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Rise of the smalltown gamers

  • When the lockdown began, Paytm First Games saw a sharp increase in new users
  • Most games on these platforms are familiar to users across age groups, which eases the initiation process

Mohit Kumar, a small merchant from Agra, spends a few hours every day playing online games with real money on his smartphone. Hit by the pandemic, he wants to try and make some money on the side.

“During the lockdown, I was looking for ways to keep myself busy and earn some additional income. One of my friends, who is an active gamer, introduced me to the Paytm First Games app. I have been playing games on this app since the first week of April, and managed to make a few thousand rupees every month," said Kumar.

Like Kumar, more and more users from tier-II and -III cities are turning to online gaming platforms like MPL, WinZO and Paytm First Games to make some money.

To be sure, Kumar is a non-professional gamer who has been doing well, and not everyone is as successful.

When the lockdown began, Paytm First Games saw a sharp increase in new users. They were adding over 100,000 users every day and a major part of this came from smaller cities. “In June, we noticed a 15% dip on average in overall users. But from July we grew 20% over May. Even after the lifting of the lockdown, gaming as a category continues to grow," said Sudhanshu Gupta, chief operating officer, Paytm First Games.

WinZO, another leading online multiplayer gaming platform, has seen the number of new users joining the platform triple from Hindi speaking states—Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh—and particularly from cities such as Bareilly and Jaipur.

“Our audience is coming from really deep parts of India, playing on low-end devices. Around 20% of them are making their first digital media and entertainment payment on WinZO," said Saumya Singh Rathore, co-founder, WinZO Games.

Most games on these platforms are familiar to users across age groups, which eases the initiation process. For WinZO, multiplayer games such as Carrom, Ludo and Royal Battle have been getting a lot of traction in smaller cities. Traffic for casual and board games such as Bubble Shooter, Ludo and Subway Surfer has also picked-up.

The fact that many of these platforms let users transfer their winnings directly into a payment wallet makes it easier for users to spend and make money. These platforms have got both free and real money games. Games in the first category are mostly casual, while the second category includes skilled games where users have to pay a small amount to participate.

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