“SICO is more than just a PUBG Mobile alternative. We want to develop our own identity; our product is different, our perspective is different”: Viyogi Anand, Co-founder/CEO of Indic Arena

The newest addition to the mobile battle royale genre (Image via SICO Mobile)
The newest addition to the mobile battle royale genre (Image via SICO Mobile)
Subhradeep "Bucketbaba" Mukherjee

Dubbed as one of the alternatives to PUBG Mobile, SICO: Special Insurgency Counter Operations is a modern FPS mobile title. The game is being developed and published by the Indian studio Indic Arena.

The list of maps available in the game
The list of maps available in the game

PUBG Mobile's ban has left a void in the mobile gaming industry in India. Due to its popularity and impact on the gaming industry, this hole was felt nationwide, with everybody yearning for an alternative.

Characters available for playing
Characters available for playing

As expected, the upcoming title, SICO, got labeled as one of these alternatives. However, in a close conversation with Viyogi Anand, CEO of Indic Arena, it was made clear that SICO is not going to be an alternative to any game. They set out to create a unique experience for the players.

Different game modes of SICO
Different game modes of SICO

The game’s trailer and gameplay have already been released, and the pre-registration has commenced in the Google Play Store. SICO offers several maps, playable characters, killstreaks, and other multiplayer modes to choose from.


SICO: The developer talks about early development

In a talk with Viyogi Anand, the developer’s inspiration and motives behind developing SICO were made clear.

As per Viyogi, the game is in the final stages of development. Even though a final date is yet to be announced, they are hopeful of releasing the game within a few months.

Upon being asked about their early development, Viyogi shared a rather interesting story regarding how the development team came to form. He said:

“It was June 1st, 2020. I was scrolling down Facebook and saw a random post in ‘The Engineer Bro Group’. The post said: ‘I am an indie game developer currently trying to develop a game but yeah, lacking in men & money!’ That guy was Rajat, and I don’t know why I texted him on messenger that, ‘hey, let’s make it!’ After some chit-chat, Rajat told me one more guy is interested, Siddharth. I said, okay, bring him on!”

Together, these three formed Indic Arena and started building towards their dream, which is coming to fruition. The trio hit a common spot regarding the situation of the gaming industry in India being engulfed by the foreign market.

“The basic thought that was behind all this was, till now, we as Indians have made mostly 2D games. We thought that we let’s try, and yeah, we will be late in developing it, but yeah, we will come with a promising product! Because what I personally saw was it was not just a brain drain that was happening, but a finance drain was also happening because there were only foreign games in the market.”

The inspiration behind the game design of SICO

Inspiration can come in any form. For some, it may come from nature, while for others, the sheer creativity of the mind itself can serve the purpose.

As for SICO, patriotism and nationalism bore a heavy impact on the game design. According to Viyogi Anand:

“Yeah, in design, our inspiration was, like if I say in map-making or in designing the guns skins was our own country but yeah in a way to show the Indian feel that you feel it but it should not be over-exaggerated on the name of nationalism!”

Regarding the game mechanics, he added:

“And on mechanics, the inspiration was the reality, that’s why we are coming right now with the FPS thing, if you shoot a gun, you will not see your whole body, you will just see your hand and gun!”

According to him, they are part of the players who brand themselves to be the “old school gamers” who grew up playing various FPS titles. For them, nothing seemed more fit to develop than an FPS title.

The impact of the PUBGM ban on the development

Even though most of the mobile gaming community sees SICO as the next alternative for PUBG Mobile, the developers think otherwise. According to them, they were never developing SICO with the mindset of filling the void left by the PUBG Mobile ban.

The gaming industry in India is a free market, and anybody can pitch in ideas for a title. Even with the pressure from the community, which is dire to receive a mobile game that is worthy of filling the void, the developers were adamant about making a unique experience for players.

For them, the ban of a game has left them dumbfounded. However, they were in SICO’s development way before any news of PUBG Mobile being banned came. They were ready to go after the market and were confident in their product.

According to Viyogi:

“Since we were developing months before any ban news, so if you say as a free & fair market supporter, the ban was a bit strange for us. But yeah, as a developer, we had a little joy that now we are in a better position to prove ourselves! But yeah, now if you see the market’s composition, then it makes you believe that if your product is good enough, then you will have your share of customers no matter who your competitors are.”

He added:

“And when the name PUBG comes, we have said every time that we are not an alternative. We want to develop our own identity; our product is different, our perspective is different, so I want people to call it just a new game, SICO, not an alternative to any game!”

Edited by Ravi Iyer


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