Pakistani duo building first AR cricket game

Cricket is taken pretty seriously in the sub-continent. The sport has been used as diplomatic cover to ease political tension, end international isolation, and help bring people together.

Cross-posted from Techniasia

If there is one force that can singularly bind together the 1.5 billion people in the region, look no further than cricket.

Fans eat, breathe, and sleep cricket. The popularity of the sport is adequately explained when one realises that former players across Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka have gone on to have successful political careers.

For entrepreneurs Ata Kirmani and Anas Riasat, founders of a Pakistani startup called GameDotPlay, the market of die-hard cricket fans presented a unique opportunity.

“Existing cricket games for PCs and consoles take away the thrill and excitement of the sport and make it boring and mundane,” explains Kirmani. “We wanted to give fans a more hands-on experience.”

Driven by the hype for the recently-concluded Cricket World Cup, the duo developed Cover Drive, an augmented reality cricket experience, designed to work with Kinect and the Xbox 360. “It is the first of its kind,” says Kirmani.

Showing off in malls

The founders explain that their initial vision for Cover Drive was to market it primarily as a customer engagement tool. They attempted to sell the game to multinational companies for use in brand activation exercises, receiving significant attention.

However, the timing wasn’t right, and as teams from the sub-continent were knocked out of the tournament, interest in the product fizzled out. They did manage to display the game in several malls and events across Pakistan, and gained a large amount of interest.

Gamers were happy with what they saw and demanded more.

In its current form, Cover Drive looks impressive but has some limitations. There is only one option: to bat out an over, with no multiplayer experience.

Motion detection is also rather choppy, suggesting that success depends on luck rather than skill. However, the founders are quick to explain this is a result of several factors.

“We developed Cover Drive for use with the original Kinect, which is outdated and does not provide an enthralling experience,” explains Kirmani. “Our next version will be much better.”

Riasat, who is the creative brains behind GameDotPlay, affirms that they believe there is a vast market for cricket games.

“We developed Cover Drive in only three months, and have learnt a lot along the way, which will help tweak the model for better user experience,” he explains. “However, an overwhelming number of international queries came our way, after which we were convinced there would be significant interest in console and PC platforms as well.”

The startup has recently been accepted for incubation at the Microsoft Innovation Center in Karachi, which the founders feel will significantly help with refining the technical aspects of the game.

However, it remains bootstrapped, and both Kirmani and Riasat continue with their day jobs to furnish the funds necessary to keep it going.

“We are actively looking for investors,” adds Kirmani. “Both of us want to quit our jobs and do this full-time.”

Share your thoughts

It’s great to see a couple of clever lads from Pakistan taking on the big boys and using Kinect to create a game for the lovers of cricket.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with AustAR Labs and its readers.

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