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    - to invest $100 mn in online gaming

It launched a multi-player online version of cricket and has roped cricketers Kapil Dev and Navjot Singh Sidhu to promote the game.

india Updated: Dec 19, 2006 18:32 IST

For the uninitiated, online gaming is a bigger industry than Hollywood in the United States with a turnover of more than $50 billion. Reliance Entertainment, an Anil Dhirubhai Amabani Enterprise, endeavours to replicate the same success in India.

Its online gaming portal on Monday launched a multi-player online version of cricket and has roped veteran cricketers Kapil Dev and Navjot Singh Sidhu to promote the game.

The former cricketers believe that this online game would be a new experience in India, and would offer a new avenue to cricket aficionados to realise their love for cricket.

Even otherwise, it would offer a new arena of entertainment in the country, where until now only movies and cricket were the primary source of entertainment.

The company intends to invest $100 million in the next three years and is in the process of developing an ecosystem for online gaming in India.

Rohit Sharma, COO Zapak Digital Entertainment Ltd, said that its site has been registering 20,000 new users on a daily basis. He added that the company intends to establish gaming portal all across the nation.

The company would set up exclusive zapak gaming stores in the country. In the first phase of expansion, zapak would set up gaming stores in 15 cities and would franchise similar stores for further expansion in the next phase.

"Our aim is to create as many as 1,00,000 gaming seats across the country with 50-60 million registered gamers in the next 18-24 months," Reliance Entertainment President Rajesh Sawhney said. He said the company would also set up a research and development centre to indigenously develop multi-player online games in India.

Siddhu and Kapil Dev did a live demonstration of the game, where they both played it. However the demonstration was short-lived and not very impressive.

What followed was a question and answer session which primarily revolved around cricket rather than

Kapil emphasised that online games help in strategising by the players and gave example of Formula one drivers, who took help of games to build the right mental framework. Similarly, Kapil said that the online cricket game could be of help to cricketers as well.

Kapil was all praises for pace sensation S Sreesanth for his spectacular performance in South Africa. When asked how he would rate the Test win in South Africa, Kapil said that it was the best ever.

He also showered praises on Ganguly for his strong will power and said that he was happy for Ganguly.

When asked, whether the current selectors were the right people for the job, Kapil insisted that everyone tries to do his job in the best possible manner, but not all selectors were the right people.

When asked whether cricket had become more competitive today compared to his times, the world cup winning captain replied, "It gets more competitive with every generation, and cricket certainly is more competitive today than ever before."

Siddhu in his quintessential style added that while the team selection process has not been above board, the processes by which selectors are selected is not above board either.

On Sreesanth's aggressiveness Siddhu insisted that he was giving the Proteas a taste of their own medicine.

First Published: Dec 19, 2006 18:32 IST