“2022 Asian Games will help esports be taken as seriously as traditional sporting events in India”: Aakash Taneja, Head of Product at GMNG

Aakash Taneja, Head of Product at GMNG, on the addition of esports as a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games
Aakash Taneja, Head of Product at GMNG, on the addition of esports as a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games

The addition of esports as a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games has been a monumental step forward for the video games industry.

Many market leaders believe that the inclusion of esports will change how people tend to perceive video games, and some might even come to take it as seriously as traditional sports.

On Nov. 24th, the 290-day countdown to the 19th Asian Games, Xiao Hu (小虎) , League of Legends player from @RNG , sends his best wishes for the Games. @LeagueOfLegends is one of the 8 esports medal events for the 19th #AsianGames. @lolesports @PentaQ_Esports #Hangzhou

In a conversation with Abhishek Mallick of Sportskeeda Esports, Aakash Tanjea, head of product at GMNG, opened up about some of his thoughts on where the video games industry in India stands today and the market growth that he expects in the next five years.

He talks about GMNG and the future that he envisions for it as more titles make their way to the platform.

Q. Sir, I would love to hear about your journey in the Indian video games and esports industry. Can you tell us a bit about some of your experiences in the field so far?

Aakash Taneja: Building products has always excited me professionally, plus I have an undying love for games. It’s probably this combination that led me to the gaming industry.

Q. What do you feel about the growth that the nation’s video games market has had over the years? What would you say have been some of the biggest benefactors behind it?

Aakash Taneja: The growth has genuinely crossed my expectations. Cheaper mobile phones and data have led to accessibility among the masses. Hence, our nation’s youth was introduced to the concept of competitive gaming. Also, different ways of monetization of content/passion were the best catalysts for this growth trajectory.

Q. Tell us a bit about your platform, GMNG. What was the vision and expectations that went behind its formation?

Aakash Taneja: GMNG is looking to add value to both the esports and real-money gaming markets.

On the esports side, we believe that we can help streamline the way esports tournaments are organized by productizing audiences for different esports organizations. We are partnering with some of the leading orgs and have received great feedback on the platform.

On the real money gaming side, we offer the shortest format of real money games in India. The traction seems very promising, as we are noticing a 3.5x MoM increase in users over the last three months with 1,00,000+ installs.

Q. A career in video games is often looked down upon in India. There is a significant disparity between how people see esports instead of how they see traditional sports. Do you feel this gap will shorten, and video games will be seen as a more mainstream sporting event, especially when esports is finally considered a medal event in the Asian Games 2022?

Aakash Taneja: It’s a matter of time before viewership levels match traditional sports, and we’ll see better revenues. As they say: ‘Money follows eyeballs’.

Also, I would like to add that a career in video games is not only about playing games. There are many more great opportunities in this domain, such as developing games, game design, game animation, GFX/VFX artists, casting, & organizing tournaments.

Yes, the 2022 Asian Games will help esports to be taken more seriously.

Q. On which title does GMNG see the highest amount of community participation? What would you say is the reason behind that?

Aakash Taneja: Among esports titles, BGMI and Free Fire, probably because multiplayer battle royale games led to the start of the esports wave, and it is still the most prevalent genre in esports.

On the real money gaming side, Mini-Ludo is our best seller. The reason is its super-quick gameplay; a game of Mini-Ludo is less than three minutes long, which usually takes up to 15 mins on a normal game.

Q. Where do you see the Indian video games and esports industry in the next five years? Do you feel the gap between PC and mobile esports will lessen when it comes to popularity?

Aakash Taneja: The future seems bright, and the projections are as much as 4x by 2025, which is a great sign.

Yes, I believe the gap between PC and mobile games will shorten as users have now got a taste of competitive gaming through mobile and PC gaming, which can open new opportunities through some top international titles. Plus, PC gaming can offer customizations, immersive experiences, and high-level graphics that are not possible on mobiles and will help win user loyalty.

Q. One of the major issues that video gamers face today is that they are often not able to monetize their craft effectively. What advice would you give budding gamers who want to make a career in either esports or video game content creation?

Aakash Taneja: As mentioned earlier, there are many roles from which you can select. My recommendation would be to try a bit of everything from the list of opportunities, double down on the role you enjoy the most, as that will eventually be the one you’re the best at.

Q. What would you say are some of the biggest problems that the Indian esports market faces today? What, according to you, are some of the viable solutions to counter it?

Aakash Taneja: Formal recognition in the esports domain and government regulation for real money games would be the top challenges we currently face. A central law that considers marketing, product, and business would help make the market sustainable for the long term.

Q. What’s next for GMNG? What can users of the platform expect in the coming months?

Aakash Taneja: We are coming out with some unique tournament formats for real money games and staying true to our USP. We’ll be offering the shortest format events in December in the real money gaming space.

For esports, we will be launching the ‘Clan Module’ for all tournament organizers with some very lucrative prize pools.

Edited by Ravi Iyer
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