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Rummy Culture has over 30% growth in user base YoY: Amit Kushwaha

The Indian gaming market stands at $930 million today and the industry is predicted to soon grow bigger than the music, movie and television industries put together, according to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Ikigai Law, titled ‘Unpacking a Billion Dollar Industry: Digital Sports & Games in India’.

The report reveals that there has been a steep rise of Indian game developers. India has 275 game development companies with over 15,000 game developers. Around 5,468 Indian game publishers are present on the Google Play Store offering 19,518 games across categories. India is also a global talent hub for the gaming industry. International studios like Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Nvidia, and Zynga already have centres in India. ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’ promoting Indian game developers will create huge returns and help India position itself as a market leader in gaming.

Bangalore-based gaming start-up, Gameskraft, is fast creating a niche for itself in the Indian gaming market. It’s online card gaming platform, Rummy Culture, has been gaining traction amid the pandemic times. The company is dedicated to promoting Rummy as a strategy-driven game and busting myths around it. Recently, they rolled out a campaign – called ‘Culture of Champions’ – which featured sports ambassadors, namely Harbhajan Singh, Abhinav Bindra, Mahesh Bhupati and Pankaj Advani. The campaign has been launched in multiple languages.

This apart, Rummy Culture is also hosting the Indian Rummy League at the moment, which offers exciting prizes for users to be won.

In conversation with Adgully, Amit Kushwaha, Head - Brand Strategy, Gameskraft, speaks about this latest campaign and celebrity associations, marketing strategies, the Indian Rummy League, promotion of rummy as a game of skills, as well as growth during the pandemic times.

Could you give us an overview of the online gaming sector, especially during the pandemic period?

According to the latest Deloitte India report, the online gaming industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40%, that is, from $1.1 billion in 2019 to $2.8 billion by 2022. This growth is fuelled by high RAM powered and easy-on-the-pocket smartphones along with affordable data plans. Online gaming had already been on a growth trajectory, but the pandemic fuelled this growth. The total number of online gamers crossed the 300-million mark not just in terms of users, but also in terms of time spent per user due to the absence of other entertainment and recreational options during the pandemic. Most recently, we have noticed a slight tumble in the overall gamers’ population owing to current scenarios, but it is enough to sustain growth with no major turf noted. We are very hopeful about the growth of the gaming sector in the mid- to long-term period. 

What is the kind of traction and growth of the gamer base that you have seen for Rummy Culture since 2020?

We have seen more than 30% growth in user base on a year-on-year (YOY) basis and a jump of 20% in sessions per user. The growth during the initial lockdown was on the higher side but post that, we saw a slight balance in growth. Overall, the years 2020 and 2021, up until now, have been good for us and we have been registering healthy growth figures. We expect this to continue and are planning on multiple fronts to accelerate and maintain our momentum. 

How have you been promoting Rummy as a strategy-driven game and busting myths around it?

We are committed to getting rummy its much-deserved space in the eyes of the people. We want to educate people on the difference between the “game of chance” and the “game of skill”. Rummy is a game of skill that requires immense concentration, focus, strategy, game planning, accuracy, quick decision-making, pre-empting how the game will unfold and planning accordingly. All these skills are required in playing other sports like shooting, cricket, tennis, billiards, and chess. Considering this, why then should one treat rummy as merely a gambling or a card game when it is played like any other sport? Moreover, the Honourable Supreme Court of India has also declared rummy as a game of skill. 

Our latest campaign, ‘Culture of Champions’, is aimed at eliminating these biases that surround rummy as a game in the minds of people. We want to communicate that rummy as a sport is a game of skill, not a game of chance. We realised there was a need to properly educate people on rummy, so we decided to recently launch the RummyCulture Academy on our website, where we provide our audience with authentic information about the game. Thus, anyone who is keen on learning about rummy can access that platform and learn there. We will continue to invest our efforts towards busting myths surrounding rummy because we strongly believe that its overall growth will also help others grow at a higher speed.

Could you tell us about your latest campaign featuring some well-known sports stars of India? What is the prime objective and strategy behind this campaign? What was the brief given to your creative agency?

As said above, we want rummy to get its much-deserved positive perception in the minds of people. It is a game that requires skills like concentration, focus, strategising, game planning, accuracy, quick decision-making, etc. Our goal is to bust myths about rummy and change its positioning from being just a game of cards to a complete sport, much like tennis, cricket, shooting, and billiards which also often require similar skill sets. To make our point stand out clearer, our campaign features sports legends such as Abhinav Bindra, Harbhajan Singh, Pankaj Advani and Mahesh Bhupathi. Coming of these legends on board made our communication stronger and has given the required trust factor to our campaign.

We want to portray rummy as closely related to these games not in terms of physical attributes, but more at a level of skills. If you look at our ad films, we are not promoting a culture of ‘winners’. We are trying to promote a ‘Culture of Champions’ because we strongly feel that rummy is a sport and champions can emerge even here. Rummy Culture as a platform gives people a chance to become champions by playing rummy on the platform. Through our current campaign, we are trying to promote the game of rummy overall as a sport and not just Rummy Culture.

Here, Ketan Desai, COO, Grey & Autumn Grey India, the creative agency behind this campaign, provided some more insight into the ‘Culture of Champions’ campaign and said, “The brief given was ambitious on two counts. How do we position ourselves as thought leaders in a category that is: a) crowded; and b) where there is very little product differentiation? We realised that in order to be thought leaders, we need to reposition the game of rummy and not just Rummy Culture. We took on the big task of positioning rummy as a game of skill like every other sport is. This is where our sports stars came in. We carefully selected those sportsmen who have become world champions, through their skill, temperament, dedication, and practice. Interestingly, these are the same skills one needs to be a champion at rummy.”

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