Real money gaming (RMG) such as Rummy and Poker has captured a large share of the gaming pie in a short period, as the skill acquired gives the players the confidence and ambition to pursue real money gaming. Bunch of online games that are becoming popular during the lockdown has innovative survival scenarios, in keeping up with the COVID-19 health scare. What is driving the real money game in India is – the money involved – for a large part, as it allows players to win cash prizes while the country is battling with all its resources.
According to a Google-KPMG report, the online gaming segment is pegged at $1.1 billion by 2021. India is among the top five mobile gaming markets in the world with around 300 million gamers. With COVID19, this trend of more users and more time being spent on games is only multiplying however the fantasy sports segment is slacking as all sporting events have been cancelled.
Following the current trends during lockdown 9Stacks CEO and co-founder Sudhir Kamath shares in a conversation with AnimationXpress that, “Covid-19 has given a push to segments like Rummy, Poker, and casual gaming. However, it has put a complete halt to live sports, which in turn drives the fantasy sports business. Thus, this year will have a big negative impact on the online fantasy sports industry, but very positive for all the other segments. Millions of users who had never tried online games have become regular customers during this period, and existing gamers have tried many new genres of games, so it is building a very solid foundation for the future.”
During this lockdown phase 9Stacks has witnessed a sharp increase in gameplay due to more people staying at home (and having more free time). They have seen 30 per cent uptick in the number of concurrent users (which is, users who logged in and played games at the same time), and in total games played each day. In addition to that, referrals and new sign-ups have also increased by almost 100 per cent as compared to the pre-COVID period. They are seeing explosive growth in tier 2/3/4 markets as well.
By now it is understandable every organisation is practicing social distancing and therefore, working from home is the only viable option to keep the show running. Thus what crucial and challenging at the same time for offices was to build up a circuit that is compatible to work from home culture. Thus 9Stacks invested their time over the years to design their systems that are efficient and compatible for work from home, they have cloud-based servers which scale automatically, so that they could handle the surging traffic without any issues or downtime. They have managed to work effectively as a team remotely and have launched a number of new promotions, contests, and tech features in the last few months itself . Today they announced the launch of private tables features on the platform for all the players. Through the private table option, gamers can reserve tables to play with their friends and family anytime. As many new players joined in during the lockdown, the platform add new features for better gaming experience.
On asking whether RMG will able to retain the metrics of the COVID period in the post COVID period or not he replies “I think the coronavirus lockdown is going to have a big long-term impact on online gaming, just like demonetisation had on PayTM and digital payments. Many users who had never tried online poker (preferring to play solely with friends in person) have started playing online, and a percentage of them will realise that they enjoy playing online just as much, or perhaps even more (after all, physically you can only play one game at a time, whereas online you can “sit” on multiple tables at the same time, giving a whole new experience!). Overall, we think while the current 100 per cent increase in usage and revenue is transient, there will probably be a lasting uplift of 30- 40 per cent for online poker companies.”
He also believes that the gaming hours would hardly vary by one to two hours as it is right now, since the new users will become more acquainted with the online gaming features by the end of lockdown.