Exclusive Interview: Yashash Agarwal – CEO and Co-founder of Gamezop

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Online gaming in India, be it real-money gaming or casual gaming, has seen tremendous growth in the past few years, especially during the pandemic-induced lockdown period. The momentum has sustained and the industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12%, reaching 700 million gamers in FY25 as per a Dentsu report.

One such online casual gaming entity which has been part of the growth story is Gamezop. The “plug-and-play” casual gaming platform, which integrates with non-gaming websites and apps, sees 45 million users per month. The games, which are licensed by the company, have been embedded within more than 7000 non-gaming websites and apps, including Amazon, Paytm, Samsung Internet, Tata Play, and many more.

We caught up with Yashash Agarwal, CEO and Co-founder of Gamezop, to talk about the origins of the company, the business and revenue models, the funding rounds that it has gone through, as well as the rise of female gamers, the issue of gaming addiction, and a lot more.

Edited excerpts:

How did the idea to start Gamezop come about? Tell us about the journey of coming up with the final product. 

Growing up surrounded by rapidly evolving technology, I observed a significant gap in the mobile gaming industry. Despite the plethora of games and apps available, the process of finding, downloading, and deleting them was tedious and time-consuming. I realized that the mobile gaming experience lacked simplicity and required improvement.

To tackle this issue, I developed an idea for a gaming platform that would allow hundreds of games to be instantly playable, similar to watching videos. Rather than creating yet another app, I envisioned this platform as a gaming section within other popular apps and websites. My goal was to construct a multi-gaming platform with a B2B2C distribution model. The thought was to find apps and websites as distribution partners and granting their users access to our games. Gamezop emerged as a result of this vision.

Around this time, I discussed my plans for the platform with my elder brother, Gaurav, who was working with Bain & Company and had an interest in the gaming industry. After considering my ideas, he decided to quit his job, and we became co-founders of Gamezop.

Today, Gamezop stands as a leading gaming platform, embedding games within over 7,000 apps and websites, and engaging with more than 45 million users each month.

How did you fund the venture at the beginning? Who are the investors now and what are the various funding rounds have you gone through?

Gamezop embarked on its journey by being selected at GSF Accelerator. In the beginning, we secured a seed round of $350K in 2016, with Powerhouse Ventures leading the investment and contributions from renowned angels like, Phanindra Sama and Anand Chandrasekaran.

In 2020, we reached a significant milestone by raising a Series A investment of $4.3Mn. This funding round was supported by notable investors, including BITKRAFT Ventures and Velo Partners. BITKRAFT Ventures stands as the world’s largest esports fund and also co-manages the publicly-traded Roundhill BITKRAFT Esports Index (NYSE: NERD).

How do you compare with your competitors in the space?

There are two things that set us apart from our competitors. First, we are not a game development studio, so we don’t create games ourselves. Instead, we license games from top developers around the world. Secondly, our games are built on HTML5 and don’t require installation; they can be played instantly, much like watching a video.

Gamezop’s uniqueness lies in its unconventional approach to user acquisition. Instead of promoting game app installations, our Gamezop game center is seamlessly integrated into non-gaming apps and websites, enabling their users to play games instantly. This approach allows Gamezop to organically reach users without the need for costly user acquisition campaigns.

As the leading aggregator of HTML5 games, we have distribution partnerships with over 7,000 products, including Paytm, Amazon, Times of India, ixigo, and Samsung Internet. Through these distribution partnerships we reach over 45 million users per month, who enjoy playing our games.

Apart from advertisements, are you planning to generate revenue through other sources too?

In addition to our focus on running ad campaigns, we’ve diversified our revenue streams through various strategic avenues. One of these avenues involves licensing individual games to other publishers, offering them the opportunity to feature these games within their platforms in exchange for a fee. This arrangement benefits both parties—the publishers gain access to high-quality games that enhance their content offerings, while Gamezop generates revenue from these licensing agreements.

Which are the most popular games or gaming genre and ad formats?

Gamezop functions as a diverse game center, with a collection of over 350 games that captivate 45 million users each month. Given the substantial number of games and users within our platform, different games are popular within different parts of the world. We have six categories of games in our game center: Puzzle & Logic, Adventure, Arcade, Action, Sports & Racing, and Strategy.

At the core of our monetization strategy is ensuring top-notch user experience. Our ads are non-intrusive and respect users’ privacy. Ad formats that we use include native advertising, video advertising, interstitials, and display advertising.

Let us talk about the online casual gaming space on the whole. It has been observed that the number of female gamers is on the rise. How do you see it growing in the next couple of years?

Absolutely, the presence of female gamers within the gaming community is indeed experiencing remarkable growth. The conventional notion that gaming is primarily a male-dominated activity is rapidly fading away. The reality is that women gamers are making substantial strides and now constitute nearly half of the global gaming population. This shift challenges outdated stereotypes and underscores the inclusive nature of the gaming world.

An analysis of user demographics within Gamezop reinforces this trend. Over the last four years, more than 40% of the 1 billion users who engaged with games on the Gamezop platform were women. This not only signifies an important representation but also highlights the extent to which women are actively participating.

In essence, the rise of female gamers is reshaping the gaming landscape and extending its impact into the broader cultural and consumer landscape. The next few years are likely to witness a continued surge in their numbers, with brands and businesses recognizing the incredible value they bring not only as gamers but as influential consumers and advocates.

There is also another aspect to gaming – addiction – which gives it a bad reputation. As a gaming company do you conduct any programs or campaigns to address it?

While gaming provides countless opportunities for entertainment and engagement, we are acutely aware of the potential risks associated with excessive gameplay. To foster a healthy gaming environment, we believe that education is key to addressing addiction concerns. As part of our comprehensive approach, we are in the process of developing awareness campaigns that highlight the signs of gaming addiction and provide practical tips on maintaining a healthy gaming routine. By equipping players with information, we empower them to make informed choices and recognize when their gameplay habits may be becoming problematic.

We actively engage in discussions about responsible gaming practices within industry forums, conferences, and collaborations with experts. By participating in these conversations, we contribute to the collective effort to promote healthy gaming habits and prevent addiction.

It’s worth emphasizing that our dedication to responsible gaming is an ongoing journey. While we have made strides in this direction, we recognize that there is always room to do more. We remain receptive to feedback from our users and the broader community, and we are committed to evolving our strategies to align with the evolving landscape of gaming and addiction prevention.

What is next for Gamezop? Can you share details of what’s in the pipeline? 

Gamezop has two clear goals ahead of itself: geographic expansion and product expansion.

With Gamezop’s inherently scalable model of leveraging the footprint of other apps and websites to distribute games, the company is working towards expanding its base of distribution partners in large markets around the world.

Games are the only form of content where the language doesn’t matter, and non-gaming apps and websites around the world have responded positively to adding a game center, growing user engagement and revenue.

Gamezop’s strength lies in the extensive distribution network it has built through its partners. Eventually, this network can be utilized to publish content beyond gaming. One recent product the company launched is Quizzop, which allows apps and websites to incorporate a quizzing section for their users. The company has other products (Newszop – for news content and Astrozop – for astrology-related content), in addition to Gamezop and Quizzop, to provide its distribution partners more content verticals to choose from.