Stewart Neal – Studio Director, Sumo India Studios sheds light on the state of the gaming industry in India

Stewart Neal – Studio Director, Sumo India Studios sheds light on the state of the gaming industry in India

Sumo Digital has game development studios in Pune and Bangalore.

The studio has contributed to blockbuster games like ​​Hitman 2, Forza Horizon 5, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure.

We had a chance to talk to Stewart Neal - Studio Director, Sumo India Studios.

Calling the video game industry “booming” in India would be an understatement. While smartphone gaming is dominating India, the country has seen growth in the PC and console gaming space as well. But, the consumer side of the gaming business isn't the only one that's growing. We have seen game development being outsourced to India as well. Sumo Digital, an international game development studio set up its first office in India in Pune back in 2007. Sumo India Studios has contributed to AAA blockbuster games like Hitman 2, Forza Horizon 5 (review), and Sackboy: A Big Adventure. The studio recently opened its second office in India in Bangalore to diversify its talent and of course, “provide specialized development services across a variety of console titles”.

We had a chance to chat with Stewart Neal – Studio Director, Sumo India Studios about the state of game development in India, their expanding studios and most importantly, what you need to do if you want to get a job as a game developer in India.    
Q: To begin with, can you shed some light on Sumo Digital, the studio, some of your projects and the games you’ve worked on? 

A: Sumo Digital is part of the Sumo Group and employs more than 1,000 people across Europe, the United States, Canada and India. Sumo Pune and Sumo Bangalore will now collaborate and jointly develop on projects together. 

Sumo Pune was founded in 2007 and was the second studio opened by Sumo Digital – working on highly acclaimed single-player and multiplayer games such as Hitman 2, Forza Horizon 5, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure. Since then, we have built a premium console and PC game development business in India and have developed video games with partners such as Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and more.

The reason for starting back in 2007 was to take advantage of India's talent pool. Gaming is a growing industry and looking at the skills you have in other areas like film and visual effects, this was a natural decision. Sumo Digital has grown to 11 studios, and we are looking forward to continuing to expand in key areas such as programming, art, design, quality control and production. 

Q: Sumo Digital recently expanded to a new Bangalore studio. Do the two offices – Pune and Bangalore work independently on projects or is it just a new location for the new talent? 

A: Sumo’s new Bangalore studio follows a period of continued global growth for Sumo Digital and marks the developer's second studio in India along with the expansion of Sumo Pune. The new studio will offer even more opportunities to provide specialized development services across a variety of console titles. 

It is especially important to have a studio in Bangalore, the IT capital of India, as there is a lot of IT and development talent that we want to leverage for the continued growth of Sumo in this country. 

Q: Why choose Bangalore as a new location for the studio? 

A: Bangalore has been a well-established city for IT, software and gaming for many years, and has a wealth of game development, VFX and animation studios as well as respected institutes developing world-class talent. There’s an existing pool of talent in Bangalore and we’re looking forward to collaborating with municipal and academic players in the city.

The city has a commitment to digital development which is so important for Sumo and offers a good quality of life for those living there. All of this led to Bangalore coming out as the top choice for the location of our next Indian studio.  

Q: Speaking of talent, can you shed light on the work the studio does in India? 

A: Since opening, Sumo Pune has been a tremendous success, growing to a 150-person co-development team across art, programming, design, QA and production. As mentioned, we have worked on major titles such as Hitman 2, Crackdown 3, Forza Horizon 4 and recently released Hood: Outlaws & Legends and Forza Horizon 5 in 2021. Additionally, we contributed to the full development of Sackboy: A Big Adventure which received multiple BAFTA awards. 

Q: Is Sumo Digital India working on a game fully developed in India? 

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to disclose any information on the projects we are currently working on. It’s highly confidential! 

Q: While the talent for game development is growing in India, can you shed light on the educational qualifications required for game development in India? Put simply, what does one need to do to get a job at Sumo Digital? 

India's game ecosystem is growing rapidly in terms of gamers and the ability to create games. The country has particularly good skills in the field of gaming software development, and there is also an increasing foundation of talent that has a deeper understanding of advanced game engines and how to operate programs. 

Educational qualifications really depend on which role you want to apply for. If you are looking to apply in programming, then you should know C++ and Unreal is a plus. 

If you are looking to apply to the design department, then there are several institutes where you need to finish your graduation and learn game design. For art, having knowledge of types of software like Photoshop, Maya, Max, and Procreate would be beneficial, and a game development school and or a course on art will also help your application. 

In addition, we also have jobs in management, as well as HR, marketing and finance departments too. 

Q: What roles in game development are available at Sumo Digital India? What qualifications are required for one to apply and what roles are available? 

A: Sumo Digital India has several game development roles available at the moment, including programmers, animators, UI artists, VFX artists, game designers and technical artists. Different roles require different educational qualifications, experience and skills. 

Programmers need at least four years of experience in C / C++, and animators need more than eight years of in-depth knowledge of traditional animation principles. UI artists need a portfolio of diverse UI styles, from casual friendly games to mature titles and other technical qualifications for different game development roles. For more information, please visit our website! 

Q: India is a very large market for mobile gaming as the barrier for entry is quite low. Can you shed light on the console and PC gaming market in India? Can you share specific growth numbers, etc? 

A: The Indian gaming market is valued at $1.02 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $4.88 billion by 2026, representing a CAGR of 20.83% during the forecast period 2021-2026. India, one of the world's largest youth populations, is expected to become one of the world's leading market destinations in the gaming industry. 

Sumo Digital is constantly striving to improve the overall gaming experience, releasing new games for a variety of consoles/platforms and PC, and making them available to players through these devices. The country's growth is driven by an increase in the young population, an increase in disposable income, the introduction of new game genres, and a surge in console and PC users. 

Q: About a decade ago, gaming was still looked upon as a taboo hobby by parents. Can you shed light on how you see that perception changing? 

The gaming industry is full of talent where individuals from different backgrounds can come together to play and work, with thousands of people joining the national gaming community each year. Things are changing as games have become one of the most exciting career opportunities for adults. 

Studies have shown that playing can improve concentration, motor skills, hand-eye coordination, competitiveness, new skill development, exercise, and even mental health and overall development. The perception from parents and our society has changed dramatically, and people are interested in games. 

Q: What are you most looking forward to in gaming in 2022 and why?  

A: The new generation of consoles were released in Fall 2020, and since then we are closely following where the market is heading. The Xbox Game Pass service is becoming bigger and bigger with every passing month, and recently there has been news about Sony’s PlayStation VR 2, which is interesting from a developer perspective. We are also closely monitoring how the audience’s taste in gaming changes, looking at trends like what works and what doesn’t.

Sameer Mitha

Sameer Mitha

Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels. View Full Profile
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