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Sudden banning of apps and games affects industry, gamers and creators: Gamerji founder

Sudden banning of apps and games affects industry, gamers and creators: Gamerji founder

Sudden banning of apps and games affects industry, gamers and creators: Gamerji founder
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By Prakhar Sachdeo  Apr 22, 2022 3:33:18 PM IST (Updated)

CNBCTV18.com caught up with Soham Thacker, the founder of Gamerji and had a freewheeling conversation covering the inception of Gamerji, the growth of the company, investor outlook on the gaming industry, support from the government, and what careers which can be built in the gaming industry. 

Gamerji is one of India's fastest-growing e-sports companies. Gamerji promises to bridge the gap between amateur amd professional gamers through its e-sports tournaments. The platform has been conceptualised in a way where gamers can compete, share content and win prizes.  The Gamerji mobile app has over 2.3 million users and has conducted over 29,000 matches since its inception. Some of the most popular games on the platform are Clash Royale, Call of Duty Mobile, FIFA Mobile, WCC3 and Ludo.

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CNBCTV18.com had a freewheeling conversation with Soham Thacker, founder of Gamerji, covering the inception of Gamerji, the growth of the company, investor outlook on the gaming industry, support from the government, and what careers which can be built in the industry.
Q: What led you to establish Gamerji?
ST: I have been a gamer for 20 years. But I was an average gamer. Plus I never had the right platform to express or compete as a gamer. So, I realised that the gap still persists. Most gamers still play games in their bedrooms, outside colleges, or outside cafes. They don't have a platform where they can improvise their skills or find like-minded people. And that community approach to gaming was missing. To address that I established Gamerji. The platforms helps you to participate in virtual tournaments, build your gaming stats and participate in pro-leagues.
Q. How has Gamerji grown since it got established?
ST: Gamerji started as a beta product in 2019. In 2020 came the lockdown and we saw some crazy surge in numbers. At that time we were catering to 50,000-70, 000 people. Today we have around 25 lakh people on the platform. We initially had only two games on the platform. Now, we have around 18 games on the platform.
Q. What are the issues for a gaming platform like Gamerji?
ST: The unregulated gaming industry is the biggest competitor for us. There are large-scale gaming tournaments happening via WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages and YouTube channels. The organised amateur e-sports only cover around 20 percent of the market. That is where the opportunity is for us.
Q. Do gaming platforms find favour with investors?
ST: I wish it was easy, but it is not. It takes numbers. There is convincing involved. When we raised money in our seed round, it took us at least nine months till money was in our accounts. Initially, it is tough, cause no one knows you. Then as we grow, there are targeted VCs. Then there are VCs who are actually interested. There are now unicorns coming out of the gaming industry. So VCs are getting convinced.
Q. Gamerji is expanding in tier-II and tier-III cities. Which cities is the platform targeting?
ST: We are most popular in tier-II and tier-III cities like Lucknow, Ahmedabad, and Pune. These cities have more aspirants. These cities give us a lot of traction. It is an observation that tier-II and tier-III cities' modes of entertainment is gaming where as in large cities there are multiple modes of entertainment. Also, the retention in tier-II and tier-III cities is more.
Q. What support is the gaming industry getting from the government?
ST: The government is still figuring out what this (gaming and esports) is. Ten years ago the government officials used to come to me and say that gaming is a waste of time and a distraction--it is taking attention away from academics. But with the telecom and internet boom, gaming is reaching the core. So now the government is framing policies. Good policies are needed to regularise real money-gaming aspects, also that the right set of audiences participates and that gaming does not reach the wrong hands.
It is my appeal to make certain regulations and certain dos and dont's for the industry so that the industry knows and we have a clear direction. The absence of regulations makes even investors apprehensive.
The sudden banning of apps and games affects the industry. It affects the gamers and the creators. I have known aspiring gamers who have put aside games because they no longer have the game to play.
Q. Are the Middle East and South-East Asia more favourable for gaming platforms?
ST: From a business standpoint we have two things which are very favourable in these markets. First, a higher paying audience. So our average earning per user goes up. Secondly, gaming is engraved in their culture. They have a massive fan following of certain games. The competition there is certainly less.
Q. What do you say to critics who are critical of gaming?  
ST: I say that anything that is done beyond a certain limit is harmful. Even reading on an iPad for long stretches of hours affects the eyes. So everything has to be done in moderation. Academics should not be affected if a gamer is a student.
That is where I come to my previous point, that gaming should be regulated. That is where certain rules and regulations should come from authorities. There should be some guidelines.
Q. What can budding e-gamers or e-sports players expect from the industry?
ST: It is just not gaming. There are so many other aspects to the gaming industry. There can be parallel careers. Game development, programming, motion-capture graphics and designing.
For example, if you interested in cricket, and you can not become a cricketer, you could become a curator, a sports physio.
There are so many ways in which you can associate yourself with the gaming industry. There are live-streamers who have made more money than certain Bollywood celebs (sic) just by streaming games. So there are so many ways to have a career in gaming.
Q Any message you want to send out to the gamers. 
ST: Please game responsibly. Diversify your time. Spend your time in other activities too. I game for two hours a day but then I spend time reading too.  Don't get addicted to gaming.
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