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Influencer agencies groom gaming creators as demand soars

'The real opportunity in marketing, the thing that few people are talking about right now, is influencer marketing at scale.'

By  Saumya TewariOct 13, 2022 10:21 AM
Influencer agencies groom gaming creators as demand soars
With professional gamers and content creators attracting millions of followers on YouTube and Instagram, marketing agencies are trying to groom them, develop their brand and pitch them to companies. (Image: Top gamers - Lokesh Gamer, Rawknee, Techno Gamerz and Mythpat)

Note to readers: There has never been a better time for gaming and esports in India. While user traffic has skyrocketed in the last two years, 2022 is also a year of firsts for the industry. From winning the first medal at the Commonwealth games to the first televised BGMI series on primetime Star TV, the year has seen some big developments. With new brands and new players entering the market, esports and gaming have also become a popular marketing tool for marketers across the board. The esports market size in India has quickly scaled to Rs 3 billion in FY2021 and it is expected to reach Rs 11 billion by FY2025. Keep up with the big trends and big players in the space in our In-Focus special series.

As an increasing number of people take up online gaming, the demand for talent management firms, influencer marketing agencies and game streaming platforms is on a steady rise.

Professional gamers and content creators are attracting millions of followers on YouTube and Instagram and streaming platforms such as Rooter, this gives marketing agencies an opportunity to groom them for brand related campaigns and promotions. Gaming influencers garner fees in the range of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 50 lakh. Partnerships for over a year can go up to Rs 1 crore depending on their engagement rates and popularity.

A large number of gaming influencers, mostly aged between 18 and 30 years, are professional players of gaming titles such as League of Legends, DOTA2, Street Fighter V, and Hearthstone. They often stream their live matches on YouTube while interacting with fans through the comments section. A set of influencers have also become content creators who usually share the latest updates on gaming titles and tournaments.

Massive demand

To be sure, India is one of the top five mobile gaming markets in the world, with a 13 percent share of global game sessions, and is expected to add 40 million online gamers during 2020−22, making it lucrative for many businesses.

“Despite the ban on many trending games, gamers have found a way to create content by exploring new games. We had about two top gamers with us back then, and today we have close to over 40 gaming content creators from different parts of India," says Pranav Panpalia, an influencer-turned entrepreneur who founded influencer marketing platform OpraahFx.

OpraahFx is tied with big gaming influencers, including Techno Gamerz, Mythpat, Desi Gamers, Magsplay, GamerFleet, Bixu and RawKnee among others. In 2020, Panpalia launched OP Gaming to provide end-to-end gaming services and help companies launch games through influencer marketing.

“Roughly, we saw about a 45-50 percent jump in revenue compared to last year,” he says.

Brand Integrations

The majority of brand deals for gaming influencers are coming from gaming platforms such as Mobile Premier League or endemic brands such as Asus, HP India, and OnePlus. However, new categories such as FMCG, OTT, entertainment, crypto, lifestyle, home appliances, and telecom are categories that are approaching agencies to work with gaming influencers.

In October, for instance, Mythpat (Mithilesh Patankar), with over 2.2 million Instagram followers and over 1 million followers on YouTube, worked with Airtel for the Airtel 5G Plus launch campaign. He has also partnered with Lenovo, Amazon Prime Video and AMD India among others. Rony Dasgupta - aka Rawknee with over 1 million collective followers on YouTube and Instagram - has also worked with brands such as Flipkart and Mountain Dew.

“As YouTube allows creators a privilege to build a more loyal fanbase, creators on this platform are at times paid higher. While gamers may have higher ticket sizes per brand integration, their net income is similar to that of other creators. Roughly, other creators may do about 5-8 brand deals a month and a gamer may do about 3-4,” says Panpalia.

While the primary fan base of gaming influencers is often GenZ aged between 13 and 24 years, pandemic-led lockdowns have also brought young professionals into the online gaming fold. Many creators are looking at gaming as a full time career as well.

India is one of the top five mobile gaming markets in the world, with a 13 percent share of global game sessions, and is expected to add 40 million online gamers during 2020−22, making it lucrative for many businesses.

“We are delighted to know that the youth has started viewing content creation as a way towards concrete careers. We currently have around 1,000 creators from different platforms under the umbrella of Trinity Gaming India. With our campaigns and projects, we have taken a leap of approximately 200 percent in our business in the last one year,” says Abhishek Aggarwal, co-founder of Trinity Gaming, a talent management firm.

A set of game streaming platforms such as Rooter are also helping new gaming talent to be discovered and to gain followers. Rooter, for instance, launched a game streaming feature in March 2020 breaking the monopoly of YouTube, which has the top gaming streamers with millions of subscribers. Rooter says that it has a user base of over 48 million, recording an average of 14 million hours of viewership on the platform/month.

The platform has grown its brand partnership base from 25 to over 100 brands including Flipkart, Amazon, Intel, HP, Pizza Hut, Godrej, PhonePe, CoinDCX, Unacademy, Byju’s, Chingari and Josh.

“We have recorded a 59 percent spike in MAUs (monthly active users) to reach 15.2 million MAUs. We now plan to reach 25 million MAUs by the end of 2022 at that stage we will have a 30 percent market share,” says Piyush Kumar, founder and CEO, Rooter.

Driving impact through engagement

More than anything else, gaming creators offer massive scale and strong loyalty to brands, the industry executives say.

“The real opportunity in marketing — the thing that few people are talking about right now — is influencer marketing at scale, particularly game content creators and live-streamers," says Tushaar Garg, founder and CEO, StreamO Media. He adds, "This is a new and rising breed of creators with stable, strong community relationships who know and love their fans — fans who reciprocate adoration built on authenticity and respect.”

First Published on Oct 13, 2022 8:25 AM