What Gaming Masterminds Think the Future Looks Like
From advanced casual gaming experiences to the adoption of play-and-earn models, gaming has taken a giant leap in the last ~2 years. Where internet and smartphone penetration increased on the one hand, gaming became an exceedingly mainstream activity on the other hand. Today, we’re talking about Indian gaming surpassing Bollywood by 2023 and also giving close competition to the popularity of OTT.
At the first of our annual global virtual gaming event The Gaming Lounge 2021 conducted in December 2021, we witnessed gaming leaders sharing their expertise on trends across esports, cryptos, and play-and-earn. Here’s what they had to say:
The Future of Esports
As Anirudh Pandita, founder of Loco and Pocket Aces, put it rightly, 2019 was a watershed year in Indian gaming which saw the rise of PUBG or BGMI as we know it today.
That push led to a meteoric rise of esports where people not only downloaded large-size games but also engaged more with each other, consequently evolving esports into a spectator sport.
Moreover, with Asian Games recognizing it as a legitimate sport, there is an added layer of gratification which comes from representing your country, therefore further overcoming inhibitions and establishing this career path as a serious choice.
However, the biggest factor that has led to the wide recognition of esports is mobile gaming. It has pushed esports to a point where skill matters more than a person’s location and age, among other factors.
This promotion of the diversity of talent has set players apart, shown what’s possible, and given rise to deep adoption beyond tier-1 cities. With this, more startups are needed to cater to localized content, marketing, research, graphics, and much more, which ultimately is redefining the roles people can perform within the gaming industry on top of creating more work opportunities.
Similarly, as more people play, we can expect to see games with more depth. Emerging markets like India, China, and Japan can make the most impact in Western markets today with quality, original, and local content. In India particularly, a big white space is homegrown game developers, who can bring a culturally relevant insight while building games.
This demand for a better experience is also true for streaming platforms but in a different way. Since esports is being increasingly promoted around a community, platforms will empower gamers to not just create more content but also attract sponsorship, get closer to their fans, as well as adapt to the newer options of NFTs and crypto payments with efficiency.
With that said, while we’re seeing esports laying the foundation for a promising future, there are leaps it needs to take to grow further, such as ensuring more female participation. And leaders need to be prepared for the next big thing, as Ashwin Haryani, VP esports at MPL, pointed out, “Esports needs to be evolving irrespective of the platform, as long as it’s competitive enough.”
Cryptos, NFTs, and Play-to-earn:
The next big gold rush in gaming is being ushered by cryptos and NFTs. These are not only giving rise to startups catering to this shift but also leading existing companies to explore this option for better monetization and promoting tokenization. However, there are nuances that need to be factored in to build for this new reality.
Here, instead of developers being the only one supplying players with resources, now it’s players who’re exchanging them with each other. Moreover, this ownership also extends beyond to participants like artists and content creators who’re not necessarily players themselves, therefore increasing the scope of startups to factor in this new economy.
At the same time, Rahul Sood, co-founder and CEO of Irreverent Labs, added, “The incentives aren’t aligned with real gamers if it’s just about play-to-earn because then it does become a grind.” Rather, a play-and-earn model will both prioritize the sense of enjoyment users associate with games and provide an added incentive of earning.
But what kind of games are we looking at? Anton Backman, principal at Play Ventures, brought a very valid point into the discussion, saying that while startups are looking for ways to emulate existing examples, such as the one set by Axie Infinity, this space is still a blank slate.
However, better suited game genres in the mid to near future that can bring out the best of Web 3.0 could be free-to-play midcore games like RPGs, 4x strategy games that already enjoy deep economy from the free-to-play segment, and games based on skin economies, among others.
But when we talk about markets like India, we need to consider the insight Anirudh Rastogi, founder and managing partner at Ikigai Law, brought to our attention. While there’s considerable buzz around NFTs, it remains a state subject and startups building in this space will need to navigate while watching out for rules formulated by governing bodies.
All things considered, the bottom line is that we’re not just warming up to a new reality, we’re well in the middle of it, and it’s only about to get bigger. Going by the positive response during the event, we’re excited about organizing it each year to understand existing trends and anticipate what’s next for our gaming community.
If you missed these engaging sessions, we now have the event stream live on our YouTube channel. Catch our event playlist here.