Entrepreneurs, tech leaders, and investors bat for India’s potential to tap into the growing opportunities in gaming in India at the AWS GameTech Forum

At the GameTech Forum, entrepreneurs, tech leaders, and investors reveal why gaming is the next big opportunity
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In the last half a decade, online gaming gained a strong foothold in the Indian market, and emerged as a key entertainment industry. With 400+ gaming startups and with more than 500 million smartphone users as of December 2019, the sector continues to witness widespread adoption and growth. India is being increasingly seen as a region with a potential to become a top gaming market, with estimates suggesting that investments in the sector are likely to double in the next two years. 

To tap into this momentum and enable startups and businesses in the sector to accelerate their growth, YourStory, in association with Amazon Web Services (AWS), recently hosted the GameTech Forum. The Forum aimed to create a space to showcase, ideate and celebrate the innovation of the domestic gaming industry. Held on November 5, the event brought together some of the biggest gaming startups in the region as well as emerging and new startups, scaled-up gaming companies, investors and technology leaders on one platform.

“Gaming is one of the biggest opportunities in the country today. In 2016, the online gaming market in the country was $260 million and the market is expected to be $1 billion by 2021. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has encouraged the ecosystem to build localised Indian games. This is the opportunity we should be looking at and actively participating,” shared Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory in her welcome keynote.

Puneet Chandok. President, India and South Asia, Amazon Internet Services, highlighted how the company is bringing the best of AWS to India and its gaming customers. He shared,

“Game developers and gaming businesses today are at the forefront of innovation and they need highly scalable technology solutions which reduce the risks and costs. So, in addition to the AWS managed services, we are building additional gaming services for game developers. ”

He shared that more than 90 percent of the world’s biggest public game companies are using AWS. This includes global companies like Epic Games, Nexon, Zynga, Activision, among others and home grown players like Nazara, Junglee Games, Dream11, Gametion. He also highlighted how AWS is driving agility, scale, and innovation for its gaming customers by giving the example of Dream 11, which leverages AWS to support 5 million+ users in real time, and Gametion which went all-in on AWS and grew its DAU by 350 percent. 

He also spoke about how the gaming industry is driving new revenue streams and monetisation options.

“The e-gaming business has transitioned from a model that was dependent on download volumes and advertising to a model with diversified revenue streams built on consumer engagement and elevated experience. For instance, we are seeing new in-game revenue streams like chargeable expansion packs and exclusive customisable avatars, virtual coin packs, virtual real estate, monthly fees for ad-free experience.” 

The event also saw three interesting panel discussions

Panel discussion 1: Evolution of Games industry and how to build games that delight players

Moderated by Navdeep Manaktala, Director & Head, Startup Business, Asia-Pacific & Japan, AWS, the panel saw Anand Adkoli, COO, Moonfrog Labs; Manish Agarwal, CEO, Nazara Technologies; Piyush Kumar, CEO, Rooter and Shubh Malhotra, Co-founder, Mobile Premier League sharing interesting perspectives on many - from the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses to challenges and opportunities in the gaming industry as it continues to speed up growth. 

Key takeaways:

  • While COVID-19 brought about a massive upsurge in engagement, games that were social in nature, and multi-player games were top gainers.
  • There has not been a big dip in the numbers after the lockdown, indicating the stickiness of gaming in the region. 
  • The propensity to pay for virtual items is increasing because of users’ deep investment in the game. There is a solid adoption on in-app purchase in India. Startups and gaming businesses must capitalise on this further, 
  • There is significant adoption and engagement from India’s Tier 2 and 3 cities. 
  • Gaming has now not only emerged as a source of entertainment, but also a platform to showcase talent and socialise.
  • New gaming businesses must make games more interactive and active experiences, more social and pave the way for community building within the game.
  • Capture data to leverage it and not dismiss it. 

Panel discussion 2:  Building a scalable GameTech business on the cloud

This panel discussion featured Nitish Bugalia, Head of Product and Strategy, MyTeam11; Prakash Kumar, Co-founder and CTO, Rheo TV; Rishab Mathur, Co-founder & CTO, 9Stacks; Sandeep Agarwal, CTO, Games24x7 and moderated by Nari Gopala, Worldwide Technical Leader, Games, AWS, and saw industry leaders deep diving into the technology aspect of building and running a gaming business.

  • A good customer experience starts with a robust tech foundation.
  • Gaming startups must work on hyper-personalisation of their gaming experiences. They must also invest in fraud analytics to increase the trust factor and enable stickiness. 
  • It is important for gaming startups to create interactive and engagement features such as audio or video chat rooms to enable gamers to connect and interact. 
  • Micro social networking would become key for games to succeed. 
  • Another interesting factor that can make an impact is undertaking real- time personalisation and offering surprise and delight features such as last minute discounts.

Panel discussion 3.

In the panel on ‘Building and scaling a games startup: Investors’ perspective’ moderated by 

Sameer Pitalwalla, Head – India, Epic Games, saw Karan Mohla, Partner, Chiratae Ventures; Prayank Swaroop, Partner, Accel; Salone Sehgal, General Partner, Lumikai and Tejeshwi Sharma, Principal, Sequoia Capital India sharing analysis of the Indian gaming sector while also delving into the what VCs are looking out for. 

  • Creating intellectual properties around India’s traditional stories and culture is an interesting opportunity for the gaming sector to explore.  
  • Derivative businesses around gaming — be it live streaming or fantasy sports — is another big area of opportunity
  • Mobile gaming will be a large opportunity in the next five to ten years. Hence it is important to think mobile first w.r.t. the game format, engineering, environment and even publishing. 
  • The increasing investments in the Indian gaming industry is spurring innovation.
  • The generation of digital native entrepreneurs or the Gen Z entrepreneurs are ones leading innovation and making bold bets.

Best practices at display. An opportunity to strengthen the technology driving the future of gaming

The event also provided a comprehensive knowledge sharing and learning experience where technical experts from Amazon Internet Services Private Limited delved into aspects such as  game server hosting; enabling faster, smarter decisions with AWS serverless data analytics; architecture patterns for high performance multi-region, multiplayer games; among others. Rob Schoeppe, Head, WW Strategy & Operations, Games at Amazon Web Services (AWS) also shared the AWS GameTech Overview and explained the advantages of building a gaming business on the cloud. The demos from the AWS experts provided an opportunity for the viewers to interact with the experts and understand more about the AWS Game Tech services 

Leading gaming companies like WB Games, Gearbox Software, Supercell, Super Mega, Junglee Games, Pocket Aces also shared their best practices and provided an extensive analysis and insight into how they built their gaming platforms on the cloud and scaled their business and the many advantages that cloud brings for gaming businesses. 

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