With the gaming sector witnessing an unprecedented growth in terms of app downloads and revenue on the back of pandemic-induced home confinement in the past couple of years, there’s a growing call for its regulation too. In one such development, Indian skill gaming startups and industry associations have reportedly sought a light-touch self-regulatory mechanism to regulate online gaming platforms in a meeting with Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar recently. Ramesh Kumar Raja talked to Mihir Sanchala, Assistant Vice President Technology at PlayerzPot, to get his point of view over the issue that online gaming platforms are facing today. Sanchala also talked about the new technologies being adopted by these platforms and how PlayerzPot is creating a niche for itself. Excerpts:
How do you look at the emerging trend of online gaming which has undergone a massive change, especially since the COVID-19 lockdowns?
There has been a meteoric rise in gaming and consequently, the growth of online gaming industry, as back-to-back lockdowns kept people shut indoors during the pandemic. As people started spending most of their time online, gaming offered an engaging distraction from the unusual lull in business activity and a popular form of social interaction amidst mandated social distancing.
This has resulted in a 40% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of the gaming industry from $1.1 billion in 2019 to an estimated $2.8 billion valuation by 2022, according to a Deloitte India report. Today, there are around 300 million Indian gamers. As this community grows, we see a strong interest in skill games because of the competition and excitement they offer in resemblance with real-life sports.
Gaming as an industry is on the steepest growth curve in India and needs a proper regulatory framework to streamline its operations and achieve better outcomes.
The adoption of new technologies such as AI, ML, data science, etc, can be a big game changer to create better experiences for users in the gaming industry. What’s your take on this?
The online gaming industry has seen a paradigm shift with involvement of young and tech-savvy users, increasing affordability of smartphones with better features, greater internet penetration, and an overall technological development. Emerging technologies such as data science, AI, ML, etc, have changed the face of gaming. As competition increases, players are adopting diversified models to attract new users and retain existing clientele on their platforms.
Understanding consumer behavior is vital in this aspect and data science is helping players achieve targets by analyzing outcomes, scores, quitting time, and several other factors. A responsible player would always focus on ensuring optimum user security while they are enjoying the game. PlayerzPot echoes that responsibility and believes that AI integration will check any form of data leak, ensure a safe environment for gamers, and appeal investment based on trust.
How can AR and VR be implemented in fantasy sports to enhance the user experience?
We can make player selection more interesting for users by developing store-based player picks and creating virtual rooms between users. So, instead of using mobile phones to draft your players, you are physically building your super team by using these technologies in your living room, around the world, or even at your place of work.
How has the model of gaming on cloud been one of the biggest boons of the industry which has helped handle the sudden upsurge?
Cloud gaming is not new. It allows users to stream and play games directly from the cloud, instead of a gaming device or specific hardware. It’s changing the way games are played, distributed, and sold online with its revolutionary technology that will help the gaming industry to grow faster.
Some of the major reasons behind the growth of cloud gaming is that it prioritizes user security and is cost-effective. The technology has brought fantastic gaming experiences to a large audience with low latency. Definitely, that’s the future of gaming and is already appealing gamers across all levels of expertise because of its perks! But audiences need time to transition totally into cloud gaming, with latency and gaming experience remaining to be major concerns for hardcore gamers.
How many games do you offer on your platforms and what have been their responses? Which are the most popular games that you offer?
PlayerzPot offers 9 fantasy sports-based games and 15 casual games. PlayerzPot has become the ultimate gaming destination offering a wide variety from fantasy, casual, real money gaming genres. Most popular games are Ludo, Rummy, Poker, Carrom, Fruit Slice, Snake Ladder – Ludo (Unique on our Platform)
What do you do to increase the recall value of your brand among gamers in terms of technology developments?
PlayerzPot relies on not one, but a whole gamut of latest technologies to achieve uninterrupted services by building highly scalable application layers. As a futuristic fantasy gaming platform, we maintain different hardware-based graphic elements to provide the best user experience during game time. PlayerzPot has laid down strict policies and protocols to check violations of the Fair Play Policy, resulting in a strong loyalty and building trust among users.
We are also planning to integrate AI in our product in the coming years which will improve the product in terms of security and quality. We will start working on our Metaverse project by the end of 2022. To achieve our target, we have grouped our plans into multiple phases such as USP finalization, MVP (Minimum Viable Product) building, scalable tech architecture design, market roll out strategy, and customer engagement strategy.
|“As a futuristic fantasy gaming platform (PlayerzPot), we maintain different hardware-based graphic elements to provide the best user experience during game time. PlayerzPot has laid down strict policies and protocols to check violations of the Fair Play Policy, resulting in a strong loyalty and building trust among users”|
What innovations and diversifications are you doing to stay ahead of the curve in India, which is a highly competitive market?
We are and have always been a customer-centric platform. Keeping pace with the latest technological advancement to enhance our user’s gaming experience is a key element in making sure we are ahead of the curve.
Currently, PlayerzPot offers various casual and fantasy sports to its users, but we are diversifying across genres and adding more games to our portfolio. We are currently stressing on our Real Money Gaming portfolio to sync its overall experience with the demands of Gen Z and millennials.
While we introduced Rummy in June 2021, several other casual games are slated for addition in the coming months. As a game tech platform, we have already considered Metaverse trend in our tech roadmap and are exploring it with respect to create some USP in the virtual industry.
PlayerzPot has also added data science as its vertical and has started hiring for the respective department. The approach has always been to innovate constantly, spot scopes for improvement and improve customer experience.
What are your thoughts on the gaming industry becoming more of a social media platform for millennial?
Traditionally, social media and the gaming industry have been separate entities, targeting different sets of audiences. Then, social media gave gamers a scope to break away from their consoles or desktops and interact. Nowadays, players share their gaming experiences on social media, they can share their live game, connect and interact with new users. Millions of people are logging in and out of their systems on multiple online gaming platforms every minute. In this way, they are fostering new connections with people across the globe and building gaming communities.
Realizing the potential of social media channels, the industry now shares information about new launches, rewards, campaigns, and studio updates to engage new players and keep current players in the loop. The players also get a chance to showcase his/her talent and become a celeb player. Therefore, it’s clear that this fusion of gamer profile and social media is here to stay.
What’s your opinion about the 5G technology that could be a game changer for the industry?
Mobile gaming is growing leaps and bounds in India with easy access to the internet and better smartphone penetration. Even then, a mobile gamer typically looks for better response time with either mobile broadband or Wi-Fi connection turned on. In competitive games, these factors and latency decide the winner.
Here comes the use of 5G services, which will make online gaming much more realistic. 5G will allow seamless gaming experience in the Metaverse and cloud gaming. According to a report published by Boston Consulting Group and Sequoia, mobile gaming comprises 86% of India’s gaming market. As 5G fast-tracks India’s internet experience on a whole new level, mobile gaming will receive a boost in use with cloud computing, Blockchain, augmented reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), 3D reconstruction, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of things (IoT).
|“5G will allow seamless gaming experience in the Metaverse and cloud gaming… As 5G fast-tracks India’s internet experience on a whole new level, mobile gaming will receive a boost in use with cloud computing, Blockchain, augmented reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), 3D reconstruction, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of things (IoT)”|
Virtual currency is becoming the next big thing for the gaming industry. How do you look at this development?
Cryptocurrency is a fungible virtual/digital currency based on Blockchain technology. It allows users to make payments online without going through traditional payment systems like banks and credit card companies, so it is a very fast and secure method for the gaming industry. This technology comes into play in online gaming by connecting a user’s digital wallet to gaming accounts and facilitating in-app purchases. Gamers can also use digital currencies to buy digital assets or coins that can be converted into real-world assets anytime.
Thus, owing to the crypto revolution, we predict the online gaming industry to be worth $19 billion by 2025.