CHENNAI: A few weeks ago, the Internet algorithm introduced me to the universe of thriving ‘videogaming livestreams’ in Tamil. An intense game of Free Fire had me captivated in its final moments. “Dei, there’s a team inside the building” – “We got this, take cover” – “But you forgot to revive me!!” However, it wasn’t just the streamers making the noise; the voices of a thousand onlookers continuously relayed cheers and tips via the live chat.
Backseat gaming is unequivocally entertaining. Admittedly, you’re just watching a video of someone else playing a video game, but you feel like you’re contributing in some way to the gamer’s victory! While still an emerging source of entertainment, streaming has already found some favourites. PVS Gaming, a popular Tamil Free Fire streamer says that he started streaming in 2018 out of passion, and his consistency and humour now has got him a huge following across platforms in which he currently streams.
Arun from Run Gaming explains that he has started focusing on the quality of his streams as well, as game watchers now demand perfection and skill in the game. Both of them have over a million subscribers on just YouTube. “Streaming across platforms? You mean there’s more than just one?,” you may ask. Gaming in India hasn’t quite been the same since PUBG Mobile parachuted down in 2018.
Its subsequent ban did not dampen the spirits of the newly emerged gamers in the country, for whom the game was but a gateway to competitive gaming and livestreaming. There are established streaming greats internationally like Twitch, YouTube gaming and Facebook gaming. Well-known as they are, the Indian audience demands more of an interactive experience for viewers.
Rooting for platforms
It’s here that platforms like Rooter and Loco come in, and their growth is an example of how rapidly livestream has turned into prime-time entertainment for a new audience. Says Piyush Kumar, the founder and CEO of Rooter, “Gaming is for everyone, and we realised its demand when we pivoted towards our livestreaming product, nearly two years back.” The popularity of game livestreaming seems to have expanded right under our noses Rooter currently sees an average of over 80,000 livestreams in a single day, and tournaments held almost weekly.
While streamers have monetary incentives to create content, so do the audience — to keep watching. As Kumar explains, “In addition to the joy of watching the stream and learning new techniques, we have also gamified the experience of viewing”; the viewers get virtual benefits based on their content consumption. The millions of mobile app downloads of this relatively new streaming platform is indicative of the preference of the Indian gamer skewed towards a mobile gaming subculture. However, as the tendrils of gaming expand, the PC is increasingly becoming an avenue for gaming well.
Regional streamers can now be seen with facecam videos, bulky headsets, a gaming chair, and RGB lights reflecting on their skin. And this is great news for more than just the gaming market. Loco is yet another homegrown game-streaming platform that encourages regional streamers, and they recently raised $9 million in seed funding from gaming investors. Firasat Durrani, VP of operations at Loco explains that “Platform unbundling of game streaming provides opportunities for horizontal growth.”
This means allowing it to grow separate from established video platforms helps it concurrently support associated infrastructure, and enables it to move in a trajectory similar to mainstream sports in the past decade. The developer, the publisher, gaming components and accessories — all receive a collective boost as livestreams are allowed to breathe. He also explains that Loco provides the opportunity for newer games to be introduced to an Indian audience by involving publishers across diverse titles.
With local e-sports organisations coming together with the help of Indian streaming platforms, the future only looks brighter for gamers who are looking to stream in the coming years. PUBG Mobile is back under its new avatar of Battlegrounds Mobile India, and many other such quick-play mobile titles are entering the gaming world.
As Azraudheen from the popular channel ‘Vaadhiyaar’ says, it’s time for “Dedicated play, and tapping the opportunity in an untapped market.” Livestreaming is an avenue for gamers and game lovers to express themselves, and the market for good gamers is wide open in south India. So, what are you waiting for? Gaming is for everyone, find your game and start streaming!