Story of Biggest Game Hosting platform Gamezop

Gamezop Co Founder Gaurav Agarwal full interview

Gamezop is a multi-game platform that apps can integrate to add a gaming section for their users. Over 4,500 products from more than 60 countries have partnered with Gamezop. These partners include Amazon, MX Player, Paytm, Samsung Internet, Tata Play, and Airtel Thanks. More than 45 million users from across the world engage with Gamezop every month via one of their partners.

We had opportunity to talk to with Cofounder of Gamezop Gaurav Agarwal. Let’s deep dive into the conversation.

Founder Talks – How has been the progress of Gamezop?

Gaurav Agarwal– Gamezop is a six year old company. You can imagine that you’ve gone through several ups and downs, right? The journey of the company is rather linear one. I think the last few years have been very successful for us, given the fact that we expanded our reach both in terms of from who were we acquiring games. Earlier in our journey, we tried to make some of the games that are games of ourselves. But over a period of time, we started to source content from studios worldwide. And that helped us a lot, because that meant that we have a lot of studios around the world now creating content for us.

And we don’t have to do everything by ourselves. So that kind of helped us a lot. And if I was to tell you a little bit about the business model of Gamezop, unlike the other gaming companies that you may have heard of or spoken to; Gamezop is different in two ways.

First is, now we don’t make these games ourselves. Gamezop is not a game development company, We are not a studio. Most of the gaming companies that you hear of are gaming studios, which means they make their own games. We don’t do that. We buy content from other gaming. And the second way in which we are different is unlike other gaming companies, we don’t spend money to acquire users.

If there’s a gaming studio and they make a game, they have to spend money to acquire users also. But in our case, what we do is instead of posing ourselves as a B2C product or a product that is targeted. To the end user, we Power games or we facilitate gaming inside non gaming products. What that means is let’s say if you were to open the times of India application. Let’s say if you were to open the Sony Liv application, Or let’s say if you were to open the Samsung internet application, all three very different applications, all three have different purposes. You’ll see that across all of these applications, there is a gaming section which is powered by us. 

I see that section in Amazon as well. 

Gaurav– Exactly. You see that gaming section in Amazon as well. Right. So that is also powered by us. If you tap on any game, you will see that, these games before they launch, it says powered by Gamezop

So what we try to do here is, instead of us being like any other gaming company, which is making games and then spending money to acquire users. We thought on one hand we should source content from a large community of game developers around the world. Polish, these Gamezop, so that they are fit for consumption in any part of the world. And then as a third step, instead of, like I said, acquiring users directly, we partner with these products. Amazon include. So that our product can sit inside their product and some of their users become our users are playing games.

Yes, definitely. This is a good thing which can be helpful for engagement for other apps as well.

Gaurav– Exactly. Right. So there are two things. First is when our games sit inside, anybody else’s. Like you rightly identified, it increases engagement within their product, right? Because the games still work inside the app or inside their website.

It’s not like somebody has to exit their application, then play a game, then go back to that, their product, it doesn’t work like that. Right. It’s like how you read a news article on Facebook or on Twitter, right? The news article very much opens inside Facebook or inside Twitter. Right. And when you press the back button, you are back to the, main homepage of Facebook app or Twitter app as the case may be.

That is exactly what we do with these guys. That’s our value proposition is our game should work within their product and improve engagement for them. The second thing is our games have some advertisements within them. If you’re playing a game from time to time, you will see some ads appearing inside the games. Whatever money we make from these ads, 50% of that we share back with our partners. 

So let’s say if Times of India is sending us users. By serving them ads if we make 1 Cr then at the end of the month, we give 50 lakhs back to TOI. Not only are we driving engagement, but also we open a new stream of revenue or distribution channels.

How do you take care of the advertisement? Do you do it through Google or you to have your own platform built for it? 

That’s a very interesting question. Previously we used to work only with ad networks and Google is one ad network, right? There are other ad networks also. Yes, there is pubmatic, there is index exchange, there is open X, and a lot of the others. But what started to happen, Volume has increased quite significantly. Every month we serve upwards of 300, 350 million ad impressions. That’s a pretty significant number. That’s about 30-35 crore ad impressions every month.

So we have to do a combination of all. We have to use networks like Google; bidding technology like header bidding, Amazon has a product called Amazon publisher services and we also do direct ad sales.

We have to use a combination of all methods out there to fill the ad inventory that we can offer to advertisers.

How you started Gaurav, what was the idea behind starting Gemezop?

So the funny part is that as a child growing up I never played games. I thought I’m much better of playing volleyball in the sun or playing cricket in a standard gully of India with the ball going into the drain several times.

I was doing all of that but I think the reason we thought of looking at gaming or I looked at gaming was because my younger brother was very enthusiastic about games. Gamezop was founded by my younger brother. I joined later.

Back then I was working at a consulting firm called Bain and Company. And at Bain, we were analyzing user trends and we were doing a lot of macro analysis of content consumption. So my brother had some experience in working at gaming. He was still in college, but he had started a company that was making games.

And I realized that look, I don’t know much about making games, but what I can see is that content consumption is going to go through a boom. This was in 2016-2017, when internet wasn’t as fast as it used to be but everybody knew that it’s going to become fast. Everybody knew that data is going to be cheap.

So it was then with his creativity and the little bit of business sense that I had, We could figure out that if we get good content and if we put the content behind a mass channel of distributors like TOI, Amazon. Like TOI and Amazon today, we have 5,000 products on which Gamezop is live.

We thought if we are able to get good content and, send the content flying off the shelves using distribution channels, then probably there’s a business case to be made here. 

Now six years down the line, what we realized is that a lot of the assumptions we made were really wrong and every single change you try and make in the digital ecosystem. It’s very tough. We are blessed to have a great team who really made our lives much easier. And with their help now, not only do we have Gamezop, but we also have Quizzop. So just like Gamezop powers games within third party products, including the ones that we mentioned,Quizzop powers quizzes within these products. Quizzop is also ad monetized.

Quizzop revenue also, we share with our partners. Now what we have realized is that we have such a large channel of these distribution partners situated all around the world. We signed these distribution partners partnerships in about 70 countries. Now not only do we have to stay put to gaming and quizzing, but we can also get into other content forms because the distribution is already there. The partnerships are already there. 

So that doesn’t mean that if we make bad content or source bad content, it’ll be successful, but it reduces the chances of failure. And it means that we can leverage our existing distribution to have more products also.

That is probably the future for this company to get into more content forms on one side and to continually expand the distribution partnerships we have on the other side. And then, you know, we could, we could hopefully become a decently large content distribution company.

Who are the co-founders along with you?

My younger brother is our CEO. His name is Yashash Agarwal. He’s also five years younger than I am. He started the company when he was 18 years old. He looks at all the product related things that we do at Gamezop. I look at the business, the marketing side, of course.

Are you sourcing games 100% from game developers or you are building some products in house as well

There are two things there. So one is the content itself, which in this case is the game. And the second is the infrastructure to deliver the content. Gamezop now has close to 50 engineers who are working on that delivery aspect of the content. Let me give you an example, If you use Netflix or Amazon prime or anything, Netflix may have hundreds of folks working for them to produce content, right. They may have outsourced given budgets for a lot of producers but Netflix, the platform also needs to exist. Right?

Like the movies, there are the web series and all the other stuff that you see there. Just the placeholders, but the platform also needs to be robust. For example, going through Amazon or Netflix, you need to be recommended content that you might like to see.

As we understand, your team is working on the Gamezop platform more optimized and more user friendly. And you are sourcing the games from the game developers. You are promoting and doing all the marketing, research and optimization according to the metrics that you have of the users.

Yes, exactly.

What are your future plans for Gamezop?

We feel that we are very blessed that we are amongst one of those companies that have seen a good product market fit and I always think that companies should be profitable. We don’t believe much in the concept of Startups coming and raising capital and then trying to see, okay. if it works, it works, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. 

I think capital is very expensive. Money is hard earned, if not by you, by somebody else. So we’ve run our business very profitably,  of the last six years that we’ve been in existence. For five years, we’ve closed our books profitably.

Our plans going forward, like I told you, have us thinking around getting into more content forms. So in addition to games and quizzes, can we get into short videos, news? Can we get into weather, can we get into, you know, live cricket scores or live scores for all games? These are the kind of things that we wanna do.

Our vision is to create a suite of products that third party apps and websites can use as a button within them. One button for games, one button for quiz, one button for news or short videos, etc. So that we can truly democratize content. If the developer is building a file sharing application or a video editing application and that developer wants to add news within their product. They should be able to do so in 30 minutes.

Our vision to really create a suite of products across various content forms that app developers and website developers can use. But at the heart of everything that we want to do, we want to continue to remain profitable. None of the plans we make at Gamezop are devoid of our plans to our quest to remain profitable.

That is the cornerstone of how we do business. And that’s the only way, honestly, we know how to do business. If somebody else to tell us that. Okay, fine. For two just Try and grow, you know, try and get more users or try and get more publishers. And it’s okay if you know, you are not profitable. Chances are, that person and Gamezop will not have a very easy relationship. Our conversations will become uneasy very fast.

We understand just one way of doing business which is a profitable way of doing business. Things that come within the ambit of profitability of which continue to make us profitable are things that we will continue to look at. 

What is the process of associating with Gamezop?

Game developers are a very small community.  Initially it was tough for us because we had to create some noise around Gamezop being a company that buys games.But now I think, a lot of the game developers around the world know about Gamezop. They keep writing to us. 

We have a dedicated team of individuals who are looking at their content, looking to improve our content sourcing portfolio. Even if you don’t take a game, we make it a point to give them feedback. So that next time if they make a good game, we could possibly take it from them. Or if they want to improve the current game, then we could take it from them. So that’s, that’s one part. 

The other part is association by publishers like app developers and website developers. Any app developer or website developer can very easily go sign up, send a request that they want to add content, add games of content or of content within their product.

What we then do, it’s very important for us to screen any product we work with. Like they shouldn’t ideally have objectionable content. They should have content, which is suitable for all ages. As long as they have that, we facilitate the integration. It’s quite a simple integration

So it doesn’t matter the number of users, the visitors on the website, but more importantly, you will give access if they are providing some value or valuable content on their website.

Yeah, and that is by design. It sometimes makes our lives difficult. If there’s a new application or a website that wants to take our content, we do not discriminate on the basis of how many users an app has, or how many users a website has. We realized that, at a point in time, we were also a very small company, We still are, but we were a smaller company when we started. And at that point in time, we got rejections from a lot of people. Sometimes when we went to a bank to open a current account, they said, no, no, you don’t have enough employees or you don’t have enough capital.

We don’t know. So we can’t do it. or when we went to a chartered accountant to do bookkeeping for us, they said “no, no, no, we can’t do it”. You know, come back next year. So it was then that my younger brother and I decided that look businesses shouldn’t get discriminated against based on the fact that they’re small today.

Companies may be small today, but some of these companies will become large tomorrow. Right. And hopefully they’ll remember that when we were starting, there was a company called Gamezop that still wanted to associate with us. So we take pride in the fact that, any company, any app developer or website developer, as long as they do not have objectionable content and as long as their content is suitable for all age groups is free to work with us and we’ll be happy to facilitate those partners. 

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