The Indian nation has countless amateur gamers who dream of becoming professionals someday. To help them out in their journey, Gamerji, an esports tournament platform, hosts numerous competitions from time to time to give aspiring young esports athletes a chance to showcase their skills.
Gamerji recently expanded to the Middle Eastern region and has received a positive response from the gaming community of the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In conversation with Sportskeeda Esports’ Debolina Banerjee, Soham Thacker, the founder and CEO of Gamerji, spoke about the company's vision, the Indian esports industry, and more.
Soham Thacker on how Gamerji gives an opportunity to amateur players to shine
Q. Being the founder of an esports tournament platform, what is your take on the competitive gaming scenario in India?
Soham: Although India is still in its early stages of esports, the pandemic acted as a powerful catalyst and has changed the landscape of the gaming industry. We are now poised to become one of the world’s leading markets in the gaming sector. According to a KPMG report, the Indian market is expected to grow three-fold in value from the present $1.71 billion to $3.9 billion by 2025. This growth has been driven by the popularity of online gaming, especially mobile gaming, in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, an increase in professional gaming events & esports, and accessibility to faster connectivity and devices.
Professional players do have the support of esports organizations, but there is still no structured scouting mechanism for amateur players. Gamerji is a platform that caters to amateur and aspiring gamers by giving them a chance to compete, make a mark, and come into the spotlight by pursuing gaming as a career.
Q. Do you feel that Indian society is willing to accept gaming as a profession? Is it safe for youngsters to choose it as a career?
Soham: In recent years, as the gaming sector has grown, it is fast gaining acceptance, even within society. Currently, acceptance is largely coming from tier 1 cities, but with the rate at which amateur gamers are emerging from smaller hubs and consistently performing well, we will see the same trend emerging even from tier 2 and tier 3 cities. The pandemic has brought about a transformation of sorts, gaming from being looked down upon as a hobby is beginning to be taken seriously. A career in gaming is not just restricted to playing, but also has other avenues such as game development, programming, motion-capture graphics, designing, content creation, and management, making it a viable and lucrative career option.
Q. The Indian government has recently banned games that have a good competitive scene in the country without any premonition. Do you feel that the government has taken a step in the right direction? Do bans like this hinder the growth for esports in the country?
Soham: The government has its own reasons for banning certain games, but the lack of a governing body that represents and understands the industry is seriously lacking. Such bans not only hinder the industry, but also largely affect the mindset of gamers who want to pursue gaming as a career.
Q. What is the mission and vision behind the creation of Gamerji?
Soham: Gamerji was built with a vision to allow gamers to compete, host matches, and build an active gaming community. We envision it to be the first step for every gamer to build their profile, interact with the community, find content, and build their esports statistics. This gives aspiring gamers a chance to be scouted and also get more from the hours they spent playing.
Q. Aside from building Gamerji, you have also built a fantasy sports platform called Fantasiji and also a global sports innovation hub named F20 Cohort Company. How has your past experience helped you in building your current company?
Soham: Fantasyji was built as an auction game for cricket lovers. Gamerji was inspired by seeing the seriousness of Indian gamers competing, and during that journey, the company also participated in the F20 Cohort of Stadia Accelerator. These experiences proved vital in understanding the pulse of the market and strategically building a platform that caters to the masses.
Q. Is Gamerji completely targeted towards esports professionals or does the company cover streamers as well?
Soham: Gamerji is solely focused on gamers and not on content. However, we have integrated YouTube APIs to allow gamers to also share their YouTube content on our platform for extra spotlight.
Q. Gamerji recently expanded to the Middle East and received a positive response from gamers located there. Can you tell us more about it?
Soham: Gamerji launched in the UAE and Saudi Arabia in July 2022. We have seen great traction from early adopters and are also conducting cross border matches for games that do not have ping issues. The quantum of tournaments hosted by us has been appreciated by the Middle Eastern audience and, not being a Real Money Gaming (RMG) platform, it has also helped in reaching the right target audience in the region. In a short period of time, we have added over 100,000 active gamers from the region to the platform.
Q. Since LAN tournaments are back on track, is Gamerji planning to host any offline esports tournament any time soon?
Soham: The strength of Gamerji has always been the hosting of online tournaments. We do not plan to host any offline tournaments in the near future, but we are happy to collaborate with any LAN tournament organizers.
Q. What is your message to amateur gamers who dream of becoming an esports professional someday?
Soham: I would definitely encourage skilled gamers to pursue their ambition. Esports has been growing all around the world and will soon be treated like any other conventional sport.
This year, the Commonwealth Esports Championships were held alongside the Commonwealth Games as a demonstration event. I would also like to add that one should not just pursue becoming a gamer, but should also explore parallel career opportunities in the gaming industry.
Q. In what other ways will Gamerji try to expedite the growth of esports in the country? What’s next on the cards?
Soham: Gamerji is trying to solve the gap between amateur/aspiring gamers who are trying to become professionals. Hence, we strive to build the right strategic partnerships with esports organizations and help them scout the right talent while giving gamers a chance to build their esports statistics and profile. Along with generic tournaments, we are also bullish about collegiate gaming and are aggressively growing as the most coveted platform for inter-collegiate tournaments. We have hosted seven inter-collegiate esports tournaments so far and plan to host one large tournament every quarter.