The 19th Asian Games in September will be monumental for the South Asian esports and video games industry. Market leaders feel that it will set a precedent for both governments and their sports ministries to consider esports as important as any other traditional sporting event.
In a recent interaction with Abhishek Mallick of Sportskeeda Esports, the CEO of Galaxy Racer, Paul Roy, opened up about how he feels the South Asian esports and video games industry will change in light of the upcoming Asiad.
He talked about the importance of India’s AVGC task force, the success that Galaxy Racer’s five key vertices have had over the years, the HER Initiative, the organization’s plans for South Asia, and more.
Here is an excerpt of the interview.
Paul Roy, CEO of Galaxy Racer, on 2022 Asian Games and future of his organization in South Asia
Q. Sir, Galaxy Racer is often attributed to being one of the world’s largest esports, gaming, and lifestyle organizations. Can you tell us a bit about its conception back in 2019, the thoughts and vision behind its creation, and some of the biggest challenges that the organization had to face along the way?
Paul Roy: Galaxy Racer was born from my passion and love for gaming. It started from humble beginnings, following my involvement in various industries ranging from theme parks to animation/VFX to video games for over twenty years.
During my time in the theme park sector, I led the creation and execution of all the major theme parks in Dubai, including IMG Worlds of Adventure, Motiongate, and Bollywood Park at Dubai Parks and Resorts and Hub Zero.
Soon after, I pioneered the video game industry in the Middle East and built the first game development studio in the region 20 years ago, which produced the first-ever PC game for the Arabic-speaking world. Firefly Games, our sister company, has seen enormous success in developing mobile games based on famous Hollywood IPs such as Terminator: Dark Fate and Dreamworks Animation.
It also developed a mobile game for the award-winning toy range L.O.L Surprise by MGA Entertainment. Another sister company, Rogue Games, develops the majority of the top games for Netflix.
In 2019, esports and gaming were booming globally on a massive scale, and I felt it was the perfect time to enter this industry all-in. I was approached earlier to start this venture years ago, but the industry was nascent, and the internet speed and infrastructure were not as fast as they are today. This is why I viewed 2019 as the perfect time to enter this industry.
When Galaxy Racer was born, we were asked a lot about how we got our name. It’s a portmanteau of Galaxy Express 999 and Speed Racer — two anime/manga properties about an exciting future, which aptly describes Galaxy Racer as a forward-looking company.
We are the most prominent esports, gaming, and lifestyle organization globally, and we want to build an iconic brand for future generations and impact lives positively on a global scale.
What we have achieved in the past 2-3 years would usually have taken others almost a decade to reach. This is due to our solid management team that is robust and agile as we develop at hypergrowth speeds.
For us, just like any start-up, scaling fast is a challenge to which we’ve learned to adapt quickly as we scale across multiple regions such as India, South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America.
Q. Galaxy Racer currently operates on five key verticals: Nigma Galaxy, GXR Creators, GXR Studios, GXR Limited, and GXR Records. Talk to us a bit about the thoughts behind each of the verticals and the success they were able to garner in recent months.
Paul Roy: Nigma Galaxy is the competitive esports division of Galaxy Racer. They handle everything related to the esports teams end-to-end. Their years of experience and expertise in their respective fields harness the right formula to build a team of champions, proven by their historic win at the most prominent global esports tournament, The Dota 2 International 2017.
As for “GXR Creators,” we believe that content creators are a staple part of our organization, and we’re always on the lookout for promising talents with the hunger, drive and desire to be the best at their craft.
We have some of the biggest content creators in the MENA region and are looking to expand aggressively in India and South Asia. As we speak, we have amassed over 100 content creators in MENA, South Asia, and Southeast Asia with over 500 million total followers and over 2.5 billion monthly views.
Recently, we witnessed the power of fandom and the community uniting to support creator AboFlah, who smashed two Guinness World Records while raising over $11 million for charity.
The two world records include hosting the ‘longest livestream (video) — 268 hours, 14 minutes and 20 seconds’ and ‘Most viewers for a charity donation live stream on YouTube - 698,000 viewers.’ We are genuinely thankful to the esports and gaming community and media members who assisted in promoting this positive impact initiative with support from our partners.
For “GXR Studios & Events,” we feel that tournament management is an exciting verticle for us. We successfully launched bespoke esports marketing campaigns for brands and global personalities, such as the Galaxy Racer Aubameyang Cup together with Barcelona superstar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
It was the first-ever cross-regional Fortnite esports tournament between European and MENA players with a prize pool of €10,000.
We organized Fortnite’s largest independent tournament in Australia with a prize pool of $10,000.
In Pakistan, we started back in 2021 by partnering with Cinepax, Pakistan’s first dedicated National Cineplex Company, and launched the first-ever Pakistan vs. India Fortnite tournament with a US$10,000 prize pool.
Recently in January 2022, we organized the largest esports tournament in Pakistan, called GAMERS GALAXY, with a massive prize pool of $100,000 across various esports titles such as PUBG Mobile Gamers Galaxy, Valorant, HER Galaxy Valorant Spike Rush 2v2 (Pakistan’s first-ever women’s esports tournament), and community tournaments such as FIFA 22 and Tekken.
A few weeks ago, we hosted the largest esports tournament in MENA (the Middle East North Africa) in Dubai, the GAMERS GALAXY: Dota 2 Invitational Series Dubai 2022, which saw the top Dota 2 teams in the world participating, such as Nigma Galaxy, TI10 champions Team Spirit, TI8 and TI9 champions OG Esports, Fnatic, Team Secret, TSM FTX, BOOM Esports, Tundra Esports, and Nigma Galaxy SEA.
This event was a milestone for us as it garnered over 2 million concurrent views globally, over 38 million total hours watched across all platforms, 28 billion total media coverage viewership with over 400 media articles.
We’ve just launched our entry into North America with the HER Galaxy initiative, a grassroots esports initiative aiming to create an inclusive ecosystem for female-identifying gamers. HER Galaxy will look to offer a platform for teams to grow, provide resources to build an audience, and supply financial backing to aid sustainability across the region.
We have also launched GXR Records, our new music record label, to identify and develop recording artists and songwriters, produce, distribute and promote these talents to the global stage. We’ve recently announced our music artist from the MENA region, acclaimed singer-songwriter Noel Kharman.
Additionally, GXR Limited, our new merchandise line, will be launched in the coming weeks along with limited-edition drops with our content creators.
Q. In a previous interview with us, Christopher Timm, Co-founder of Team Nigma, talked about Galaxy Racer’s content creation expertise and how they will depend on the organization to provide fans with exciting behind-the-scenes material. Can you shed some light on this merger and some of the expectations behind it from your end?
Paul Roy: Both entities stand to gain from this merger, as we complement each other in many areas. Galaxy Racer understands the entertainment business, has built a fantastic content creator structure with the region’s biggest influencers, and is looking to Nigma to support and develop the esports team business model.
Nigma has decades of experience in esports; combined with Galaxy Racer’s vast resources across all industry sectors, Nigma Galaxy will be able to compete globally with some of the biggest names in esports and gaming at the most prestigious events.
Nigma’s leadership team carries vast experience as professional players, and we will leverage their expertise to help nurture the development of all other rosters under the Nigma Galaxy brand.
Nigma’s ambition is to help build infrastructure in the MENA region and globally and provide our upcoming talent with the resources needed for them to pursue a career in the esports industry. The merger will provide Nigma with the resources to support this ambition.
Galaxy Racer will support the division in everything it needs, including marketing support. Nigma will be weighing in and consulting with Galaxy Racer as a whole on its esports team division to ensure the organization is unified and our vision is aligned.
Both organizations share similar traits of having the desire to succeed in and out of the game in business. Part of that is sharing our resources for the greater good. Nigma Galaxy plans to expand its esports portfolio heavily within the Middle East and bring more talent from the region to the international stage.
Nigma Galaxy will also use existing resources from Galaxy Racer to expand further within Southeast Asia, Europe, Asia, and South America. Nigma Galaxy will launch community tournaments to engage with gamers and eventually scout talent to be part of the ‘Nigma Galaxy Academy.’
Q. Galaxy Racer will be looking to strengthen its focus in the Indian and South Asian video games market. The organization will be bringing some top regional content creators like Soneeta, Gaming Tamizhan, Gaming Girl, and Itz Kabbo under their banner. What do you think about the current state of the content creation scene in the region and the growth that it has had in the last couple of years?
Paul Roy: Content creators in the gaming space have grown tremendously in the past five years with the wide adoption of mobile gaming and the proliferation of mobile esports. Gaming content has terrific potential as it is widely being accepted by the masses on platforms such as YouTube and will potentially become a mainstream category on popular streaming services in the near future.
We’ll also be looking at lifestyle content creators. Soneeta, Gaming Tamizhan, Gaming Girl, and Itz Kabbo are examples of excellent content creators who are the best at their craft. We are confident to bring them to the next level under the Galaxy Racer banner.
Q. According to you, what are some of the biggest challenges regional streamers and content creators face in South Asia? What role will Galaxy Racer look to play in mitigating some of these problems for the creators brought under their banner?
Paul Roy: Some of the biggest challenges we’ve seen gaming content creators in South Asia face include interfacing with brands, developing content roadmaps, and infrastructure obstacles. Galaxy Racer will assist both experienced and young content creators navigate the corporate nature of working with brands and maintaining relationships with brands and platform partners.
Concerning content development, Galaxy Racer regularly explores new ideas with our content creators to help them innovate or incubate their next big project. We’ve noticed infrastructure can sometimes come in the way of content creation, and we offer solutions on a case-by-case basis that would help solve their immediate challenges.
Q. With esports officially being added as a medal event in the 2022 Asian Games, what sort of boost do you feel will give the region’s video games scene? Will it finally be given the same amount of importance as given to traditional sports?
Paul Roy: Esports was featured in the Asian Games in 2018 as a demonstration event, with Tirth Mehta winning India’s first esports bronze medal. That created a lot of positive news and awareness for esports in India and created further recognition and legitimacy for the industry.
With the upcoming 2022 Asian Games in September in Hangzhou, China, esports is set to make its debut as a medal event, with gold, silver, and bronze medals across eight titles in PUBG Mobile, DOTA 2, Hearthstone, League of Legends, FIFA, Street Fighter V, Arena of Valor and Dream of the Three Kingdoms 2.
Since esports will contribute to the official medal tally, like other traditional sports, it will set a precedent for governments and their sports ministres to take esports seriously. This includes budget allocations and esports development programs for youth, as it is the sport of the future generation and can contribute to the overall country’s image being looked up as a progressive and developed sporting nation.
Q. Can you tell us about the importance of content diversity and why a YouTuber should expand their field of titles and not stick to one particular type of content?
Paul Roy: When we onboard our content creators, we always encourage them to expand their field of titles and content offerings. For example, a gaming content creator producing lifestyle content or even possibly venturing into music or other verticals of content creation.
It is important to diversify as there is a high probability of a particular game genre reaching its plateau and ultimately the end of its lifecycle. It would be challenging to bounce back from that predicament. Hence, the adage ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket applies.’
Diversity is critical in content creation, and Galaxy Racer is leading the charge with our variety of content creators creating meaningful and engaging content for their viewers.
Q. With the Indian ministry promising an AVGC task force, what do you feel will impact this venture on the market when it comes to fruition?
Paul Roy: India’s Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics (AVGC) task force is a positive step towards building the current gaming and esports ecosystem. If all development and planning occur as it should, then this budget and initiative will further elevate the industry’s growth in the region.
This also means a boost in employment in the gaming and esports industry and will further pave the way and create new job opportunities and upskilling of talent. The sector will be taken more seriously by non-endemic brands, and the general public will better understand the industry.
Q. What’s next for Galaxy Racer in India and South Asia? How will they look to expand on their verticals further in the near future?
Paul Roy: We will focus on expanding our content creator lineup and continue to bring premium and new IPs to life! We have lots of exciting exclusive collaborations lined up not just in the gaming and esports space but also under our lifestyle vertical. We’ll be making more major exciting announcements for the India and South Asia market soon!