Startups
18th Parallel lets you convert your TV into a gaming console using your Android set-top box.

If you love immersing yourself in mobile phone games like Subway Surfer, now you can experience running on tracks, dodging trains while collecting points all on the big screens of your televisions. 

Casual gamers, Nishith Shah and Samir Patel saw a lot of potential in bringing these immersive mobile games to a larger screen–the television.

“Smartphones have given us access to many rich games apart from just snake. Apart from that, console gaming today is inaccessible to many Indians because both the consoles and the games are too expensive. So we wanted to bring these mobile games to television screens and make them accessible to all,” Nishith said.

With this idea in mind Nishith and Samir started working on a service that would allow mobile Android games to be played on the television and in November 2011 founded 18th Parallel.

What is the service?

Nishith and Samir built a proprietary technology that allows mobile games to be played on the television by integrating it with the Android OS.

So, if you have an Android Set-top box, using 18th Parallel’s service, you can convert your television into a gaming console and play popular mobile games on your television.

For this, 18th Parallel is working with operators that make these Android boxes to integrate this service into the set top box at the production stage itself.

That is the first step of the service–providing a gaming platform to play games.

Apart from this, the company has a service delivery platform that offers gaming as a service. This comes at a monthly subscription of a fixed amount, as low as Rs 50 per month.

So, when you purchase an Android box and set it up with your TV, the games also show up for you to play. Offers, promotions and updates also come as part of this subscription.

But playing these games will also require a gamepad or a controller. For this, 18th Parallel has made a ‘mobile companion app’ that turns your smartphone into a touch-sensitive mobile gamepad. The games on the television give you a QR code to download the app.

“You can either use the mobile companion app or a controller to play the games. A controller is not very expensive. While most of these mobile games require a swipe, touch action, these actions can be done with the buttons of the controller,” Nishith says.

The company has over 50 games on its platform. And to bring these games onboard, 18th Parallel does commercial licenses for the game developers all across the world so that their games can be played on its platform.

After getting its technology, platform and mobile app and initiating talks with several operators, 18th Parallel launched its platform with its first customer Airtel DTH in the beginning of April 2017.

Bringing in the bucks

The business model is technically a B2B one, as the service reaches the end customer indirectly. The company does not charge the operator anything for the gaming platform. 18th Parallel works on a revenue sharing model with the operator. This is the revenue that the operator earns through subscriptions for the game. 

However, if the operator needs any further customisation, 18th Parallel charges them an implementation fee. But no software licence fee is charged. From this revenue earned, 70% is shared with the game developer. “This is similar to the model that the Google Play Store or the App store charges game developers,” Nishith says.

The games too, undergo a strict quality check by 18th parallel before being integrated on its platform. “We have over 1000 games licensed. But we curate each and every game to check if it meets our quality requirements and works well when translated onto the television. In fact, out of the 1000 games, we only have around 100 console-quality games that have made it to our platform,”

Apart from Airtel, 18th Parallel is in talks with six more operators to launch its service with them. And while this will give it access to customers across India, 18th Parallel is also in talks with television operators in Europe and APAC to take its service global.

It is also working on developing additional services in partnership with television operators. It is expected to launch a range of gaming services over the next 12 months. 

Nishith and Samir have invested Rs 15 crores, which is inclusive of funds raised in angel and seed funding from private investors. Now that its service has finally launched after years of work, and more launches in the pipeline, 18th Parallel expects to break even in FY19.