Bored of work from home? This Pune-start up is here to help

With work from home becoming the new normal the past year and a half, Pune-based startup SuperGaming tapped into the mood of office workers by launching a suite of games called ‘Bored’. Designed for teams to play on Slack, it features attractions such as ‘roasting’ your colleagues, writing funny captions for memes and ‘Icebreakers’ — where you share something outlandish about yourself that nobody would believe. Today, Bored is being used by 4,000 companies globally, from PhonePe to The New York Times.

Founded by Roby John, Navneet Waraich and Sanket Nadhani in 2019, SuperGaming has created a number of successful mobile games such as MaskGun, Devil Amongst Us (which is getting rebranded as Silly World) and Tower Conquest, besides the engine that runs the official Pac-Man, among others. During the pandemic year, the company added 30 million new users, 70 per cent of whom were from other countries. “Games are the new social network as this is where people spend the most time. Being at home during the lockdown, most people have probably exhausted their OTT content and, what we have noticed, are spending time in games,” says Roby, CEO of SuperGaming.

In August, SuperGaming announced that they had raised $5.5 million Series A round from major funding organisations. “Earlier this year, we scaled the company in terms of users and the team. At the start of the pandemic, we were about 50-55 people. Now, we are 135 people and will be bigger by the end of the year,” says Roby. “We are trying to put India on the global gaming map. The country is one of the largest consumers of games in the world but not well known for making games. We have to change that,” he adds.

As it looks ahead, the company is keeping its eyes fixed on the people who play the games. This helped them notice that 15 per cent of their users would come to the game not to play but to chat with their friends. “So, we decided not to limit our products to just shooting games. We are focusing on letting users play social, casual games together, such as Catch and chor-police. We also built an audio-social community, by adding audio chats to all games, and this made the games a hangout, where people come together, hang out and play for much longer,” says Roby.

SuperGaming’s biggest product remains the shooting game, MaskGun, with more than 50 million downloads, while Silly World has registered 10 million users in less than three months. The company is in the process of bringing an Indus Valley-themed battle royale game called ‘Indus’ to the market in 2022. “This game will also run on lower-end devices. Last year, we had a large growth spurt, with a lot of interest coming in from people wanting to play an India-made game but also, most importantly, finding our games highly accessible,” says Roby.

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With the world returning to offline activities, does the company foresee reduced interest in mobile phone gaming? “I love that the woris coming back to normal. The reason we have grown over the years without any marketing is word of mouth. We look forward to people speaking about our games, telling their friends about it and playing together with friends. We feel this would fuel our growth even more,” says Roby. “Our games are skill-based, and people get better as they keep playing. Hence, these games will continue to grow. Gaming is a habit that does not change. This is the future of entertainment, and we think that gaming will consume a large chunk of your wallet and attention over the years. This behaviour is not going back the other way.”

What will, however, change is that the company is adding screen-time reminders so that children and adults play responsibly. “Even too much of a good thing is bad, so bringing in controls to remind people if they have spent too much time playing will allow them a chance to cool down.

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