I interviewed Akshat Rathee, the founder & managing director of NODWIN Gaming, at Dreamhack Delhi 2019. He gave us insights into the industry, his thoughts on mobile esports & its immense popularity, what’s next for NODWIN Gaming and Esports, and some very exciting news about DreamHack!
Satyam: DreamHack Mumbai was quite a success last year, and we wondered if there’ll be another DreamHack in India next year – all we got was an enthusiastic “Let’s see” from DreamHack’s CEO, Marcus Lindmark. And here we are, at DreamHack Delhi 2019.
How has it been organizing such a huge international gaming festival in India again? Were there any roadblocks along the way?
Akshat Rathee: There are always roadblocks. The happiness here is that it’s happened two times in a row, you can definitely see it and hear it if you walk around, there are thousands of people here and I think it’s been done very, very well again.
Roadblocks, they are always there, right? Which city do you want it to happen in, do you want it to happen again in Mumbai, or do you want to go to another city? Do you want to spread the love or do you want to make the festival once-a-tease thing? Just those issues, what do we do, how do we do things better, how do we make things nicer, more differently, how do we customize stuff, those all questions are there.
But I never call them roadblocks, for example, this year we’ve launched BYOD as a separate section. Although it all looks empty, it’s actually all sold-out – everyone’s at the PUBG Lanes to go in and play their games right now. And BYOD is sold out – some products work better, some products don’t, and that’s the revolution.
Satyam: Dreamhack’s second edition looks awesome so far. It’s happening in Delhi this time around, so is Dreamhack now happening annually in India? Will it be held in a different city next time?
Akshat Rathee: The answer to the first question is – Yes! DreamHack is going to happen annually, every year in India. If it does really well this year, maybe we’ll do two of them, soon. But which city, that’s not decided yet.
Later on, on the second day of DreamHack Delhi 2019, Akshat Rathee went on stage to announce the next edition of the festival, DreamHack Hyderabad 2020!
Satyam: Mobile esports has gained tremendous traction over the years ever since the release of games like PUBG & Call Of Duty. Do you think the mobile esports industry will stagnate the more mainstream Esports industry of games like CS:GO and Dota 2?
Akshat Rathee: Oh it already has. And I kid you not, if you look at how Counter-Strike is doing right now, (we’ve dropped Dota 2 this year) Counter-Strike has some of the best teams from six countries who are here – Thailand, Russia, Ukraine, India, Middle East, South Africa, and all of these countries are there, and there are enough people who love that.
But the lines in mobile esports are super big. India has really adopted PUBG, Free Fire, Call Of Duty, all those shooting games predominantly.
Satyam (followup): Do you think both mobile esports and PC Gaming esports will keep moving forward in its paces, or will mobile take over PC?
Akshat Rathee: Well, I think mobile has already taken over the PC Gaming industry. I actually believe mobile will now drive the PC Gaming industry. The more people play gaming and esports on mobile, they will have more PC Gamers in the future. Because after you’ve played some games on your mobile, you then want a better mobile, then an even better mobile, but then you’ll want a PC right?
Satyam: I agree, and even Ankit “V3nom” Panth said the same when I interviewed him. That mobile gaming is actually helping drive the more mainstream PC Gaming industry since that’s where all the serious gamers start heading.
Akshat Rathee: Yes, and that’s how it’s driving it! Earlier, the cost of getting into gaming in India used to be one lakh rupees – you needed a computer, a graphics card, a good mouse and internet connection. Then suddenly, phones costing twenty thousand rupees allowed you to get into gaming. Now there are many phones costing forty thousand, seventy thousand, and there are even full gaming laptops available at sixty-five thousand rupees.
Satyam: Gaming has become a lot more accessible, yes.
Akshat Rathee: Yes! And there’s no zero to sixty or seventy thousand rupees jump, there is a zero to twenty thousand, to forty thousand, to sixty thousand, seventy thousand and then one lakh rupees jump. So now, there’s an easier roadmap to becoming a gamer.
Satyam: What is NODWIN’s focus going forward into the esports industry in India? Is it focusing more on mobile esports or mainstream PC Gaming esports? Or is it equal, making all of them happen?
Akshat Rathee: We will make all of them happen. I remember, we call ourselves a gaming and esports company. And as a gaming and esports company, our focus will remain at all things esports. I don’t say this is PC Esports, this is Mobile Esports, I don’t say that this is VR Esports tomorrow, and I don’t know let’s just throw another one in there, AR Esports. It doesn’t matter – all gaming esports go hand in hand, we will go ahead and support every game that is a big deal, we recently concluded the Hyderabad IndiaJoy event, where we had Rainbow Six Siege Tournaments, it’s a new game that we supported out. It was phenomenal, new people came in who had not gone and seen this happen – the community was just phenomenal.
It’s absolute synergy. It’s dance, like Tango. If there was only mobile esports and no PC esports, we’d have a cap right, a ceiling, which you’ll reach. I often tell people – PC Gaming Esports predominantly is like Test Match Cricket. All the players want to go ahead and really play Test Match Cricket – you know, it’s the best, it’s the most elite test of your skills. And mobile esports is like IPL, everyone wants to play it, everyone is playing it, it’s easier to play, it’s easier to watch, it’s fun to watch. So Mobile Esports is like IPL, and PC Gaming Esports is like Test Match Cricket.
Satyam: That’ll be all, Thanks for your time Akshat. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.