of 18th Parallel's Cannonball suite of products, enables an operator to offer a high end Android console gaming service to his end consumers. Cannonball Arcade contains 4 key parts that come together to provide a complete solution: