On 9th of February, budding streamer and gaming personality, Archisman Pradhan, addressed a crowd of students at the SoC auditorium for Article-19. Brilliantly correlating why gaming should be considered a real sport, he spoke about the emergence of India’s newfound eSports scene, and the careers that come with it. Furthermore, he talked about his experience with handling backend tasks for eSports events.
The interactive session consisted of many curious faces with various intelligent questions. A plethora of topics were discussed, ranging from scouting of players to the negative stereotypes associated with gaming. Pradhan, with his detailed answers, eloquently represented the gaming community. Voices like his make the gaming industry seem like a solid play-field that should surely thrive in the future.
We got a chance to ask Pradhan a few questions and here’s what he had to say.
MTTN: Having a master’s degree in physics, it was an unconventional move getting into the gaming industry. How did this happen?
Archisman: After my master’s programme, I began applying to universities abroad for a PhD. However, universities take time to respond to PhD applications. I also ended up missing the fall deadline so there was an even lengthier wait ahead of me. SoStronk, this CS host app, was having trials for casters. I gave it a shot and ended up getting in. I decided to plunge right in and give it a couple of years as I had the PhD as my fall back option.
MTTN: The world is slowly moving towards a subscription-based model, but India has been quite slow to pick up to the trend. How difficult is it for SoStronk (the company Archisman worked for) and the gaming industry as a whole to monetize players?
Archisman: Oh, very! I left SoStronk about nine months back. But the thing is, by far the biggest age group of gamers are in the 14 to 19 years category. Obviously, they don’t possess a very high disposable income and only the very privileged few have things like a bank account and a debit card. Even if they did, the first thing they’d do is get a Netflix subscription. The gaming industry is actually struggling a fair amount because they can’t figure out other avenues to increase income.
MTTN: The general consensus about the whole gaming industry in India is that it’s a very risky venture. Is that really true?
Archisman: Every venture is bound to carry some degree of risk with it. The thing with India is that the numbers are not a problem. Top streamers, like Dynamo, get 120,000 live views on a daily basis. If you can mobilize that number and get influencers on board to push and market the product to the more casual gamers, that’s a huge opportunity. There is a whole first generation of internet users who, with the right content, can become huge consumers of e-gaming.
MTTN: That actually brings us to our next question – India has seen a huge boom in the number of internet users. Has that had an impact on the industry?
Archisman: Of course! Let’s just take streamers as an example. Before Jio, the number of views we got were in the range of 400 to 500. Post Jio, the best streamers get about a hundred thousand views. So having good, fast and cheap internet has acted as a catalyst. In fact, that has led to more companies entering the industry, such as HP, Dell and Asus.
MTTN: Do you think conglomerates entering the industry is a good sign? Once conglomerates come in, profit goes out of the window, and the main game is just customer acquisition. Take our payments industry, for example, all the big players are present but there’s no sign of a profit.
Archisman: Here’s the funny thing. Globally there are maybe two, but I definitely know that Professional Gamers League is in the green. It’s very difficult to turn a profit in this industry. The model that’s currently working is getting the maximum number of viewers because then you can sell these viewers to your sponsors and finance your events. Personally, I don’t know how long this model will last for. Players’ salaries and maintenance costs are going up because of companies entering the gaming space, so it’s definitely a bubble. We have to wait and see how long the bubble sustains itself.
Written and interviewed by Chintan Gandhi and Visesh Murali for MTTN.