Though the industry is still at its nascent stage, it is developing very dynamically, especially with upskilling becoming a key element. All that’s needed is sheer commitment and consistent enthusiasm as the bullish phase of the market is here to stay,” said Warraich
As the world steps into a post- COVID-19 pandemic world, the new normal gets a large number of changes across different industry sectors through the sped up the reception of digital innovations. Amid the ongoing pandemic, the Indian mobile gaming sector is going to witness $1.5 billion of revenue in 2020 to $5 billion by 2025, according to a report by VC firm Sequoia and a management consulting company.
In a conversation with the BW Gaming World, Sunit Warraich, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CardBaazi, an Indian gaming platform talked about games, his vision, the COVID-19 pandemic, its effects on India and more.
Q. Tell us about the CardBaazi.com and Baazi Games? for the people who are not aware of it.
Ans- Established in 2014, as Baazi Games, our objective has always been to provide ‘the best and wholistic gaming experience’ to our users. Strengthening this commitment, we introduced CardBaazi.com as a one-stop destination for all types of card games. Revamped from RummyBaazi.com, it has created a shift from a mono gaming to a multi-gaming platform. The platform hosts game like Rummy, Poker and Call Break, and games like Dehla Pakad, Solitaire and 21 Puzzle are in the pipeline. We intend to add more games that fall under the ambit of the game of skill as we move ahead.
Q. Baazi Games recently announced diversification from its mono-game model to a multi-game model. What do you mean by that?
Ans- Baazi Games has always been a multi-game provider, starting from Poker to fantasy sports and Rummy. For card gaming, we transformed from RummyBaazi.com to CardBaazi.com basis our internal surveys which suggested clear trends that the users are looking for multiple games under one platform.
The platform’s objective is to cater to a wider userbase which will consist of both pro card gamers and casual card gamers with a focus to tap the latent offline card gaming economy and engage them as digital users with the intention to bring back the essence of age-old indigenous card games. In the process, we want to go beyond the tier-1 and 2 cities and expand our userbase to tier 3 and 4 cities of India, which will form the largest chunk of users in the future.
Q. What are the major changes you have witnessed in the gaming industry pre and post COVID-19 era?
Ans- The most important change that we have witnessed post-COVID-19, in India, is acceptance of the online gaming sector at large. With the onset of the pandemic, people engaged themselves more with online gaming than other recreational activities, which slowly developed as a community-building activity.
Q. How has the pandemic created more opportunities for such online gaming segments?
Ans- The pandemic has prompted behavioural changes in the users. While we were all stuck at home, online gaming became the biggest source of engaging with our peers and friends. The first period of the pandemic can be termed as the golden era for casual gaming as several new online games were launched and games, such as like Ludo and real money games, took the large pie.
In the second half of the pandemic, IPL 2020-21 became the turning point for OFS platforms as they became the best avenues for creating the most immersive experience for the users, in the absence of IPL matches in India. All in all, people are now aware and educated about the industry which will only percolate to the coming generations.
Q. What advice do you have for people who want to make a career in this sport?
Ans- With the progression in the gaming ecosystem, we see an eagerness in people, especially youngsters to make a full-time career in it. Also, the career options are not just restricted to being a gamer as one can also aspire to be a game developer, VFX, graphic designer and so much more. Further, with healthy competition in the industry, the employment opportunities in India span far and wide. Various specialized courses are also emerging in the country for the youngsters.
Though the industry is still at its nascent stage, it is developing very dynamically, especially with upskilling becoming a key element. All that’s needed is sheer commitment and consistent enthusiasm as the bullish phase of the market is here to stay.
Q. What according to you the present state of gaming in India?
Ans- As I stated, gaming in India has come a long way from recreation to community building. The market is in its bullish phase and it is the right time to invest in the industry. Esports is already set to make its debut at the 2022 Asian Games in Jakarta and sooner rather than later other gaming options will also find their due.
As per various reports published in the last year, the number of hours being spent playing mobile or online games has significantly increased and the online gaming industry has grown at a CAGR of 18.6 per cent. in 2020 from 2016. Moreover, the industry is estimated to reach US$2 billion by 2023 (in terms of rake fees earned. I strongly believe this trend is going to continue in the years to come both in terms of revenue and users.
Q. What can we expect from your company in future?
Ans- As Baazi Games and CardBaazi.com, we will continue to concentrate on improving the user experience on our existing as well as the upcoming products. We have always believed in providing tech-driven innovative solutions to our userbase and build from our experiences.
PokerBaazi.com is already a market leader and BalleBaazi.com has slowly and gradually made inroads amongst the big players in the OFS ecosystem. In the next fiscal year, our focus is going to be on driving CardBaazi.com’s offerings and penetrating a wider audience base, especially the untapped tier-3 and tier-4 markets.