Today, all the esports athletes are making good money: Jai Shah, Orangutan Gaming

The Indian esports market is predicted to reach Rs 11 billion by the year 2025, as per industry reports, though India currently represents 1% of the global gaming market. High speed connectivity, affordable costs of gadgets, higher disposable income, cheaper Internet costs are some of the reasons for the increasing growth of the gaming industry. India currently has around 658 million Internet users, making it the second largest home to internet consumers in the world. The inclination towards esports is rapidly driving from the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Currently, the revenue generated from gaming stands at $1.5 billion. Bigger brands are sponsoring professional teams and esports tournaments. Around 40,000 people are presently employed in the Indian gaming industry and the figure is predicted to reach around 2 lakh by 2024.

Orangutan Gaming, one of the biggest players in the esports gaming sector, is a multi-faceted organisation that operates in three verticals – talent management, apparel and esports. The esports gaming division creates niche gaming content besides having competitive teams in Valorent, BGMI and Free Fire, competing to win championships and tournaments. A wide ranging pool of influencers and content creators, constitute the talent management vertical, to collaborate with their partnered brands in order to produce, create and promote unconventional content. It is also launching its premium line of merchandise and apparel.

In conversation with Adgully, Jai Shah, Co-founder, Orangutan Gaming, said, “We want to back our players in a way where they have nothing to worry about, they are just focusing on the games that we are playing, winning at the Indian level, at the regional level, going out and representing the organisation and the country at the global level”. Excerpts:

How has the journey of Orangutan Gaming been so far?

The journey has been great. We started almost one to two years back in May of 2021, since then we have come a long way. We started out with two people, Yash and I, and now we are a team of 475 people. The team is working with the same vision and a single goal in mind, to make a big name within the whole esports industry, not just in India but globally. We wanted to try and be a global brand, not just stick ourselves to India, and with time, we started off with the BGMI team, moved on to Free Fire. Just recently a month back, we signed a Singaporean team. It has been a great journey, we have grown a lot. But I keep telling everyone that we are just getting started. We are just 1% there. We are very soon going to announce our esports training facility as well. So we are going to launch that next month. It is something that the whole industry is looking forward to, because there is so much hype that is being created around the facility and I can say that it is going to be one of India’s finest, best esports facilities that has come.

What are your existing partnerships?

One of the ways esports teams like us work is having sponsorships. So, we have four partners till now. We have Rooter, who is our official streaming partner; we have a Canadian company launching in India, who is our esports gaming chess partner; we have Fanclash, who is our official fantasy partner; and we have Socio, who is our refreshment partner.

What are the recent tournaments that you have participated in?

We are one of the top three teams in India, in terms of each of the games that we are into. We have won several tournaments. We have won Free Fire India championship. We just played this tournament called the BGMI Master series, which was telecasted on Star Sports and we were second runners up there. Immediately after that we played the BGMI Showdown, which was an official tournament by the game developers, where we became runners up again. So, we have been participating in a lot of tournaments. In terms of the content, it is a very big part of the organisation in everything that we are doing, because the way we proceed as an organisation, because all the content is digitally consumed.

Today, it is very important for us to make good engaging content for all the fans and communities that we are building. That is how the content is taking place. Till the month of June, we were very active on Instagram as a platform, because there is a lot of short form content, which is being promoted over there, but for the long form content, we are using YouTube as a platform. We just launched our YouTube channel a week back. So, now there is a lot of traction. Content, which is  seven to eight minutes long or from seven minutes onwards, will be posted on YouTube.

What are the marketing activities undertaken by Orangutan Gaming to promote its brand?

To be very honest, everything that we are doing is very organic. So, there is no marketing activity as such. We are not sponsoring anything, we are not even going out there and trying to promote ourselves, because the players that we have in our teams are already marketing us by representing us and winning in those top tournaments. Marketing and branding both are happening organically, where I don’t need to go out there, sponsor ads or do any of those things. Everything that we are doing is organically building our brand.

What are your future plans?

Now that we have got five teams on board, we are not looking actively at expanding the teams. We are not actively looking for onboarding more teams. Obviously, if we get an opportunity, we are very open to having them on board. At least for now, the main aim that we have is to make sure that the players that we have, the athletes that we have, we make them superstars, like Virat Kohli. We want to back them in a way where they have nothing to worry about, they are just focusing on the games that we are playing, winning at the Indian level, at the regional level, going out and representing the organisation and the country at the global level. Making a name for ourselves and in terms of expansion, another thing that we are getting into is talent management, which is something called influencer management, where we have content creators on board, as well as gaming specific content creators – not always competitive, but someone who can entertain the people.

The business goal is to get them brand deals and getting them a lot more exposure from the organisations. So, talent management is one vertical that we are starting very soon. We have already kickstarted it at a very small level, but in the year to come, we are going to very actively build that vertical and eventually within a span of six to eight months, we are going to launch our own premium line of street wear apparel. Again, that is a completely different audience altogether, we are trying to build this vertical as a completely independent vertical. Today, the people who are watching esports, the target audience that we cater to is a big street wear fan. Once our community is built, once we have those content creators on board who can help us build the brand as well, we are planning to launch the apparel line.

What are the trends that you have observed in the esports industry?

Earlier in 2018-2019, though esports as an industry existed, it was at a much lower level than what it is right now. The lockdown period of 2020 was when PUBG mobile got very popular as people were restricted to their homes. They started playing games like PUBG and Free Fire, which became very popular. That’s when the whole industry entered the whole boom phase. The roadmap was there earlier as well. There were a couple of teams, who were there for a while, who represented India at a global level as well. Non-endemic brands like Swiggy, Hyundai, Spotify, have started partnering with the esports tournaments. Once brands like Star Sports start investing, other brands such as Sony also entered the market. Eventually three to four years down the line, you can expect esports to be like Premier Kabaddi League and IPL, mainstream kind of sports that the GenZs and millennials watch.


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