Wednesday , June 29 2022

Metaverse, NFT Based Pay To Earn Models Will Drive Gameplay Evolution: Raghavan

Startups can provision and de-provision resources quickly and without risk, allowing them to innovate faster and more frequently. Being in the cloud also allows game-tech startups to launch and expand their games in global markets, said Kumara Raghavan, Head-AWS Startup Sales Segment- India, Amazon Internet Services, in interaction with BW Gaming World. Edited Experts: 

Q1. How has cloud technology led to a boom in game-tech startups?  

Ans- When it comes to scaling on the cloud, it is no different for game-tech startups as compared to startups in any other business segment. Cloud provides significant cost savings and cloud-native features like autoscaling allow game-tech startups to seamlessly handle spikes in user traffic during peak events or seasons without making significant investments in resources which otherwise lead to under-utilization. Cloud also allows games startups to experiment, test, fail fast and iterate in their journey of building engaging games. Startups can provision and de-provision resources quickly and without risk, allowing them to innovate faster and more frequently. Being in the cloud also allows game-tech startups to launch and expand their games in global markets and use the same templates to efficiently and quickly deploy, launch and scale games in new countries. 

With the increase in the popularity of gaming apps, there is also a corresponding increase in security attacks like IP Flooding, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and bot attacks which, in a traditional on-premise environment, are difficult to prevent. With the new gaming apps hosted on the cloud, cloud-native security services like AWS Shield Advanced and AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) come in handy to secure resources and block malicious attacks. Besides, cloud environments continue to be better protected by leveraging the latest security protocols. Cloud also provides resilience during peak traffic ensuring no drop in user experience, whereas on-prem deployments are more susceptible to failures during peak load. 

Q2. What changes have you witnessed in startups in the gaming industry in the pre and post COVID-19 world? 

Ans- During COVID-19, as the entire country was under lockdown, gamers started adopting various gaming platforms cutting across genres like real money games (RMG), multiplayer games, casual games and more. Fantasy sports saw a decline during this time as physical cricket tournaments were banned. Some of the gaming apps in the card games segment saw a 3 to 4x increase in new user registrations during the lockdown period. As the ban on physical tournaments like IPL and World Cup T20 lifted, Fantasy Sports apps also saw an increase in traffic and new users. 

A recent report by Lumikai Capital and RedSeer states that there has been an increase of 40 per cent in first time paid users in 2020 and an increase of 50 per cent in 2021. The average weekly time spent on games has increased to 3.6 hours from 2.5 hours a year ago.  Besides the lockdown, the key drivers of this growth are (1) large young population (approximately 500M people in the age group of 15-35 years), (2) high internet penetration (world’s cheapest data rate of less than $0.1/GB, fueled by the launch of Jio telecom network and 4G speed of approximately 18 Mbps in 2021 vs. 3 Mbps in 2015), (3) rising disposable incomes which is expected to create 234M paying gamers in 2025 vs. 96M in 2021 and (4) games finding favour as a mainstream form of entertainment-driven by the pandemic induced lockdown.

Q3. What are the solutions cloud technology provides for scaling and growing startups? 

Ans- Cloud technology has democratised game development by providing end-to-end services required to build, test, launch and scale games. AWS not only provides infrastructure services like compute, database, storage and content delivery networks (CDN) but also advanced analytics and AI/ML services to engage and retain players better, improve monetization of games by targeting relevant ads and offers to the right set of gamers and detecting and preventing fraud and collusion in real money games.  

The cloud also provides enterprise-grade data security, protection, improves agility and speed of execution and keeps costs affordable as gaming startups scale. It also ensures resilience in the face of unexpected business challenges. 

Q4. What according to you is the current state of the overall Indian gaming industry, as far as startups are concerned? 

Ans- The Indian gaming industry is expected to grow to US $7 billion by 2026 (CAGR: 26 per cent). The fastest-growing segment of the market is e-sports (CAGR: 40-45 per cent), followed by casual and hyper-casual gaming (CAGR: 30-35 per cent), mid-core, hardcore and RMG gaming (both at 25-30 per cent) and PC/console gaming (CAGR: 10 per cent). 

Women comprise 22 per cent of players and they comprise a significant base of the hypercasual (37 per cent) and casual gamers (28 per cent). Non-metro players account for 62 per cent of the player base and are the fastest-growing segment. Gaming companies are developing and launching games based on Indian mythology, which have found early traction amongst players. 

Besides these, international gaming companies are setting up base in India, for example, Ubisoft, France established two gaming development centres in India, Rockstar Games, the US acquired Dhruva Interactive in 2019 to enter India and PayTM and Alibaba Group’s AGTech Holdings, China formed a joint venture in 2018 to launch Gamepind – a localised platform hosting popular casual and sports games, which is now known as PayTM FirstGames.  

Q5. How is AWS making a difference in the gaming sector, in a country like India? 

 Ans- AWS is at the forefront of driving innovation in gaming. AWS allows customers to rapidly spin up resources as they need them, deploying hundreds or even thousands of servers in minutes. This means customers can swiftly develop and roll out new applications and teams can experiment and innovate faster and more frequently. If an experiment fails, a startup can always de-provision those resources without risk.  

AWS also allows startups to pay only for the infra they use and pay for technology as they consume it. Earlier startups used to overprovision resources to ensure they had enough capacity to handle user demand at the peak level of activity. With AWS, they can provide the right amount of resources, knowing that they can instantly scale up or down along with the needs of their business which also reduces their costs and improves their ability to meet customer demands. 

Q6. Do you think the government can do anything to boost or support the startups in India to help the gaming sector? 

Ans- The government can be a catalyst to accelerate the growth of the gaming sector in India by setting up physical gaming accelerators in key technology hubs, providing physical infrastructure, mentorship through a network of gaming leaders and building connections with various ecosystem players to foster innovation and provide support.  The gaming industry is also in short supply of game designers, engineers and creators. The government can introduce courses focused on game design and development in design institutes like NIDs as well as technical institutes like IITs, NITs. 

Q7. What are the future trends in the industry? 

Ans- Cloud gaming subscriptions models:  Subscription services have taken hold in the entertainment world. Modern consumers are now accustomed to receiving entertainment via subscriptions and gaining access to a library of continuously updated content for a fixed monthly fee. In cloud gaming, all processing and storage are done on servers in the cloud data centres and the resulting graphics are streamed to a player’s display. Consumers may find cloud gaming services even more appealing when the time comes to upgrade to new hardware, for example, during the launch of the next generation of consoles. Such cloud-native games—exclusive to and solely playable within the cloud—will be the ultimate driver of cloud gaming. The launch and availability of 5G will be instrumental in making cloud gaming ubiquitous.  

The advent of metaverse: Metaverse is creating new genres of highly immersive gameplays which will increase engagement and the time spent on games.  Metaverse will also enable pay-to-earn models where games will have tokenised in-game assets allowing players to collect them as NFTs (NFTs are virtual representations of real-life items like video games, songs, etc. that hold real monetary values and can be purchased using cryptocurrencies). In order to help gamers make money, these games will allow players to accumulate and trade playable characters, weapons, vehicles and other in-game assets as NFTs. Metaverse and NFT based pay-to-earn models will be the key driver in the evolution of gameplay. 

Hypergrowth of e-sports: The e-sports industry contributed to India’s economy during the pandemic. A young population and the affordability and accessibility of smartphones are the keys to the thriving e-sports sector. As per a report by EY, the e-sports industry is expected to surpass the biggest sports franchise in India in terms of prize money by offering a total prize pool of Rs 1 billion by FY2025 while spawning 1.5M players, 85M viewers, 20+ broadcasters and several brands, organisers and publishers. With such opportunities, we expect the sector to attract more investors, innovation and new entrants in the market.  

About Abhishek Sharma

Check Also

Gaming Industry Undergoing Massive Changes: Praveen Dwarkanath

From mobile, online to fantasy gaming, Indians are not just playing all these games but …