The time period from 2012 to 2013 was a crucial one for the entire Indian online gaming industry in a variety of ways. Back in 2012, gaming startups like Dream 11, Nazara Technologies, 99 Games, and Octro were gearing up to raise fresh funding. Also, being the first major movers in this domain, these players certainly had a vision for the future of online gaming in India. However, the then prevalent macro factors like slower internet speeds along with relatively lower penetration of smartphones in the market as per todayís comparison were still a significant challenge. Naturally, startup investors were quite skeptical about putting a bet on gaming.
Simultaneously, the gambling versus skill gaming debate was also going on between different online gaming companies with the Indian legal system. Certainly, these entry barriers should have easily scared off any new player at that time. But this wasnít the case for Ankush Gera, who envisioned the success of online gaming in India and jumped into this domain with his own startup Junglee Games, back in 2012.
Coming back to the present day, it has over 25 million users in over seven countries and has doubled its net revenue as well as headcount every year ever since its launch. It achieved over 80 to 100 per cent growth. In the current fiscal year, the company will be seeing over $600 million in Annual Gross Gaming Revenue. . It is currently targeting around 40 to 50 million active users by the end of this fiscal year.
Transitioning from Advertising to Gaming
Junglee Games has its simple start in San Francisco, where Gera has been living for over 25 years. He was running a digital advertising agency named Monsoon for around ten years before it was acquired by Capital One back in 2015. It served some of the best companies in the world like Toms, HP, Yammer, etc., many of them among Fortune 100 companies and majorly helped these brands launch their own mobile experiences.
Even though the logical extension might have been towards an e-commerce platform or SaaS business, but Gera decided to follow his own passion for gaming and started a side project, Junglee Games. After establishing and getting ready a proof of concept and piloted in San Francisco, he launched Junglee Games in India, back in August 2012.
Junglee Games have launched four games so far in different categories like social (Teenpatti and Eatme.io), sports (Howzat) and skill (JungleeRummy). Even though each category has been successfully monetized, but 90 per cent of the total revenue comes from the skill-based games. Also, this is the revenue from the various daily tournaments which are hosted on the entire platform, wherein the users play for very small service fees and go on to earn cash prizes as their reward for winning.
According to Gera, out of freemium, micro-transactions and ad-based games, the best model depends on the nature of the game and especially whether it falls in games of skill genre or social gaming. Freemium is yet to gain traction in India as of now.
Also, being challenged by different companies which have more than $100 million capital with double or even triple the team size as well as significant investor backup, his company has been up against some of the most serious competitors in the business.
How Junglee Games Optimizes its Gaming Platform?
To improve the onboarding of a new user on a running game and optimizing its gaming platform, it follows a basic but innovative strategy.
First, both the new as well as existing employees start playing the game and then join different existing virtual teams on their own gaming platform. It is an in-house testing procedure which results in gaining insights about player growth dynamics.
The hypothesis followed here is that for every hundred online players, the platform will receive ten returning players, and this particular number will keep on increasing gradually. Itís fundamental retention dynamics often seen in SaaS businesses. More customers use the platform, and more is the retention rate, given they had a satisfactory experience, hence, more the fraction of total users returning to the platform.
Now, these results are then discussed with business intelligence and marketing teams. It is even shared with the data science team too, which assess the technical aspects of the particular game and also takes the assistance of a neuroscientist for doing the overall sentimental analysis of the game.
The neuroscientist is responsible for guiding the development as well as design teams on different elements like buttons, fonts, colours, styles which are much more likely to attract the usersí interest.
This is part of neuromarketing study which has been quite popular in the gaming industry as it allows the company to know the key attractive features of the game through neuro-analysis of the players’ behaviour.
Golden Era Of Online Gaming
With no death of high-speed mobile data as well as cheap smartphones, along with the adoption of digital payments, the online gaming industry has entered its golden era. Over the last couple of years, the number of overall internet subscribers has leapfrogged from 368 million back in September 2016 to a whopping 560 million in September 2018. Overall, the entire gaming industry is more likely to become a $1 billion market by the year 2020 with over 700 million mobile users.
The large youth population of India along with its rising GDP as well as per capita income and the increasing disposable income among the main target audience for gaming companies certainly mean that there is a huge scope and a big market for online gaming startups. No doubt, Junglee Games will leverage these favourable conditions and rake up millions in revenues in years to come.