The Covid-19 pandemic may have crippled a lot of industries in a forced-economic scenario, but certain others have been catapulted to towering heights - specifically the digital gaming ecosystem. The online gaming market – projected to yield global revenues of $300 billion by 2026, up from $62 billion in 2020 – has truly come of age in India during the pandemic.
Fantasy sports was a foreign concept until ESPN and Star Sports came up with a free-to-play fantasy game called Super Selector in the early 2000s. It revolved around the now popular concept of selecting 11 players within a fixed game budget and points were awarded on the basis of players’ performance in the real world. This game became hugely popular during the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa.
Since then this concept has been massively monetized to modern fantasy cricket, by Dream 11. Users can now enter contests with a fixed amount of money and come away with cash prizes from a big prize pool. The advent of the Indian Premier League or IPL has added to the craze of fantasy cricket.
Gamezy joined the race of fantasy gaming applications in the early 2018-19 phase. By then, there were a lot of apps in a similar line of business - My 11 Circle, MPL to name a few. Last year, the fantasy sports industry, which consists of over 200 companies, has contributed Rs 3,000 crore in media rights, sponsoring teams, leagues, players and spending money in every single sports event
The Bangalore based app, Gamezy moved forward with fantasy cricket at its base, slowly adding fantasy football and kabaddi to its evolving menu. But, was that enough? Clearly not, because you cannot survive against 200 other players in the same market without being different. Hence, Gamezy evolved into this Super App which now caters not only to fantasy players but also to players who want to try out Rummy, Poker and other casual games.
Gamezy has changed the way Fantasy Cricket or Football is actually played. The addition of features like 2nd Innings and Live Fantasy has brought a lot of new users to their platform. During the IPL season in 2020, Gamezy started the Live Fantasy variant - where you can create teams of 5 players for 5 over phases during a live match, giving the user more chances to win from a single game.
2nd Innings was an earlier approach, to make a game of ODI cricket interesting. Usually, the audience gets bored during a 50-over game. But, with 2nd Innings now you could create a team for only the 2nd phase of the match with knowledge from the first phase and lesser players to pick from, thus increasing the probability to win.
Test match fantasy cricket saw a huge change, now you don't have to wait for 5 days to get your money if you played on Gamezy. You could make teams for all four innings of a test match, making it four separate matches within one match.
Bringing in the likes of Poker and Rummy to their already popular app, Gamezy managed to win through with a larger audience down Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka (Before the ban on online gaming with money). The way we look at Rummy and Poker games were changed by Gamezy after they introduced FREEROLL - where you could enter for FREE and actually win real money.
Casual games have been hugely popular during the pandemic for making a quick buck. Pick your favourite arcade game like - Snake, Pool or Ludo, enter a quick game for 5-10 mins and win easy money.
The craze for fantasy games is not going to slow down. Fantasy platforms have a good future ahead as the growth opportunities are excellent. But there are issues of consumer addiction, financial risks and being banned by some states. States such as Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Nagaland, Sikkim and Karnataka have passed laws banning paid contests.
The primary roadblock on all online gaming that involves real money, including fantasy sports, is governed by nineteenth-century gambling legislation that couldn’t have possibly accounted for the dynamic present-day growth of real money gaming.
Fortunately, policymakers are sitting up and taking notice. If legislation is to be enacted to support the growth of the online and digital gaming ecosystem in India - we will see unprecedented growth, which can even be termed as crazy. Currently, with the existing regulatory hurdles and grey areas, the industry has seen the rise of a host of unicorns in a relatively short time, with cumulative valuations almost reaching $10 billion.