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Increased internet proliferation, smartphones & technology adoption pushed startup growth in India: Rajat Bansal, CTO, Games24x7

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Startups are the pedestal of growth and innovation in the business world. India being the third largest hub for startups is witnessing a boom in the culture with the onset of new-gen technologies. The technology trends have reshaped the online gaming industry in India and also opened doors for new opportunities for startups in the industry. Highlighting how entrepreneurial culture has evolved in India with the evolution of technology and how it shaped the online gaming industry, Rajat Bansal, CTO, Games24x7 interacted with Express Computer in an exclusive interview.

With rapid adoption of technology post the pandemic, not only businesses but people as well moved to digital platforms for even the basic tasks. How has such a transformation steered the startup culture in India?

The swift adoption of the digital-led world has not only revolutionised the way businesses operate but has also profoundly influenced the lives of individuals, fundamentally altering their interaction with technology. This remarkable transformation has undoubtedly had a significant impact on the vibrant startup culture in India, particularly within the realm of online gaming.

Factors such as increasing internet proliferation, smartphone penetration, technological advancements, and the utilisation of digital payment systems have significantly bolstered the growth and success of online gaming startups in India. These factors have not only expanded the user base but also enhanced the gaming experience, attracted more players, and opened up new avenues for revenue generation, ensuring the continued development of the online gaming industry.

As a result of these factors combined with innovation by online gaming companies, industry reports peg India’s gaming market at $2.6 billion in FY22 and is projected to reach $8.6 billion by FY27. This phenomenon has not only presented an opportunity for entrepreneurs but has also unlocked an untapped potential within the Indian gaming industry. 

Online gaming is the new trend and it’s definitely not restricted to just kids these days. So, how are you leveraging artificial intelligence to offer personalised gaming experiences?

The world of gaming has undergone a remarkable transformation, transcending the boundaries of age and captivating a diverse audience like never before. Online gaming has in fact become one of the top five sectors in the entertainment industry in India, as per industry reports.

At Games24x7, we leverage Data Science and Artificial Intelligence to offer hyper-personalised experiences that cater to the diverse interests and preferences of our users. Hyper-personalisation is the process of using AI, ML, and real-time data to display highly curated products and content to our users. It involves treating each user as an individual with distinct tastes and preferences, enabling us to provide a unique user experience that’s different for each player.

We think of our tech stack as an ultimate enabler of ML models. Our ability to customise the game playing experiences based on user choices and interests is what sets us apart. For example, hyper-personalised playing environment recommendations, entry fee segmentation, or unique offers can be shared using unique customer data such as demographics, playing patterns and preferences, etc.

Hyper-personalisation is key for us to identify a player’s gameplay propensities and curate journeys for that user. 

We’ve recently stepped into the 5G era. How has this impacted the online gaming industry? 

The 5G technology is all set to democratise network speed and reliability in the second-largest smartphone market in the world, which is a significant tailwind for the gaming industry. With over 90 percent of the overall online games played on mobile phones in the country today, 5G will be a key accelerator for mobile gaming.

Enabling high throughput and ultra-low latency, 5G will provide truly immersive experiences to players. The fast and stable connections will open up new growth opportunities for the industry by attracting more players and audiences and facilitating content enrichment.

Brand-new interfaces, new gaming services, rich content, and innovation in the space of AR/VR are all on the horizon with the advent and gradual adoption of 5G.

Player engagement and retention is one of the key factors for a successful gaming company. How are you managing to do that? In what ways are you harnessing the power of data to boost your business and take well-informed decisions?

As a company, we are focused on providing the best innovations and experiences to our users. Our user-centricity is critical to driving growth, creating customer value, and boosting retention.

We use homegrown advanced user segmentation and experimentation systems, which are used for hyper-personalised targeting. We leverage advanced analytics powered by ML and AI to forecast or predict user behavior allowing our teams to provide unique offerings and engaging content.

We have very experienced data science and engineering teams, which work tirelessly to identify new ways to gather player insights. In fact, over the past four years, our AI and data science team has grown 8X, forming a strong collective across multiple verticals and specialties through collaboration with our engineering, product, and business teams.

Can cloud be a game changer for the online gaming industry? Also, does it impact the user experience?

Absolutely, the cloud has already proven to be a game-changer for the online gaming industry. With the rapid growth of cloud computing, game developers are now able to leverage the scalability, reliability, and flexibility of cloud infrastructure to deliver immersive gaming experiences to users worldwide.

Today, a lot of games include betting with real money and users’ bank accounts are linked with the gaming apps. How susceptible does it make a user to cyber-attacks? What preventive measures Games24x7 is taking to ensure cybersecurity and data protection?

Consumer protection is a collective priority of the legitimate online gaming industry. As pioneers in the industry, we are focused on steering the industry to a sustainable future and treating consumer protection as a priority. 

With the Ministry of Electronics and IT appointing a nodal ministry for the industry and the introduction of rules for online gaming that prioritise consumer centricity have further armed this focus and the real threat for the consumers from the predatory offshore operators can be mitigated. 

On the cyber-security front, we have designed and deployed highly secure and consistent systems which are not directly accessible to anyone within or outside the system. Additionally, we have the third party services in our infrastructure to safeguard us from attacks or any other malicious intent. These include, but are not limited to, measures such as anomaly detection, rate limiting, etc.

When it comes to adopting advanced technologies in the gaming industry, what do you look forward to in the immediate/near future?

The integration of burgeoning technologies such as 5G, blockchain, AI is driving hyper-personalisation of customer experiences, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) is driving immersive customer experiences. These advancements, among others, in the gaming ecosystem will drive significant growth for the sector.

The next growth for the industry will come from the content developed on the back of these technologies which will put India on the global gaming map.

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