As e-sports pitch hots up, online gaming firms rope in big celebrities

Online gaming is picking up steam in India and to put more focus on it, companies are roping in celebrities to promote e-sports.

Parth Sharma, General Manager of Ballebaazi.com, told Moneycontrol, “I feel the market is so huge right now. People have taken Virat Kohli and Dhoni. Dream 11, that associated with cricketer Dhoni to strengthen its leadership position in the online fantasy sports industry, is already a market leader. They are easily churning out Rs 5-6 crore a day in service fees, which is a huge amount. These companies are bringing in brand ambassadors so that they can take the first mover advantage.”

Recently, Mobile Premier League (MPL), a mobile gaming startup, brought on board cricketer Virat Kohli as a brand ambassador for a deal worth Rs 12 crore for a period of one year. The company, which is 10 months old, has around one million daily active users. It is aiming to bring this number up to five million after its association with Kohli.

Another online gaming company – PokerStars India – signed actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui as its brand ambassador. Experts believe that this will prove to be an optimistic move for the platform’s growth in the country. Despite its global presence, the company has been struggling in India.

Online poker platform PokerBaazi was associated with ace boxer Vijender Singh as its brand ambassador since Jan 2018. With this association, the brand intended to leverage his reputation as a serious sportsperson and position Poker as a sport that flourishes on sheer skill and talent.

Sharma points out another reason for these celebrity associations. “When brand ambassadors come on board, they bring in trust and credibility factor with them. A lot of these companies have already acquired a lot of users. However, the problem that they are facing is people not depositing money because of lack of trust. Hence, companies rope in celebrities to bring the trust factor so that people start depositing money for companies to earn. There’s no other way to make money for these platform as there is no advertising on their interfaces.”

Indian gaming companies, in recent years, have seen many celebrities from the film industry, cricket world and other sports come on board. Adda52, online poker and card game site, had roped in actor Minishha Lamba and West Indies cricketing legend Chris Gayle. Sunny Leone was signed by Ability Games, a software and game development powerhouse, for its online game 11Wickets.

For all the companies focusing on cricket, the time is right for a marketing push as two major cricketing events – the 12th edition of Indian Premier League, and the ICC World Cup – are around the corner.

The appetite for gaming in India is increasing and the proof of this is the growing number of game developing companies in the country, which has risen from 25 in 2010 to 250 in 2018, according to a recent Forbes report.

The report also pegs India’s gaming industry at $890 million and expects the mobile games market to be worth $1 billion by 2020. These numbers are encouraging global companies to invest in India’s gaming platforms due to which more money is moving through the industry.

Changing lives by education

Education is one of the most effective tools to break the cycle of poverty. How can the public and private sector work together to address the enormous challenge of ensuring access to quality education for the young people of Asia, Middle East and Africa?
While governments are, and should continue to be, the guardian of education systems, it is crucial to acknowledge and understand the potential of the private sector in supporting this key sector. Increased private-public partnerships in the education field have the potential of amplifying the impact of interventions supported through philanthropy and the international community.

Dubai Cares encourages partnerships between the public and private sector in the hope that this will increase the predictability and sustainability of funding, and broaden commitment to overall development goals, notably in the education field. We are a key player in a number of international platforms where public and private firms work together.

For example, public-private partnership is important to support ‘Education in Emergencies’. This support cannot be the sole responsibility of one entity — we should join our efforts for the common good.

A great example of this effort is ‘Education Cannot Wait’ — a financing mechanism for ‘Education in Emergencies’ that involves government, non-government, philanthropic and private sector in a concerted effort to make a lasting change for the millions of children and youth who are out of school due to conflict or crisis. Another recent example is our new strategic partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF) that aims to support the reskilling revolution with a push to provide skills to 15 million people by 2021.

Our aim is to build a network of public-private partnerships in 10 countries initially, to be up-scaled to a total of 15 national economies by 2020, over half of which will be developing countries.

Fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) is a priority for Dubai Cares. How does the NTD programme fit into the larger goals of Dubai Cares?
NTDs keep children out of school, parents out of work, and cause stunting and impaired brain development, locking societies into endless cycles of poverty. One of Dubai Cares’ strategic approaches to improving children’s enrollment and learning outcomes is through an integrated school health and nutrition model that is made up of school-based deworming activities, school feeding, and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) in schools. As part of Dubai Cares’ global efforts in fighting NTDs, 34.4 million children have benefited from our deworming activities in developing countries. Furthermore, out of the 34.4 million children who have received deworming treatment from Dubai Cares-funded mass drug administration (MDA) programmes, more than 2.8 million have also benefitted from integrated education and health programmes in countries like Palestine, Ethiopia, Angola, Vietnam and India.

How can leaders leverage leadership platforms like the ABLF to address the issue of universal learning in your opinion?
From my several field visits to Asian countries, I have noticed significant progress has been made in increasing enrollment, retention and completion rates and decreasing gender gaps. However, many children in some parts of the continent, are still out of school or do not have access to quality education.

I believe the ABLF is one of the platforms that can bring together governments, education stakeholders as well as partners from the private sector throughout the region to ensure education reaches the most vulnerable populations, that education systems work effectively for children, and that no child is left behind.