The narrative of Pakistan esports is one of promise, and though the market is still quite new, many believe it has the potential to be a powerhouse of talent with the right support and investment.
Majid Hameed, Founder at Esports Marketing Pakistan, has been an industry leader for quite some time now. He has been very vocal about the innate potential of the Pakistan esports scene. He also talks about the type of boost it needs right now that will help grassroots talent to be more involved in growing the market.
In an interaction with Abhishek Mallick of Sportskeeda Esports, Majid opens up about his journey in the industry so far, the vision behind Esports Marketing Pakistan, and the expectations he has from the nation’s video games industry in the next five years.
Here is an excerpt of the conversation.
Q. Majid, I would love to hear about your journey in the esports industry and how your time in the field has been until now. As the Founder of Esports Marketing Pakistan, talk to us about some of your experiences and what inspired you to be who you are today.
Majid: Well, Esports Marketing Pakistan was established in 2019, seeking to be the nation’s first esports advertising and marketing agency. Before this, however, we were providing consultancy services to teams and organizations.
I am proud to state that we have some of the best esports organizations, teams, players, athletes, and streamers on our platform. The teams and players that we've had the privilege of representing have participated and won in multiple local and international tournaments across a variety of competitive titles.
We try to provide a one-window solution for everything from marketing, advertising and research, to hosting tournaments, leagues and creating competitive rosters under salaried contracts. We even went as far as trying to set up gaming “bootcamp” houses where players can live, train, eat and sleep under one roof so as to boost the feeling of camaraderie and create an atmosphere where every player helps the other to grow.
We are driven to take professional gaming to new heights and help put Pakistan esports on the map when it comes to international events.
Another thing that we take pride in is our partnerships. We were recently able to tie up with Pakistan’s top Music Channel 8xm and leading national news channel Abbtakk News, both having full-fledged in-house studios in the nation that we can leverage to produce unique content.
It’s no mystery that South Asian countries like South Korea, Japan, and India have a more mature esports market, and given its current trends, we take a lot of inspiration from these nations. This will help us grow with the domestic scene, as esports in Pakistan is ever-growing and has unlimited potential.
Q. What, according to you, are some of the pros and cons of Pakistan’s esports scene as it stands today? On what aspects do you feel industry leads in the nation need to work on to help develop its domestic market?
Majid: I feel that we will soon see a lot of enthusiastic amateurs rise up from various walks of life and make their mark on Pakistan’s esports scene.
Esports is a growing area in Pakistan that will offer several viable career options, though it may not yet be common knowledge to everyone.
There is still a misconception held by some that playing video games is a waste of time and not constructive or valuable to a person’s development or career. But esports actually presents job seekers with genuine opportunities, and this is the form of awareness that I want to spread.
The Pakistan esports industry has not been explored on an official level as it should have been, but soon we will be having support and involvement from the government, which is sure to help the ecosystem a lot.
As investments are mostly made by local individual owners for organizations and teams, few international events surface, making the market a very domestic affair.
This is precisely why we at Esports Marketing Pakistan took the initiative to present innovative and interesting investment/branding opportunities. While getting direct exposure to the esports scene is fairly limited, investors/brands can target countries or companies that generate significant revenue from video games and esports.
Not many of the dedicated advertising agencies and brands have been paying attention to the available opportunities in esports for a long time, but luckily the current situation is showing promise as Pakistan is coming into the limelight after some amazing international showings. Mainstream games are finally investing in competitions, marketing, and advertising campaigns which has now attracted the current audience, as well as brands and investors.
Q. As a market leader yourself, what are your specific plans in helping the scene and creating a system that caters to the needs of those who only have access to low-end resources?
Majid: The biggest challenge has always been government support. We are trying to get in touch with government bodies to regularize esports and make it a more mainstream sporting event in Pakistan.
The second big challenge is to get regular budgets from the advertisers. We are working with brands and media houses to get some marketing or advertising budgets for esports as well since they already spend budgets on TV, radio, digital, and print media. While esports is also a huge market, it has sadly not yet been explored by brands or advertising agencies as much as it could be.
Esports Marketing Pakistan is working as a bridge between esports organizations, teams, athletes, players, and streamers to get regular marketing or advertising budget for them from the advertisers.
Q. With the Pakistan government finally recognizing esports as a mainstream sport, what would you say has been one of the biggest avenues of growth in the industry so far? Has there been a significant rise in the amount of investment and investors since then?
Majid: Yes, the government has taken steps to support esports in Pakistan, but unfortunately they are yet to enter the thick of the scene. Esports must be recognized as regular sports and the government should consider it as part of a mainstream sporting event.
There must be some zones/arenas or playing areas that may be provided for the players to practice as we have for other sports like cricket, football and hockey, and so on.
Brands and media houses should take this industry seriously and there must be some budget allocations for esports as part of their marketing budgets.
Q. When it comes to generating revenue, which esports title has been the most lucrative so far in Pakistan? What about it makes it a mass favorite?
Majid: When we talk about generating revenue, Tekken has been the crowd favorite so far, and it's all thanks to our champ, “The Nation’s Pride” Arslan Ash. His incredible showing on the international stage has helped put Pakistan on the map when it comes to fighting games.
Free Fire and PUBG Mobile have also been quite lucrative and are favorites of the masses in Pakistan. These titles helped the industry generate a lot of revenue.
Q. When it comes to international success, Pakistan has witnessed the rise of some incredible talents among its ranks. With Arslan Ash putting the country on the map in competitive Tekken, the Valorant rosters also did not pull any punches when going toe to toe with some of the best that South Asia had to offer during the Valorant Conquerors Championship. So what’s the next step from here? How are industry leads looking to capitalize on the amount of success and recognition that the nation has been receiving?
Majid: Yes, Pakistan did get a lot of recognition recently in international competitive games like Tekken and Valorant.
Valorant, Free Fire, and PUBG Mobile will have a vivid future because they are putting so much effort into South Asia, especially in Pakistan.
We are quite sure that Pakistani talent is very promising and will get further representation internationally for many competitive titles.
Q. What are some of the key features of Pakistan esports that one will not get to see with its neighbors? What would you say are some of the ideological differences that the video games industry here has with other South Asian countries, namely India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka?
Majid: I don’t necessarily feel that there is a difference in outlook here. All South Asian esports industries work with the same outlook and with the same mindset.
Pakistan’s esports ecosystem is still at a nascent stage, however, and there could be much more to come in the future as game developers and companies slowly start to come in. Organizations like Garena, Tencent, Riot, and a lot of other international investors are looking to invest in esports in Pakistan.
A key feature that differentiates us from other South Asian countries in the field of esports is that we have a larger ratio of young people and Gen-Z players.
Q. Directing your attention away from esports a bit, I would love to ask your opinion on Pakistan’s content creation market. What are some of your personal opinions of it? Would you say that there is quite a big gap between brand investors and talent?
Majid: No, it’s not like that. As almost every local brand is promoted through our talent, it reflects in the huge investments that follow. We believe we are talented enough to beat many global leaders in content creation.
Q. Are esports and talent management firms becoming a necessity for those who are still struggling in the field?
Majid: Not necessarily, but talent management firms are essential to the industry when it comes to promoting and educating our upcoming creators to be industry leaders. We also run talent management programs under Esports Marketing Pakistan and educate people on how to pursue esports as a career.
Q. Where do you see Pakistan’s video games and esports market in the next five years? It’s no news that it’s developing and has tremendous potential, but do you feel that brands and industry leads will be able to utilize the talent pool to their fullest?
Majid: We will see a boom in Pakistan’s esports industry in the next five years. This industry just needs some recognition from brands and some government intervention. After that, there is nothing that can stop this market from growing.
Pakistan has growth potential, and in the future, it will surely be one of the market leaders in the region. Pakistan has the ideal ratio of the young population who engage themselves in such activities. Approximately 64% of our population is below the age of 30 years, and the country is considered to be the 5th largest in the young population.
I believe Pakistan's esports scene will be amongst the biggest traditional sports leagues in terms of future opportunities, and between advertising, ticket sales, licensing, sponsorships, and merchandising, there are a lot of areas of growth for this nascent industry.