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Yearender 2021: 'Esports industry continued to be in the fast lane of expansion despite pandemic'

New Delhi, Dec 31: While the global COVID pandemic badly affected the overall sporting industry, the Esports and online gaming industry on the other hand continued to maintain an upward curve in the year 2021.

People continue to stay indoors as the world still battles the deadly virus and in a bid to keep themselves occupied and entertained, millions across the globe took upon online gaming. The situation in India wasn't any different as students and professionals took upon the challenge of testing their gaming skills in the outgoing year. The year 2021 also witnessed several amateurs turn professionals as they aim to build a career in this lucrative sport.

The year 2021 witnessed several stakeholders in the online gaming industry in the country work hard to exploit the boom in the sector. Gaming platforms came up with several innovations and ideas to help the existing gamers hone their skills and even train the budding talents.

In an exclusive conversation with Mykhel, Mr Varun Ganjoo, Co-Founder & Marketing Director at Baazi Games reflected upon the response his platform got in 2021 and revealed his plans for the new year 2022. Here are the excerpts:

MyKhel: How much growth have you witnessed this year on the platform?

Varun Ganjoo: We have grown our user base by over 50% this year to over 11 million users.

MK: What was the overall market trend this year?

VG: The growth of the online gaming industry in India is in sync with the growing trend of digitally transacting users, having already crossed 300 Mn. The industry, despite the challenges raised by the pandemic, continued to be in the fast lane of expansion.

MK: Which game/platform has caught the users' attention the most, and what has been the reaction of the players?

VG: 2021 has been a good year of product innovations for Baazi Games. There was a lot happening and every platform of ours had its own share of growth. While PokerBaazi.com launched its new award-winning mobile and desktop apps, there were a lot of feature enhancements at BalleBaazi.com.

CardBaazi was introduced with a multi-card-gaming interface with games like Rummy, Call Break, Dehla Pakad and more. We also enter the casual gaming space with Baazi Mobile Gaming (BMG). 2021 also witnessed a defining moment for Poker in India when PokerBaazi.com hosted the first-ever National Poker Series.

The NPS recorded 83K+ entries. BalleBaazi.com also hosted the National Fantasy Cricket Championship around the T20 World Cup. Over 60 Lakh teams were made in the course of the event. These campaigns were pivotal in proving that there's a lot more to these skill games than just the perceived monetary value.

MK: What were the challenges that fantasy sport has faced this year?

VG: Since Fantasy Sports is centred around on-ground sports, the on and off schedule of matches globally due to the pandemic has been a big challenge for the segment. In such a scenario, it becomes all the more challenging to retain players on your platform. However, as they say, winners take every challenge as an opportunity and that's exactly how BalleBaazi.com has planned its course.

Our teams have been aggressively working on enhancing product experiences and offerings. We introduced an informative feature called Player Intelligence which helps players with better-informed team creation. There's a lot more on the cards for 2022.

MK: What are your plans to achieve your goals in 2022?

VG: We truly believe that your product is the real king in the digital world. Hence, we will take the momentum forward in 2022 and keep adding more to our Made in India products. Along with our focus on product innovations, we have plans to take on creative content marketing in a big way. 2022 will also be a year of major user expansion and we aim to grow by over 100% in the coming year.

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Story first published: Friday, December 31, 2021, 15:53 [IST]
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