While India has talent, the gaming industry is struggling to find it

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Today, most start-ups in India are looking to downsize and cut expenses to overcome the funding crunch that has hit the industry hard. Industry estimates suggest that more than 7,000 people have already lost their jobs in the ecosystem, and many more face an uncertain future.


In this context, there is a set of start-ups that contrast sharply: game start-ups where there are a lot of jobs and the founders are constantly on the lookout for talent. The space, however, is plagued with a serious eternal problem of its own: the lack of talent.


This crisis also comes at a time when companies were only beginning to grasp the huge opportunity and potential of gambling in the country. The segment has grown by leaps and bounds during the pandemic, both in India and globally. The increase in the number of wireless internet users, growth in the smartphone base and changes in the perception of gaming as a means of entertainment have only fueled the growth of the sector.


The numbers are equally impressive. With 420 million casual online gamers, India is second only to China. India’s online gaming sector reached $1.03 billion in 2020, a growth of around 17.3% from $543 million in 2016. With its current trajectory, it is expected to reach $2 billion. by 2023 in terms of commissions collected, found an EY-All Report by the Indian Gaming Federation (AIGF) titled Online Gambling in India – The GST Conundrum. In June 2021, KPMG described India as one of the fastest growing gaming markets in the world, highlighting the industry’s future potential. Add to that the approximately 400 start-ups present in the sector and you know that the sector is on fire. The problem, however, is that the country doesn’t have enough talent to keep burning.

Barriers to Hiring


Most of the companies stepping up their operations due to expanding industry, demand for game developers, game designers, front-end and back-end engineers, product managers, 3D modelers, character animation experts and people with experience in game logic and graphics design has grown significantly.




While there has been innovation on the product side, the industry is certainly facing a talent shortage when it comes to game development and related skills, says AIGF CEO Roland Landers. “Evolution is happening on the technology side, which creates a demand for new talent, especially in the areas of live editing, production and post-production. With more than 200 to 300 development companies of games currently in India, the demand for the right talent will only grow,” he says.


Metaverse, one of the biggest buzzwords in today’s parlance, has added another layer of complexity. Gaming has become one of the most important use cases for the Metaverse. The same was confirmed by Microsoft President and CEO Satya Nadella when he said: “Gaming is the fastest growing and most exciting category in entertainment on any platform today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms”, while announcing the plan of the technological major. to acquire game publisher Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. The popularity of Roblox, a children’s gaming platform, only confirms the potential of gaming in the metaverse. However, the metaverse involves advanced technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality and 3D, which makes finding relevant talent more difficult.


Highlighting the talent issue, Saurabh Gupta, co-founder of Tamasha.live, a platform creating a next-generation gaming metaverse, said, “The gaming industry in India is still in its infancy, with most actions taking place over the last four to five years. years. So there is a very limited pool of senior playing talent.


Compensation could be another downside, believes Murali Reddy, co-founder and COO of Bullieverse, an open fantasy metaverse designed specifically for blockchain-based gamers and creators. “One thing is to find resources on the gaming side while another is to find Web3 (third slice of the Internet) resources. Apart from developers in the game industry, other skills such as level design, 3D character modeling, etc. don’t attract much compensation, so few choose to do this job,” he says.


While most industry players claim that compensation in the gaming space is comparable to that of the IT sector, the actual numbers do not support this claim. Saptarishi Ganguly, a Bengaluru-based game developer who completed a gaming certification program in Japan before embarking on a full-time gaming career, says the industry has no set standards. “I used to work full time at a game studio, but I was frustrated with what I was getting paid. I’m a freelancer now and I make 3 times more than I used to make there years ago,” he says, adding that his experience working in Japan perhaps gives him an edge over any other local developer.



Look outward


One of the ways game companies are trying to fill the talent gap is by recruiting professionals from other countries.


Speaking of Web3 companies, Sunny Makroo, founder of Zippy, a company that creates a metaverse for runners, says there is a clear trend of hiring talent from all over the world. “As the structure of these start-ups is decentralized, with most companies offering permanent work from anywhere, they can access places such as Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia where good talent is available,” he said. While Makroo has yet to start hiring overseas, many of his peers are looking for talent across borders.


“We have a strong team of investors, creators and developers, but we need to hire game developers, 3D modelers, level designers and character animation experts from countries such as the UK, Peru, Ukraine and Indonesia to meet the needs of the platform,” says Bullieverse’s Reddy.


Gupta agrees, adding that while most of his team is based in India, finding talent for specific roles like game designers and game producers is a bit difficult in India. “For junior positions, we have hired non-gaming industries and provided them with the proper training, resources and tools to help them adapt to the gaming industry. Countries like the Philippines and Vietnam have access to a pool of high-quality talent at affordable costs,” he says.


Like Gupta, PR Rajendran, founder of Nextwave, a Nazara Technologies company, has chosen the training route and prefers to train graduates for six to eight months before integrating them into his company. But, for some advisory roles, he too has to look abroad. “We hire consultants in certain categories overseas where we don’t have expertise or want someone in an advisory role. We do it in time. Game developers, data science, product manager, game art – these are the areas where there is a constant struggle to attract and retain talent,” he says.


Even in the face of this trend, Witzeal Technologies, a new era gaming technology company, says it is careful to only hire local talent, even in Tier II and Tier III cities. “We believe in developing talent internally with on-the-job training. From our experience over the past six years, candidates from Tier II and Tier III cities also have the desired talent and skills,” says Founder and CEO Ankur Singh.


Hiring talent from other countries also has a cost. “We could save at least 60-70% of the money per resource if we could hire locally,” Reddy says. Gupta estimates this figure at 20-25%. “The most important thing about working with local talent is easy communication,” he adds.



course correction


Tamasha.live’s Gupta says the good thing is that for many roles, like game development and design, people can easily equip themselves with relevant skills.


His statement also highlights the huge gap between industry and academia. None of the government-owned institutions or universities in India offer courses on gaming. Some private institutes such as ICAT Design and Media College in Chennai, Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics in Mumbai, Zee Institute of Creative Arts in Bengaluru and Arena Animation Centers offer 6-12 month courses in game design , game development, effects, among others. Lately, some edtechs have also started offering courses related to online games.


Pointing out that there are around 15,000 game developers in India compared to six million software developers, Gupta says, “There is clearly a lot of room for growth given that the gaming industry has been one of the fastest growing industries in recent years. .”


Rajendran believes that part of the problem can be solved if institutes design courses in close coordination with industry, provide plenty of internships and maintain transparency. “Our curriculum does not support skills related to the gaming industry. It can be a great added value if a gaming curriculum, not just video games, is taught in schools,” says Reddy.

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