While F1 cars are yet to burn rubber on the tracks in Greater Noida, F1 lovers are already speeding through laps on international circuits on their PC and X Box screens. The love for F1 is in full gear as popular gaming portals like Zapak, ibibo and UTV Indiagames have seen a spurt in the racing car enthusiasts logging online. "The traffic on our regular racing games like Deadly Drive, Turbo jet, 3D car racing etc. is up 20% in the last three weeks," says Rahul Razdan (president products and operations) at ibibo.com. But while the online user looks for a surrogate sense of driving a powerful machine, Zapak comes close to offering the real deal as it launched the F1 2011, the official Formula One game for PC, PS3 and XBOX. Developed under Codemaster's exclusive worldwide agreement with Formula One World Championship Limited, F1 2011, Zapak has all the official drivers, teams and circuits featuring in the 2011 FIA F1 World Championship in their gaming version. "Even the Indian, Budh International Circuit in Greater Noida, which few people have seen up close, is already part of the game. And with background settings of night and day lighting for tracks, drivers named after the real F1 stars, and formats of international circuits copied to the very last detail, the user gets to actually go from 300 mph to 30 mph on bends and feel the force of the car," says Vaibhav Odhekar, business head at Zapak Games. This official experience can be got for R 999 for a PC pack, R2499 for an Xbox or PS3 pack.
Other online games like Dirt 3 on Zapak, which have representations of real life rally cars, have also seen a rise in users. Mobile phone gaming has also seen a marked surge. "There is more traction on mobile games. We have around 20-25 speed racing games that do well. The paid mobile download games section has seen a huge increase. It is at around 400,000 downloads per month," says Samir Bangara, COO UTV Indiagames. The most popular mobile games are Splitsecond, Cars2 (both are Disney games) and Motor GPP. The game subscription packages range from Rs 30-99 per download. "Our online games like Need for Speed etc that work on subscription of around R200 per month, are also very popular," adds Bangara who says the target audience is mostly 18-34 year old males.
"This rise is seen often when there is a real life sporting event taking place. Like the cricket games get popular when the IPL or World Cup is on. F1 followers may be niche but the racing experience is always popular," says Odhekar. UTV Indiagames also plans to take these hi-speed racing games to television sets. "With a tie up with Reliance, Airtel and Dish TV we plan to reach out to 20 million homes. We plan to launch it a week before F1," says Bangara. Mobile, online and console gaming have their virtual racetracks abuzz with racing fans quenching their need for speed.