India witnessed 20 billion games downloads, which was the highest worldwide. We see this as at least a $10 billion opportunity if monetized well. We are inspired by how Dream11 has been a role model for the Indian startup ecosystem on how to build a unit economics positive business with a clear path to profitability.
In an exclusive conversation with Ms. Saumya Singh Rathore Co-founders WinZo Games, SMEStreet unleashed cutting edge trends related to the online and digital gaming industry.
- How is the online gaming industry performing in India? How big is this market?
Reliance Jio created an infrastructure that got 300MM people to smartphones for the first time. These users are on an average spending 40-45 mins consuming content and playing games, making India one of the hottest and fastest-growing markets in the space, globally. In 2018, India witnessed 20 billion games downloads, which was the highest worldwide. We see this as at least a $10 billion opportunity if monetized well. We are inspired by how Dream11 has been a role model for the Indian startup ecosystem on how to build a unit economics positive business with a clear path to profitability. They also are a unicorn in the Indian gaming space.
- What are the drivers of online gaming in India?
- Large captive mobile-first audience connecting on a smartphone for the first time.
- Time rich Tier 2-Tier5 audience with limited off-line entertainment option, online social gaming the new way to hangout
- Real-money or micro-transaction-based gaming emerging as the viable model for India- an immediate 100X increase in revenue for under-utilized gaming assets
In the year 2017, with the entry of Reliance Jio, people in Tier 2- Tier 5 cities got access to the internet for the first time, paving way for evolution of the gaming sector with people spending 45 minutes playing games on their mobile phones. However, this massive engagement was not monetized to its potential. India has had the highest engagements and downloads from in the last decade but still contributes to the world’s lowest revenue, leading to gaming studios in India becoming merely back offices to generate content for the west. To solve this, we decided to build a platform, a “Netflix for Gaming”, a social arcade powered by micro-transaction. What is special about WinZO, that it is made for Bharat with 10 languages, a truly vernacular experience. Micro-transaction for bite-sized entertainment made the model viable, economically. We were very excited with the fact our players were making their first M&E transaction on the app. Today we have 20 million registered users, spending 55 minutes on the App per day on an average. 90% of our users are from T2-T5 cities, playing from 10,000, cities, towns, and villages across India. Our App is in 10 languages, and 80% of our audience is playing in Non-English.
- User behaviour is important in the adoption and growth of any trend. What is your opinion on the user behavior and user experience with online gaming in India?
90% of the users on WinZO are from Tier 2- Tier 5 Bharat. This is the truly mobile-first audience connecting on smartphones for the first time. They are time rich with limited off-line entertainment options in the real world outside. Whatever is there is expensive to sustain. Online social gaming is the new way to hangout. You can say it’s the arcade parlours coming online for them. Vernacular is adding exponentially to the experience of these users, making the product trustworthy for the user.
- You have vernacular capabilities on WinZO games, how is that factor influencing your user base?
WinZO caters to tier 2-5 Indian audience hence picking on regional languages was a must for us. Moreover, our emphasis is to personalize the experience on the app and make it as real-world as possible. Being vernacular has helped us penetrate in much deeper parts of Bharat- for 20% of our audience we are the first digital media and entertainment payment. The vernacular experience simply creates a sense of community amongst the users. They tend to be more interactive with others which in turn leads to more engagement on the platform- we want to be the familiar world and not the elitist place.
- How big is the user base of WinZO Games in India and Worldwide?
WinZO crossed 20 million installs in a record time of less than a year with 90% of its players playing from T2 to T5 cities of India. The platform has recorded more than 1.5 million bank accounts linked and is already clocking 200MM microtransactions per month. The average time spent is more than 55 minutes. We are currently operating only in India, but we are looking forward to expanding our user base in India and other countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and SEA.
- Have you planned any external funding for further expansion? If yes or no, please explain a bit here.
We are a unit economics positive business but if we do need to scale fast, we will need some external capital. We will raise when it’s the right time for the company.
- Gaming is often considered as a tool for e-learning, awareness building etc. Do you agree to this point? Does WinZO have any plans for the same?
Yes, we completely agree to this point. We see great power in connecting Bharat to the digital grid and getting them to pay digitally. We had used WinZO during the difficult times of Kerala Floods to get donations from our users- who ‘played for the cause’ and the money generated was donated. E-sports as a category was introduced in SEA Games, we intend to warm up India to the concept too. We have more than 600 housewives working with us from their homes on creating vernacular content! This is tremendous power in building a community that trusts the brand, we are focused on doing so.