Octro is a new age platform that aims to create leisure and gaming options for the world at large. Headquartered in India, it is one of the largest and fastest-growing global mobile gaming companies with runaway leadership in the genre of cards, casinos, and casual games. Octro’s games like Teen Patti, Indian Rummy, and Tambola have been amongst the top ten apps across both the Apple iOS and Google Play stores. Octro has the luxury of Sequoia Capital as one of their main investors and boasts over a 200million players. A brand that is deeply committed to supporting the AatmaNirbharBharat initiative by giving the Indian cultural gaming ecosystem the boost it needs while simultaneously creating global impact. One of the newest games from the Octro portfolio is Octro Poker, which has fast become one of the world’s most immersive 3D poker apps.
In conversation with Medianews4u, Manav Sethi, Chief Marketing Officer, Octro Inc. spoke about the irregularities and inconsistencies that can impact the huge growth potential of the gaming industry. He also spoke about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the online gaming industry in India.
Speaking about the hugely popular launch of Octro Poker and the reaction of the gamers, Sethi said, “Octro Poker had a very unique launch. For the first time, an Indian studio has successfully launched a poker game in the heartland of poker, the USA. We are proud to state that Octro Poker is at par with those of our competitors Zynga Poker, PokerStars, etc., and is also available in different modes like Blind Poker, 5 Card Poker, etc. The game comes with unique 3D visual features like player personalization, private tables with voice chat, detailed player statistics, poker tournaments, and rewards among many others.
“There is a dire need for harmonizing central and state laws,” observes Sethi while discussing the constant ban faced by the online games in different states.
“The Public Gambling Act of 1867 in India is extremely outdated. As gaming and gambling fall under the concurrent list of the Indian constitution, every state is therefore forced to make and follow its own laws. The due process for any legislation involves a process of public and stakeholder consultation which has not happened vis a vis gaming regulation yet. Without delving into details or diagnosing the root causes, most state laws pertaining to gaming and gambling are formed basis on a knee-jerk reaction to an untoward incident. Most often, these laws are passed on the basis of a need for a Public Interest Litigation (PIL),” Sethi added.
He further continued, “However, the industry bodies related to online gaming are adhering to self-regulatory norms and are today being audited by professionally recognised and respected firms like EY, KPMG, etc. Therefore, to create a predictable and level playing field for Indian gaming start-ups and to attract foreign investments, we need a robust regulatory environment for the Indian online gaming industry.
With regard to specific games, Octro has grown more than 100 percent Quarter on Quarter during the multiple nation-wide lockdowns.“We have Octro Tambola, which various organizations use as an employee-family engagement platform. The game of Teen Patti has seen a huge growth in the number of players resulting in Octro Inc. being the only Indian studio in the Top 5 grossing games in the country. This has seen a direct positive impact in player deposits with a growth of about 100 percent. In a nutshell, the onset of the global public health crisis has fast-tracked levels of growth which were only expected over the next 6-8 quarters,” Sethi said.
The outbreak of the pandemic also witnessed the birth of many first-time gamers and gamers from tier 2 and tier 3 cities who have ventured into the world of online gaming during the Government mandated lockdown periods.“Octro is working tirelessly on providing a personalized experience to players and this requires a considerable amount of engineering, data science, creative and marketing efforts. The two most popular genres of games are Tambola where 80 % of the players are women and 20% are men. And, Octro Poker and Teen Patti where 80% of the players are men and 20% are women. 70 percent of consumers across the Board in all our games is from Top 10 metros with a fairly disproportionate skew leaning towards North India. The last 4-6 quarters has seen tremendous growth in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, and this is because of a rise in the level of disposable income and time of the residents, penetration of high-speed internet services, and mobile telephony backed by data speeds the likes of which these cities have never seen before,” he added.
“There is a deep and wide misconception around the fact that Indians won’t pay to consume content. In my opinion, Indian gamers are to a large extent more than willing to pay for high-quality, engaging, and easy to absorb content. However, this depends largely on the platform, the user-friendly offerings, and the overall experience in the consumption of said content,” Sethi said.
Talking about the technologies that are going to define the online gaming sector, Sethi said, “Octro wants to offer its users and customers a high-quality and seamless connected experience, with a lot of gaming consumptions moving to browser-based or cloud-based games. We are also witnessing a fast increase in NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) and a rise in metaverse which will have a large impact on the gaming sector. This is mainly because it is assumed that NFTs will become the stream of payment and revenue over the long run. However, it is important to note that all these forthcoming trends rely on the amounts of investments being made into Data Science & Engineering in the gaming sector.”
Octro today is witnessing a few parallel trends of growth from a monetization standpoint.“We are one of the very few gaming companies in the country where reliability on ads is minuscule. 95% of our revenue comes from the in-app purchase or real money gaming, and only 5% comes from the ads.”
Lastly, Octro has opted to adopt the Digital-first route for its marketing and advertising communications.“100 percent of our consumers are digital revenue streams for us and thus, 100 percent of our ad spends are on digital platforms. Our marketing-ad budgets for FY2021-22 is around Rs 100 crore,” Sethi concluded.