Loading...

Gaming influencers eye million-dollar deals through streaming platforms

Gaming influencers eye million-dollar deals through streaming platforms
Photo Credit: 123RF.com
Loading...

Indian gamers and gaming influencers are set to rake it in as the e-sports market in the country matures. Last week, Indian game streaming platform Rooter signed local professional esports team GodLike to an exclusive streaming deal it called the “biggest esports deal of its kind in India.”

While the official value of the deal was not disclosed, industry observers say it’s is worth over $1 million per year.
Though still small by global standards, a million-dollar deal for game streaming in India is a new phenomenon. Industry sources who spoke to Mint said this is most likely the first deal of such value, and is several times bigger than previous ‘large’ deals in the Indian game streaming arena— such as Rooter’s contract with esports team Orange Rock in March this year.

Orange Rock is an e-sports team that specializes in popular mobile game Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI). Industry watchers say a tussle between two streaming platforms —Rooter and Loco—along with others who are looking to enter the market, could be just the right thing for Indian gamers, who have long waited for a slice of the billion-dollar global e-sports pie.

Loading...

In fact, industry watchers compared this to the tussles between Microsoft, Amazon and Google years ago, which made millionaires out of several global gamers. In August 2019, Microsoft poached US-based professional esports player Richard Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins from popular streaming platform Twitch with a contract reportedly worth up to $30 million per year.

In India, million-dollar contracts for esports players or teams to stream their gameplay is just the beginning. For instance, Rajan Navani, founder and chief executive of gaming and digital entertainment firm Jetsynthesys, said the rise of gaming deals in India reflects a global trend, and streaming platforms are keen on capturing the subscribers that some of the country’s bigger names in gaming bring with them.

Ankur ‘Jauntytank’ Diwakar, a professional e-sports player, agreed and claimed that esports is being watched more than physical sports in India today.

Loading...

“The streaming market is huge—esports is already streamed on multiple platforms, and now, even over-the-top (OTT) streaming services broadcast tournaments. Given that every platform is looking for exclusive content to drive engagement and expand their user bases, there is strong motivation for streaming companies to sign more such deals,” said Navani.

Rohit Agarwal, founder and director of gaming-focused influencer market firm Alpha Zegus, said that Rooter’s deal with Godlike will likely lead competition to make similar moves. The company’s competition includes game-streaming startup Loco and unicorn Dream Sports (which owns sports streaming platform Fancode), which some say will stream games eventually.

Piyush Kumar, founder and chief executive of Rooter, said the platform also facilitates brand partnerships along with streaming deals. Loco could not be reached for a comment on this story.

Loading...

Agarwal added that the biggest individual gaming influencers in India earn anywhere between ₹5 lakh and ₹20 lakh a month. The top esports teams in India, on the other hand, earn between ₹20 lakh and ₹30 lakh per month, and even smaller teams are earning up to ₹2 lakh each month. These earnings, however, include tournament prize money, streaming partnerships and brand endorsements.

To be sure, global professional gamers and gaming influencers have been receiving such deals for a while now. In February, US-based Rachel ‘Valkyrae’ Hofstetter signed an exclusive three-year deal with YouTube Gaming. While the contract value wasn’t disclosed, industry estimates are that Hofstetter, who has over 3.6 million subscribers on YouTube, earns approximately $150,000 (about ₹1.16 crore) every month through streaming deals, brand endorsements and other activities.

Globally, game streaming has been gaining popularity since early 2010. Swedish YouTuber Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg is arguably among the earliest and the most popular of such streamers. But platforms like YouTube Gaming and Twitch focus more on serious PC gaming than mobile games, which are more popular in India – which gives Indian platforms a head start of sorts.

Loading...

The parent firms of Twitch, YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming, though, have a significant presence in India. They could easily turn their attention to these markets too, through servers hosted by Amazon, Google and Meta, respectively. In October 2020, Manish Chopra, director and head of partnership at Meta, had said that the company’s gaming viewership grew by almost six times in India in the year past.