Business Today

Play To Earn

Winners are getting more than chicken dinners by playing and streaming video games online.
Devika Singh | Print Edition: April 21, 2019
Play To Earn

Naman Mathur, a 22-year-old from Mumbai, has been playing games and uploading videos on YouTube since 2016. But the entry of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) has turned out to be a game changer.

His channel called Mortal had only 600 subscribers on YouTube in June 2018. But the number has now skyrocketed to over 1.5 million. Mathur witnessed this change after he started playing PUBG and streaming it on his platform.

PUBG is the game of the season and has caught on like wildfire. And a ban on it (due to the violent nature of the game) in several parts of the country has not deterred players and fans. The game's rising popularity has seen another interesting phenomenon. Those playing the game can stream it live on YouTube, Twitch, Mixer and Facebook Watch. Globally, live game streaming started nearly a decade ago, but in India, it took off with PUBG.

"In the beginning, there was no PUBG and no gaming scene in India. But things started to pick up from September 2018," says Ajey Nagar, a gaming enthusiast who has created the popular YouTube channel CarryMinati. Nagar was streaming games on different channels for some time, but the popularity of his gaming channel Carryislive rose only after he started playing PUBG. As of now, the channel has 1.8 million subscribers.

According to a recent report by Hootsuite and We Are Social, 31 per cent of Internet users in India say that they play games which are streamed live while 30 per cent say they watch these live streams.

Despite the presence of several platforms, YouTube tops the popularity chart for live-streaming video games. Online video analytics start-up Vidooly has started tracking the e-sports and online gaming space in India as this segment has gained huge traction. The company says it is now tracking 400-plus gaming channels on YouTube in India.

If streaming video games is emerging as a distinct trend, the incentive behind it is monetisation. People who stream these games online can monetise their channels just like any other channel on YouTube - by signing up for Google AdSense, integrating brands in videos and creating sponsored content for brands. However, they have an added advantage as their fans can also send them money by way of Superchat, a YouTube feature through which fans can interact with channel owners and donate money during live streaming.

Nagar says the maximum revenue for his channel comes from brand integration, followed by Superchat, sponsorships and Google AdSense (in that order). He has tied up with brands such as HP and headphone brand Mivi while Mathur holds an interim gaming partnership with OnePlus and has been sponsored by streaming platform Omelet Arcade.

PUBG has finally kick-started the gaming scene in India and experts project more growth going ahead.


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