Real money gaming is booming in India, especially games that require skill and strategy to win money. In fact, skill-based gaming industry is expected to grow by 34% annually by 2024, thanks to factors like cheap smartphones, low data costs, and digital payment options.
Head Digital Works, a major player in this sector, is the owner of A23 Rummy and Cricket.com. The company’s flagship platform, A23 Rummy, provides players with various rummy games for cash incentives. In addition to this, the company also has a subsidiary called Fanfight under its umbrella, and Cricket.com, which is an AI-powered platform that provides cricket predictions and analysis.
We spoke to Deepak Gullapali, CEO of Head Digital Works and Visvesvarryya Neelakantan, CTO of Head Digital Works, to learn more about the real money gaming market in India and its future potential. They shared their views on topics such as the regulatory hurdles, the target audience, and the role of AI in their products.
Q: How do you see the future of real money gaming in India? What are your expectations from the government regarding regulation?
A: (Deepak) Over the past year, the real money gaming sector has seen both exciting developments and significant challenges. The increasing availability of affordable smartphones, coupled with technological advancements like 5G and simplified in-game payments, has provided a major boost to the industry.
Moreover, the recent focus of the Government of India on regulating the online real money gaming industry is a long-awaited and positive step. Looking ahead, we are hopeful that our sector will soon be regulated in a more centralized manner. By doing so, we anticipate that the industry will be able to unlock its true potential in a more streamlined way. Overall, we are confident that the coming year will be a period of growth for the gaming industry as a whole. We are witnessing a steady growth in the number of real money gamers in India and know that this is just the start for this sector at large.
Q: Who are your target market and demographic segments? Which states drive the highest traffic for your platforms?
A: (Deepak) Our products are available on major app stores across states except the ones that have restricted online real-money games. Maharashtra and Karnataka are our key markets driving the highest amount of traffic. Players from Tier 2 and 3 towns make for more than half of our user-base. Do note that metros are still our most rewarding markets. We have more than 5 crore registered players on the platform with 45% of them being between the age group of 26-35 years.
Visvesvarryya Neelakantan, CTO of Head Digital Works, also explained how AI fits in real money gaming and what happens behind the scene.
Q: As far as matchmaking goes, the primary objective is that it should go right—the experts should match with experts and beginners with the beginners. Do you follow this at HDW as well?
A: (Visvesvarryya) We have different Tiers based on the experience level of the player on the platform. A beginner sits on a table with players of similar skill and level. Same goes for experts who play on higher Tier like Silver, Gold and VIP.
Q: How do you handle user registration, payment clarity, withdrawal time and fraud detection on your platforms?
A: (Visvesvarryya) We collect PAN card details of users who sign up on our platforms. In case the player comes through PlayStory, Aadhaar Card information is required to sign up. We also have an in-game closed wallet where users can deposit and withdraw money easily. A user can withdraw whenever he/she has winnings. The amount is credited instantly. Exceptions happen in case of any compliance issue. We use AI to detect any fraudulent activities or attempts to manipulate the game outcomes.
Q: What are some of the benefits of using AI in real money games?
A: (Visvesvarryya) We use AI to analyze gaming patterns and preferences of our users and provide them with personalized gameplay experience. We also use AI to monitor screen time limit and warn or restrict users who spend too much time or money on our platforms, and to prevent people from chasing losses by offering them responsible gaming features such as self-exclusion or cooling-off periods.
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