Indian esports solutions company NODWIN Gaming recently expanded its business to South Africa, pushing its geographical boundaries.
As well as expanding its business into new countries and regions, the company is very active in partnering with tournament organisers such as ESL and DreamHack. Most recently partnering with Tencent for numerous PUBG Mobile events, it’s clear that there’s a lot on NODWIN Gaming’s plate.
Esports Insider spoke with Akshat Rathee, Managing Director and Founder of NODWIN Gaming, on the company’s South African expansion, the challenges that the company faces, and the current state of esports in India.
Esports Insider: Why did NODWIN Gaming choose to expand into South Africa specifically?
Akshat Rathee: There are quite a few reasons why we chose to go with South Africa specifically. South Africa is an English-speaking market to begin with. Secondly, they are under-served when it comes to the mobile department with one of the most expensive data plans, they are getting ready for mobile growth. Third, South Africa is very under-served with esports per se, there has to be someone taking care of it. Finally, a very strong developing world economy and its understanding of marketing. All of this allows us a very solid potential mix of working from South Africa, and if this works, we will expand to the rest of Africa.
“South Africa is a sport-loving nation, they keep their sports close to their heart.”
ESI: What do you expect the challenges you will face throughout your expansion into South Africa?
AR: Data connectivity as mentioned will be a challenge in the region. South Africa is a sport-loving nation, they keep their sports close to their heart. It is both an opportunity and a threat for us. Going ahead and introducing esports and manning things around in that setting will be a challenge. The break-even will be slower, it’s a build-up market. The challenge is, we can’t right away monetize it, we have to start slow.
ESI: How do those challenges compare to those faced while developing your business in India?
AR: The challenges were pretty much similar, but it’s lifetime gestation. South Africa right now is exactly how India was four and a half years ago. We have been there and we kind of know the dos and don’ts.
ESI: Mobile esports is huge in India, do you envisage similar growth and business opportunities in PC and console esports in future? If not, why?
AR: We can’t see the same pace of growth for consoles which is not the case for PC esports. PC esports may retain its popularity and business. The Indian parent problem of going and buying a gaming only device, hence no consoles. On the other side, we have already seen a very robust triple-digit growth for the PC market in India.
ESI: Will popular games like PUBG Mobile and CS:GO eventually subside and make way for newer games, or do you see them sustaining like LoL in the West?
AR: Well, if you see, CS:GO has sustained longer than LoL. Will newer games come? That we’ll have to wait and see
ESI: How does NODWIN benefit from new titles becoming popular, if at all?
AR: It allows us to work with newer publishers in the market which is also good on the revenue side. Additionally, it allows us to connect with new communities. Gaming communities flow like waves, a certain number of PUBG Mobile players came from the PUBG PC community, and a certain number of PUBG PC players came from the Counter Strike community. So every new game and its community is a connecting piece to older and upcoming games, which in-turn helps grow the ecosystem for us. Larger the ecosystem is, the more relevant and legitimate we are for the sponsors and broadcasters.
“The monetization market in India for gaming has not matured as much as it has in the West.”
ESI: What are the flaws in the Indian esports scene which restrict NODWIN Gaming, and other esports companies, from growing at an even faster pace?
AR: Predominantly, the monetization market in India for gaming has not matured as much as it has in the West. Let’s say I get 1 million people to watch a video in India versus a million people who get to watch it in Europe. The number is wow for a European compared to an Indian perspective, I mean it’s still the same number of people watching on the same platform. And then say, I get 35,000 people to an event and someone else gets 5000 people to an event and the benchmark of judgment suddenly shifts just because we have more people, I don’t know why.