I had the opportunity of talking to Nikhil Malankar. Nikhil is a passionate gamer and had previously built a successful game development company in India called GameEon. Now Nikhil has moved on to his next venture, Next Move Digital, which is also a startup in the gaming industry.
As a passionate gamer myself I am always very keen to talk to entrepreneurs in the gaming space so this was an extremely fun interview. Nikhil talks about how he started in the gaming industry and what his plans are for the future.
What inspired you to get involved in the gaming industry?
I have always loved playing games. Right when I was around 3 years old I remember my Dad had bought a brand new computer which had Windows 95 on it and one game: Doom. That was the first PC game I ever played and I remember playing it with my Dad till late nights at times. That was the moment that fascinated me to the world of games.
In the coming years I played many more games such as Jazz The JackRabbit, Road Rash, Midtown Madness, Need For Speed series, Grand Theft Auto series, God Of War 3, Uncharted series and many many more. I have always loved games from the deepest bottom of my heart and before an entrepreneur I consider myself a gamer first.
This spark of gaming and making something really fun to play that can be enjoyed by millions of people worldwide was sparked in 2009 when I invited one of my former co-founders at my place to share some photos of our school trip. I was in 9th grade at the time. During this time I decided to show him my copy of GTA Vice City, I had modded this game with a lot of custom buildings and cars.
This was the defining moment wherein my friend suggested to me that if I could mod a game then why not start a business to make games? THAT was the moment of creation of my career as a game developer.
Tell us more about your latest venture.
Currently I am running Next Move Digital which has yet to launch a new game but I am working with a small team to get it up and running and within a few weeks we will have a trailer for the new game along with a crowd funding campaign through which we are going to turn this into a reality.
Before this I was running the company GameEon which was focused more on mobile games, however, with Next Move Digital my focus is on the hardcore gaming market and we will be making games for PC, VR, consoles as well as mobile platforms. Next Move Digital is going to be one of the most innovative game development companies emerging from India.
Other than your current venture, what are some of the other entrepreneurial challenges you would want to tackle in future, if any?
I would love to be known in the field of game development. The main challenge I would like to tackle in entrepreneurship is to make India recognized worldwide as a serious gaming market. I believe that there is an immense amount of talent in India. We have millions of talented people here and the brightest minds in engineering and programming can be found here. There are also a number of talented artists and so it is incredibly important to bring these talented people together to create something that people would love to play worldwide.
The gaming market out of India focuses on a global appeal. I think that if we are able to build games that can somehow project Indian market onto a global level which would benchmark the quality of games being developed here then that would be amazing. I would love to make a game of that level. I have personally grown up playing games that have a global appeal and I understand what gamers love to play. This is a really interesting challenge to grow a hardcore gaming company in India. Currently majority of the game developers are focusing more on casual games.
I am also running an entertainment website by the name “Tell Me Nothing” (http://www.tellmenothing.com) which is a hobby of mine. I love writing and interacting with people so I have created this website as a platform to showcase everyone’s stories similar to Stannals.
Are there any entrepreneurs that you have always looked up to? If yes, please name a few of your favorites.
Many! I have huge respect for gaming legends like Trip Hawkins, the founder of EA Games for pioneering the world of gaming. Shigeru Miyamoto, the man behind Mario is a personal inspiration for me and his back story of how he came up with the idea of Mario is simply beautiful. Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games and creator of one of the most powerful game engines of all time, Unreal Engine. I also look up to Vishal Gondal, Ex-CEO of Indiagames who changed the face of gaming in India to a huge extent.
And speaking from business world, I love the drive and passion of Mark Cuban and Gary Vaynerchuk. I think these two define the work ethics and passion that entrepreneurs should have. And of course, Shah Rukh Khan. He has come from an extremely humble background and his journey as a actor and a successful businessman is just marvelous!
Can you share a personal experience with our readers that has had a profound impact on your life and how has it helped you become a better entrepreneur and a better person?
I think that the decision to move on from GameEon was the one that had the biggest impact on my life. As I had mentioned in my blog post (http://nikmlnkr.com/moving-
I was struggling with this decision but finally I came to a conclusion that it is the best one since I no longer felt happy working on the things we were doing at GameEon and it had become more of a routine than something that was started out of pure love and passion. The people with whom I worked with are true gems and good people, however, there comes a point when you don’t really feel like continuing with something because it conflicts with your inner peace. The moment I accepted this fact, it was clear to me that I have to move on from the thing that I started.
What is the long term vision with Next Move Digital?
My vision with Next Move Digital is to create hardcore games for platforms where hardcore gamers are. I am starting this venture with a horror game for which a trailer will be coming out in a couple of weeks. The main focus would be to come up with visually appealing games coupled with innovative game play.
Speaking of long term, Next Move Digital is going to be focusing on quality over quantity. Prior to this, at GameEon, we were focusing more on bulk games for mobile platform. It is going to be the opposite this time. This time, I am going to build a legacy of games which will be a benchmark for the Indian gaming industry.
Do you have a message for your fellow entrepreneurs from around the world who might be reading this?
Be true to yourself and don’t compromise on the dreams that you started out with. There is literally no need to please everyone around you and it is a waste of time to do so because it is impossible. If you feel tired, rest for some time. Don’t beat yourself up too much. This life is an experience that needs to be balanced.
There are going to be rough times and trust me, there must be tough times. Because only when you go through struggle, you realize the true value of success. Success isn’t overnight. Its a result of multiple nights of putting in your sweat, blood and tears.