KOCHI: Ever since the lockdown came into effect, the online gaming sector has seen a surge in user engagement and viewership of video game streaming sessions. While games are mainly streamed on online platforms like Twitch, Facebook and YouTube, gaming enthusiasts in the state mostly prefer YouTube due to its reach among all social groups. Viewers of these platforms can be broadly classified into two groups -- those that wish to improve their gameplay by watching expert players and those who want to enjoy ‘Mod gameplay’ (where the gamer modifies various aspects of an existing game).
According to Kannan Manoj, who runs a gaming channel in YouTube called ‘Malayalam Techies’, his subscriber count has increased by more than a lakh since lockdown. The channel streams modified content of games such as GTA-V and PUBG. “Pre-lockdown, the channel had an average view count of 20,000 per week. Now, it has gone up to almost 50,000. Viewer demographics have changed too. Earlier, it used to be mostly students. Now, there are viewers between the age group of 26 and 28 years. Malayalis across the world too have started tuning in,” says Kannan.
According to Media and Entertainment Sector Perspective, a report brought out by KPMG that studies the impact of Covid on media and other sectors, online gaming is set to see growth in consumption and monetisation as self-isolation allows for habit forming behaviours. The study says that there has been an increase in time spent on online games since mid-March. It predicts that paid models could see growth as online gaming gets more entrenched into overall time spent in media and entertainment sector. Meanwhile, indulgent expenses around purchase of technology hardware could be postponed for a while. The online gaming industry made a revenue of `62 billion in the last fiscal.
“Multiplayer games are preferred by gamers confined to their homes. Hence, games like Counterstrike, DOTA-2, Call of Duty-War Zone, Valorant, PUBG and Fortnite have been witnessing increased user interaction,” said Jathin, a professional gamer and verified streamer on Twitch. “Counterstrike has seen almost double the user interaction since lockdown,” he added. According to Jathin, the professional gaming culture in Kerala is still in its nascent stage and gaming tournaments in the state are mainly confined to tech festivals.