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Regulation will give mobile gaming much-needed legitimacy: Games24x7

Regulation will give mobile gaming much-needed legitimacy: Games24x7

Games24x7 co-founder and CEO Bhavin Pandya says that the gaming industry needs to unify in order to push for regulation so that the industry is treated as a legitimate business activity.

Regulation will give mobile gaming much-needed legitimacy: Games 24x7 (Photo: Reuters) Regulation will give mobile gaming much-needed legitimacy: Games 24x7 (Photo: Reuters)

At a time when 400-odd players are crowding India's online gaming market, digital skill gaming company Games24x7, known for its flagship mobile games like RummyCircle and My11Circle, says that exclusivity and experience are going to be the biggest differentiating factors for companies going forward.

"Technology is going to play a key role in driving engagement. What is the exclusive content that I'm able to provide on my platform and how can I make the experience more engaging? These two factors will define and differentiate gaming players," Bhavin Pandya, co-founder and CEO, Games24x7 told Business Today.

One of the biggest hiccups in the mobile gaming industry with over 450 million users is the lack of regulation, especially for real money gaming because there are concerns that it might lead to problems like addiction and border on gambling. The industry, however, pushes for self-regulation.

"The industry is actually doing a fair bit to self-regulate. Gaming as a form of entertainment is a legitimate business activity but because it's so nascent, there are a lot of questions. However, one of the things that needs to happen is for the industry to unify. We need to have a central regulatory body or an association of which all gaming companies need to be a part and then together that body goes to the government to try and identify the kind of things that we need to do to regulate this space because that gives industry as a whole more legitimacy," Pandya suggests.

Pandya also wants to take his company to international markets like the US. "We have plans of international expansion. What we're focusing on even in the US is on mobile games, especially casual gaming," he said.

Some of the biggest trends that will define the industry, he said, are augmented reality and gamification being used for education and infotainment. "Gaming is not as alien and novel as it used to be. There's a lot of hype around casual games and e-sports. This is because internet is becoming accessible in the mobile phone very rapidly," he said.

And not just casual players, people are now even looking to take up gaming professionally and platforms like Games24x7 are big on promoting that as well. "If we see the right kind of opportunity, we'll partner with such players and teams. We're open to new partnerships, investments, acquisitions etc. but our focus directly continues to be on real money skill gaming and casual games," he said.

Backed by investors like Tiger Global and The Raine Group, Games24x7 employs behavioral science and artificial intelligence to drive engagement for a user base close to 70 million. "Our data science team has grown 8x in the last few years. We're a technology and data science company that happens to love gaming so much that our application of tech is on gaming," he adds.

During the pandemic last year, there was a surge in online gaming but as the economy started opening up, companies started seeing a drop in engagement time. Now, the challenge for them is to sustain the numbers. "A lot of activity dropped as people started going back to work. Today, it's not at the June levels but it isn't at the pre-March level either. The pandemic did expose a lot of people to online gaming. It has stabilised at a higher level now the growth of revenue needs to be sustained," he said.

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