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World Cup 2019: A look at how the gaming industry is trying to scale up engagement

Fantasy gaming platforms and mobile game apps are giving people more ways to engage with cricket.

June 03, 2019 / 05:27 PM IST

Thanks to the World Cup, excitement among cricket enthusiasts is at its peak.  The buzz is also high on the online front due to fantasy sports and mobile games gaining popularity and the industry is also trying to make the most of this opportunity by offering gamers new avenues to show their skills.

Talking to Moneycontrol, Kashyap Reddy, CEO and co-founder, Hitwicket, an online cricket management game, said: "We are launching a major update. We are launching special event called alliance World Cup which is a group of 20 users to take on with another group as a World Cup tournament. And one of the winners of the tournament will get a ticket to the World Cup."

Dream11, which recently became India's first gaming unicorn has created the official fantasy game for the World Cup, ICC Dream11. The platform this year also became the exclusive official fantasy game partner of ICC until 2023.

Another fantasy sports platform Ballebaazi is launching daily marathons and weekly leaderboards to keep users engaged.

Prithvi Singh, founder and CTO at Gameskraft, believes that because of World Cup, anything around cricket will have a promising future.

But what makes the World Cup an important proposition for gaming companies?

"Companies are trying to engage using cricket as a medium to create some sort of engagement platform with the IPL followed by the World Cup. As a game we know that the demand will be year round but during the World Cup you will have different sort of an audience who will normally not play a game but will start with all the talk about cricket going around," said Kashyap.  

Concurring with Kashyap is Saurabh Chopra, CEO, Ballebaazi, who said that "cricket enthusiasts wait for this event for four long years. There is nothing bigger than the World Cup for a cricket fan and the fantasy industry is gearing up to make the most of it."

Hitwicket is betting big on the World Cup because it is expecting to attract more users from UK, Australia and other cricket playing countries. Around 35 percent of the company's user base is from outside India.

The platform is expecting to add one million users during the World Cup and is targeting a higher percentage of non-Indian users to join the game.

On the other hand, Ballebaazi is targeting three million active users by the end of the sporting event and is planning to launch more sports on its platform shortly after the World Cup ends.

"The thing with these events is that people are spectators but people want to engage more. Whenever there is a real life parallel going on then a lot of people who would otherwise would not go and look for you will look for you. These events increase the traffic," said Keerti Singh, co-founder and VP-Growth, Hitwicket.  

But after the World Cup will there be a slowdown in the gaming market?

Players in the industry think otherwise.

“IPL ended and people felt a void and the craving for cricket based content is there. In fact, we have seen a spike in downloads post the IPL. And this is something we have noticed last year and the year before that as well, said Kashyap.  

Chopra is optimistic about the fantasy sports space and believes that there will never be a slow down. "Today, cricket is being played throughout the year with many international fixtures and domestic leagues taking place every month. Also, other sports like football and kabaddi are growing in popularity giving the gamers more fixtures to play."

The fantasy gaming platforms and mobile game apps are giving people more ways to engage with their loved sport.

According to Singh, traditionally people watched matches on television but there are 400 million cricket fans who are now watching cricket on mobiles/ streaming platforms and this number is only going to increase. 

Maryam Farooqui
first published: Jun 3, 2019 05:24 pm