Paytm First Games has grown to over 80 million registered users, says COO Sudhanshu Gupta
Paytm forayed into online gaming a couple of years ago with a new portfolio called Paytm First Games. Since then, the platform has expanded its catalogue to add fantasy cricket and classics like ludo. It has also grown exponentially – a whopping 200% growth in userbase and a 4x surge in gameplays in the first half of this year.
So, what's next for Paytm First Games? We spoke to Sudhanshu Gupta, COO, Paytm First Games to learn more about the gaming platform and also a variety of issues relating to fantasy gaming and more. Here are the edited excerpts.
Please tell us about the traction on the platform since the launch.
We have emerged as India's go-to gaming destination covering different genres including fantasy sports, casual games, and esports. Over the last few quarters, we have grown to over 80 million registered users. There has been a 200% growth in our userbase and a 4X increase in gameplays in the first half of this year.
The platform offers a mix of e-sports and fantasy gaming. Please tell us the vision behind the format.
Online gaming is a vast ecosystem which has different formats that click with different set of gamers. We want to be the go-to destination for all categories of gamers and not restrict ourselves to just certain formats. That is the reason we have a mix of games starting from Ludo to fanstay sports. Fantasy sports tend to draw one of the largest number of players on our platform. Fantasy Games provide a platform where sports enthusiasts can apply their knowledge, strategize, and experience the thrill of making the correct choices and getting their teams to win. Esports is another category that is fast gaining popularity in India. We have partnered with gaming giants including Riot, Garena, Supercell, ESPL for bringing the best of esports for Indian gamers.
Is fantasy cricket gambling? Is it legal? Please help us understand how it works. There are also talks of banning such apps. What is your stance?
Yes, there have been multiple instances where courts have also settled this matter. DFS is a game of skill and legal, just like chess and Quiz. Paytm First Games is part of multiple reputed Industry bodies like AIGF where retired Chief Justices and experts from sports fraternity make policies and charters. We follow self -regulatory charters and marketing guidelines and connect with the state governments from time to time to educate them about this new sector. We are quite positive that states will form policies that will allow online gaming businesses to operate in the future.
Please tell us about the technology under the hood. Are you using any cutting-edge technology?
All our skill games are developed in-house by our dedicated team of developers, gamers as well as designers. We recently announced the creation of a ₹10 crore fund to provide a launchpad to indigenous developers and design studios to promote their innovative games focused on Indian culture and folk tales. This provides an opportunity for studios for building exciting games, which will promote gamified learning on rich Indian heritage, mythology, and sporting history. We will organize a series of events and hackathons to identify young talented developers and curate games that have the potential to be successful across all user segments. We will also promote these games on our app and market them to reach our gamer base.
How do you plan to sustain/grow in the near future? IPL is presumably the biggest drawer for cricket fantasy apps. With its conclusion, how do you plan to create/maintain the buzz? Can we expect football and other kinds of games as well in near future?
There has been a 200% growth in our userbase and a 4X increase in gameplays in the first half of this year. We have onboarded the global sporting legend, Sachin Tendulkar, as our brand ambassador and aim to create more awareness about the genre of fantasy sports and esports in the country, especially in smaller towns and cities. We have set aside ₹300 crore for investing in growing the market for fantasy sports and other online gaming events during this financial year. Over the next six months, we will feature over 200 live events on our platform including international and domestic cricket tournaments, soccer leagues, and more.
With Sachin onboard, we will be able to create more awareness about the genre of fantasy sports in the country, especially in smaller towns and cities. Apart from fantasy cricket, he would help us to promote and generate excitement around all the other sports including kabaddi, football, basketball and esports.
What is next for Paytm First Games? What are your immediate and long-term plans?
Paytm First Games is the country's fastest-growing online gaming platform and is targeting more than 200% growth in the coming quarters. With the return of the live-sporting events, our platform now offers more active gaming categories to our users that is helping us to increase our user engagement exponentially. Over the next few months we would be bringing in more games under various formats and exponentially expand fantasy sports in India.