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Game for it: Why young esports content creators are the new stars for brands

Earlier this week, when Loco was screening the first esports tournament held in the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region, the Indian gaming streaming platform had more users on it than Twitch, the world’s de facto gamer streaming platform. It signifies the rapid growth of streaming and content creation in the country, not just as a means of entertainment, but as a career for thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands of aspiring young Indians, armed with just a phone and a personality (and possibly a PC).

This National Youth Day, e4m explores why a career in streaming and creating content, whether in gaming or just in general entertainment, is not only viable, but very lucrative.


Behind the Scenes

Vaibhav Odhekar, Co-founder and COO at POKKT, notes that with the inclination of enterprises engaging in the gaming industry, it must not come as a surprise that the number of streamers and gamers has gradually increased.

“Industry innovations have also created bundles of opportunities for gamers, making them economically independent in an entirely new way. This is a billion-dollar industry and is expected to snowball in the coming years,” he says, adding, “Brands can blend their campaigns in between such streams or content keeping in mind that the flow is not disrupted. As the audience for such forms of entertainment is quite patient, it helps the brand to engage with the viewer efficiently. Choosing the right creator is crucial for leading a successful campaign.”

Raghav Bagai, Co-founder of Sociowash, agrees that integrating streamers and creators into advertising campaigns can be a great way to reach a highly engaging audience. “As we know in India, Influencer marketing is a Rs 1275 crore industry, with a CAGR of 25% it is projected to grow and reach Rs 2800 crore in the next 5 years. Streamers and creators can create sponsored content for brands, promoting their products or services within their streams or videos. This can be done through product placement, brand mentions, or even dedicated sponsored videos, further fuelling the social commerce hype in India.”

Divyansh Gala, Group Head – Outreach, SoCheers, says it is nothing short of fantastical that today becoming a gaming streamer or gaming content creator is a viable career option. “This is especially fascinating for a generation who grew up amidst the mind-blowing evolution of video games, who has an immense fondness for them and who would never have imagined that they could make a living by playing games. This is a major allure for people towards this vocation.”

The pandemic also had a crucial role in amplifying the growth of the gamer tribe and the larger gaming industry as well. “There are many gaming and entertainment streamers, both national and international, who found popularity on the back of the pandemic gaming sensation – ‘Among Us’. We even saw established comedians like Tanmay Bhat and CarryMinati leverage the gaming angle as they saw the potential of developing their “brand” as wholesome entertainers,” adds Gala.

Suraj Nambiar, National Media Head, Tonic Worldwide, points out that many streamers and creators have built large and dedicated audiences, and as a result, they have become valuable partners for advertisers looking to reach those audiences. “For example, streamers and creators often work with brands to create sponsored content, in which they feature a product or service in their streams or video, or create in-game experiences that incorporate the brands’ messaging. Streamers also use affiliate marketing and referral links for extra income.”

In order to monetize their image and deals, Indian creators can work with brands to create sponsored content; they can also sell branded merchandise, or look into affiliate marketing, where they get a commission for promoting other company’s products.

Preety Singh, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Boomlet Media, says that to integrate content with brand campaigns, content creators will need to innovate and keep creativity at the center while keeping in mind the core theme of the entire campaign of the brands for better brand engagement with their target audience.

“Although creative and innovative content plays a crucial role in building an image and gaining a large number of followers, in the present scenario, when the number of influencers belonging to a particular niche is in the range of thousands/ lakhs, influencers can be associated with influencer marketing agencies for getting better deals,” she adds.

“Overall, working with streamers and creators can be a great way to add value to your brand. It’s worth noting that as a creator or streamer, it’s important to be transparent with your audience when it comes to sponsored content or partnerships, as well as to only promote products or services that align with your values and you truly believe in,” asserts Bagai.

Fun and Games

Firasat Durrani, co-founder, Loco, as an interesting analogy. “In earlier times, before the advent of the internet, the only opportunities for live, interactive entertainment would be going to a circus or a fair, where you could actually engage with performers and performances in real time, laughs, gaffes, and all. And that circus or fair would employ a large cross-section of people, not just performers, but management, support staff and others.”

A similar thing is happening in the streaming and content creation industry, the carnival of the internet era, as influencer channels employ a host of professionals apart from performers, including but not limited to camera operators, sound engineers, video editors, social media managers, and more. It’s an entire industry, and even a camera-shy kid can be a part of the industry in a technical capacity.

As Mitesh Kothari, Co-founder and CCO, White Rivers Media, points out, videos, especially short form, are one of the most rampant forms of content at present. “YouTube’s creative ecosystem is a popular and highly lucrative platform for budding content creators. It has alone contributed over Rs 10,000 crore to the Indian GDP and has supported more than 750,000 full-time equivalent jobs in India. YouTube has also announced its new monetization possibilities with short-form content. Instagram Reel content creators are also on the rise. Other social media and short video platforms that dominate the vernacular segments include, ShareChat, Moj, MX TakaTak, and Chingari.”

Durrani notes that while YouTube continues to rule the roost, its ubiquity powered by its parent Google, Indian platforms are steadily gaining traction. “We have the means to scale up, and are seeing seven figure audience numbers. So the market is there. It’s our job to foster that community, help it evolve from within, as well as attract more players, viewers and everyone in between.”

Singh says, “From an Indian perspective, the most popular platforms include YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Rooter, and Loco. India has the highest number of YouTube users worldwide, close to almost 450 million. While other platforms are also gaining popularity and a large viewership, the creators can opt to be available on multiple platforms.” Not to mention formats.

Navdeep Sharma, Co-founder, ReelStar says that indeed, streamers and creators are redefining what it means to be a professional. “eSports streamers and content creators are the rising stars of online content creators, joining the ranks of traditional media outlets like newspapers and magazines. The fact that these types of channels are growing so rapidly suggests something about our society: that we’re increasingly interested in seeing and experiencing things first-hand rather than reading about them or watching them on television.”

“Social Media and eSports platforms, these days, have become a place where people can connect over shared interests and experiences. It’s not hard to see that these platforms comprise an extremely diverse community: where there are streamers of all ages, genders, nationalities, races, sexual orientations and more can come together to share their passions and experiences. From streamers and content creators to viewers, social media platforms and esports are helping people connect in meaningful ways,” says Sharma.

Gala agrees, saying, with millions of regular people dabbling in online games ranging from ‘Minecraft’ to ‘Ludo King’, and everything in between, this audience is actively seeking out gaming content online. So, gaming content creators are in a perfect position to interact with a highly engaged audience in a comparatively new way, and the brands recognise this advantage.

As Kothari concludes, “The creator economy contributes to more than simply platforms. In addition to fostering a community, it brings together businesses and consumers and enables them to focus on a wide range of audiences from all sectors.”

 So parents, guardians, teachers, let the children play.


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