Can Online Gaming Console the Tech Industry Amid Layoffs? Experts On How Situation May Play Out

While thousands of employees of big tech companies continue to remain worried about their future amid the layoffs, the online gaming industry in India, which is expected to reach $1.9 bn by 2024, could help reduce the burden.

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The industry currently employs nearly 50,000 people, with programmers and developers accounting for 30% of the workforce.

According to a new report from staffing firm TeamLease Digital, the industry is expected to grow by 20-30% and create one lakh new direct and indirect jobs by the end of FY23. The report highlighted that these expected new job opportunities are expected to be available across all domains, including programming, testing, animation and design.

WILL THEY, WON’T THEY?

According to Soham Thacker, CEO and Founder of Gamerji, the pace of growth of this industry would help generate more jobs, but may not help the tech guys who have faced layoffs recently. It is because apart from the technical jobs, there are other skill-based jobs such as animation, graphics, content creation, game development, professional playing, etc. which comprise the total pool of jobs in the industry. Manvendra Shukul, CEO and Founder of Lakshya, also echoed similar views and said that game development requires knowledge, as well as competencies in specific game engines or technologies, that are the core of any regular game development efforts. He believes to hire those tech company employees, there would be a need for “a major retraining/ reskilling” before they can contribute effectively to a game development project.

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However, Roland Landers, CEO of All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) believes that the gaming industry may help decrease the heat of layoffs. He told News18: “There is a huge demand for highly skilled talent and the gaming industry can act as a window of opportunity for many who have had to face lay-offs recently, especially if they are keen to contribute to a sunrise sector for Digital India.”

THE PAY STATION

According to AIGF’s Landers, in terms of salary, packages may vary from place to place and a lot depends on how profitable the industry is. “For instance, ambiguities in the valuation mechanisms for collecting goods and services tax (GST) from the industry can lead to disastrous outcomes and needs to be addressed so that we do not end up having an 1100% increase in tax liability,” he said, adding, “This ambiguity in the GST regime can have ripple effects affecting profitability.”

Meanwhile, Gamerji CEO said gaming pays at par or maybe even more in certain positions for specialised talent than the conventional IT jobs. “Good content creators or game developers are paid handsomely for their skills,” he said. He also said that the game development or the virtual graphics industry pays the most; not only Indian, but foreign companies also outsource their work to skilled Indian game development studios. “Besides development, even content creation yields good money for influencers, where brands pay anywhere from a few thousand to lakhs for ad integrations,” Thacker noted.

Lakshya’s CEO Shukul told News18 that there is a misconception that the video games industry doesn’t pay enough but in reality, it is one of the best paymasters compared to most of the sectors. “If you look at game engineering, with the right skills, it pays much more than a regular IT job would in India and abroad. Even in the art and animation field of game development, artists get paid as much as or even more than any other regular job for an artist.”

“The same holds true for a game designer position. Other positions in the gaming industry pay the same, if not more, than their equivalents in other industries,” he added.

JOB AT HAND

According to Landers, in the gaming industry, there are a lot of roles available across different levels for those who want to enter. When asked whether the industry prefers experienced individuals over freshers, Landers believe that talent matters the most, and whether someone is new or experienced is secondary to it.

Thacker stated it is very difficult to find experienced talent in gaming because of the age of the industry. “Hence fresh talent with good interest to learn is preferred,” he added.

Meanwhile, Shukla stated that although experienced people are preferred, given the nascent stage of the industry and the lack of relevant talent, companies are forced to hire people with less experience. But he believes that with the right basic competencies and skills, the required training for upskilling can be provided. “That is why focus on creating good and industry-relevant training programmes is the need of the hour,” he suggested.

GROWTH STORY

Landers stated that India’s gaming industry has seen the greatest adoption in the mobile gaming segment.

According to him, unlike the context overseas, India has seen great smartphone-based growth, while good gaming computers or consoles are still quite unaffordable for most gamers. “As mobile gaming has seen the most adoption in India, it is also the sector that is seeing a lot of growth. Hopefully, we will see an increase in demand for esports, PC and console gaming,” said Landers.

However, Bhaskar Majumdar, Managing Partner, Unicorn India Ventures told News18 that this industry is burgeoning with the number of gamers, especially GenZ, and with the new emerging companies working in this space, there are increasing opportunities for young talent to pursue direct or indirect avenues.

He also believes that with the intersection of Web3, Metaverse and gamification, more companies will emerge in this space and create opportunities for young talent.

Citing a report by Niko Partners, Majumdar said that the PC and mobile gaming market in India are projected to reach a total of 396.4 million gamers this year, generating a player spending of $704.5 million.

“India is currently the fastest growing market both in terms of revenue and number of gamers in the Asia-10 region. The future of online gaming will undoubtedly be a boom and will witness massive growth,” he noted.

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