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.