Gaming has emerged as one of the digital-first industries that saw tremendous growth over the last two years. Its prospects in India have been really bright too, with the country leading the charge in terms of engagement, business, and opportunity. The latest Covid variant doesn’t seem to have caused a major impact on the sector, in fact, the return to WFH could further propel the industry, say experts.
“The gaming and esports sector saw a tremendous spike in 2020 when WFH first became a norm due to the lockdowns. Marketing and advertising-related activities will go on as usual because there is already so much happening in esports now and in the months to come,” says Akshat Rathee, Founder and MD of NODWIN Gaming, a material subsidiary of Nazara Technologies Limited.
Sharing similar thoughts was Abhishek Aggarwal, Co-Founder and CEO, Trinity Gaming, a professional gaming talent agency. “We are lucky that the gaming or esports industry is quite flexible, and with us living in the digital world brand promotions or campaign launches won’t have a negative impact even if we are working from home. We have seen an increase in brands interested in collaborating with our gaming creators and in return they have got some great content and high engagement from the audience.”
According to Vishwalok Nath, Director, World Esports Cup, “As an esports tournament organizer, we don’t see significant changes to our marketing and advertising habits as the world returns to their homes. However, the pandemic has pushed a large amount of the population towards gaming, and we may see a slight bump in the number of gamers.”
However, Nath also adds: “This is not to say that the unlock and reopening resulted in any decline. It is evident with popular game distribution platform Steam setting a record with the milestone of crossing 28 million concurrent players at the start of January 2022.”
Indeed, gaming companies and industry stakeholders have formed their own metaverse of sorts, with game IPs, tournaments, brand sponsors, talent agencies and more, creating an ecosystem to advertise and market themselves and each other to an enthusiastic, already-engaged user base.
Sharing the marketing perspective, Aggarwal points out, “Advertisers have seen the kind of positive impact it has on their products when they collaborate with gaming creators. In the coming months, brands will continue to choose these creators as they do not need to step out or need any external factors to push the product. The creators engage and ideate smart content to make the products believable for their diverse followers.”
It is to be noted here that the homegrown gaming industry has attracted investments and opportunities for a slew of businesses, as well as professional gamers. Evaluated at $98 billion in 2020, the mobile gaming market is expected to reach $272 billion by 2030, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11 per cent. With respect to the user base, the casual gaming market in India has 420 million users, according to a June 2021 report by KPMG.
Sharing a glimpse of what the future holds for the industry, Nath says: “As we approach the final stages of the World Esports Cup (WEC) 2021, the industry can look forward to a digital felicitation ceremony to recognize top talent. Right after the conclusion, we will take time to start preparing for ESports Premier League (ESPL) Season 2 Behind The Scenes. As part of the preparation, we will focus our marketing and advertising on the 2022 slate of esports events, along with short-term competitive tournaments for our community.”
NODWIN also has big promotions and campaigns lined up for two very popular Nodwin IPs —Valorant Conquerors Championship and eISL. “We also recently acquired Rusk Media and merchandising brand Planet Superheroes, so we’re going to be busy on that front as well,” says Rathee pointed out.
NODWIN will also expand on the current offerings of Planet Superheroes by exploring partnerships with global publishers like KRAFTON, Gameloft and Riot Games to create innovative and locally relevant merchandise. It will be licensing offerings on games like BGMI, Valorant, PUBG PC, Asphalt and CSGO.
Assuring that the gaming industry is set to reach greater heights, Jaineel Aga, Founder and CEO of PSH, says, “There is huge untapped monetization potential for gaming companies via merchandising and we share a common vision in realizing this potential with PSH joining NODWIN. I believe we will get two immediate wins, a larger consumer base for our existing IPs and a new supply of licenses and partnerships in the gaming industry.”
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