Is Live Fantasy Gaming the Next Big Thing in the Indian Sports Industry?
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As soon as the third wicket fell, Ravi could have easily switched off the TV and moved on to the baser things in life. After all, 3 out of his 5 chosen players in the fantasy gaming match were already back in the hut, and if the other two got out cheaply as well, it would be a total embarrassment. Thanks to live fantasy gaming however, he still had the chance to do a few changes, and much like his favourite team, come back strongly into the game. After all, even the latest web-series could not match the excitement of playing sports through self-created teams on the virtual pitch.
Live Fantasy Gaming
Live Fantasy or Draft Fantasy is the new trend in Fantasy where users can play during live matches selecting 4-6 players of their team, substituting while the game is in progress and using power-ups. It offers a richer and different experience from conventional Fantasy game platforms as it allows you to make changes to your team or your strategy even while a real match is in progress. Unlike traditional platforms where you have to create a team and lock it before a game begins, Live Fantasy gaming allows you to consider the situation of the match and change your tactics accordingly, much like you would do in the real world.
Starting from the days of ESPN Super Selector in 2001, fantasy sports fan base has grown exponentially in India, rising to 20 million and growing 10X in the last 2 years. The appeal of fantasy gaming lies in the time, effort and most importantly, the skill which users have to invest in picking the ideal squad. The potential however, has hardly been tapped, as according to the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG), the projected user base of fantasy sports in India is on course to touch 100 million by 2020, which would still be just 30% of online sports fans in India. More than 70% of the current users are men aged 25-35, with a higher disposable income.
Developing the product
However, similar gaming models and lack of engagement post team creation are a few significant concerns facing the fantasy gaming industry today. As more users start to join in, the need to seek new experiences develops. Focusing only on the rumination aspect without generating optimum engagement might also lead to reducing traffic after a point of time. This is where live fantasy gaming comes in.
From an industry perspective, live fantasy gaming works better for brand integration as the engagement quotient is undoubtedly very high. By allowing group based challenges or online contests with other unknown players, users are encouraged to unlock new features, helping them, and the advertising brands, to perform better in the process. A sports enthusiast already spent more than 40-45 minutes on a fantasy gaming platform, which is set to grow much higher with live fantasy gaming. This guarantees advertisers the undivided attention of its target audience for a prolonged period of time, helping them to earn higher revenue in the process. A marked shift can already be observed in advertisers and marketers moving the live fantasy way instead of conventional fantasy gaming platforms. Lastly, by tracking user behavior on the virtual pitch through data analytics, marketers can develop customized brand and merchandise strategies to generate a much more evolved and precise customer experience for fans.
The fantasy league success story in India has been true to its name, by registering numbers that are the stuff of fantasy for modern-day industries. However, transforming it into a serious, sustained gaming culture rather than just another fad will require constant innovation and addition of edgy dimensions such as Live fantasy gaming. After all, every fairy-tale is defined by its happy ending, and for fantasy gaming industry, creating a live experience is the only way to keep the fantasy alive!