While the Indian startup ecosystem is buzzing with over 1,000 startups in 2018 across all possible domains, entrepreneurs sometimes ask me which areas they should be building new businesses in. There are regular domains that have infinite capacity, such as fintech, consumer tech and direct-to-consumer brands. The gaming space, however, is one that I find most interesting. A space rapidly emerging in gaming is e-sports. With an estimated 500 million-plus gaming population in India by 2020, e-sports is a category that needs to do some catching up.

Founders should be looking to build communities, commerce and competitions around this domain. Imagine an online kabaddi league with players from tier-2 and tier-3 cities. With customizable avatars and location-based tournaments, it’s not hard to imagine a high level of engagement. For a few years, I’ve been seeing a lot of hype around virtual reality; online collaborative gaming, however, is taking off to another level.

Angel investor Vaibhav Karnavat.
Angel investor Vaibhav Karnavat.

A recent quote I read was: “Fortnite is not a game, it’s a place." DJ Marshmello played a live concert in Fortnite, and an astonishing 10 million-plus users plugged in. The virtual world inside a game can have unlimited entertainment.

A growing Gen-Z population and blazing 5G speeds on the horizon hold interesting opportunities. Can we create a locally relevant environment in the game? Can we have celebrities’ online avatars participate in such events? Can we have an #ApnaTimeAayega rap battle? It could be a true utopia.

One way to measure India’s gaming potential is to see the number of people in local trains and metros play mobile games on their phones. Even if it’s not heavy-duty gaming, the time spent on these makes for valuable data for firms.

In addition, a surge in digital payments will drive newer revenue models for gaming startups, beyond advertising.

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