The now-postponed 2022 Asian Games are expected to have a significant impact on the Indian and South Asian esports scene as it stands today. While the industry has exploded in revenue and community participation over the past two years, making a profession out of it is still looked down upon and esports is not seen in the same way as some of the other mainstream sporting events.
With its final addition as a medal-winning event at the upcoming ASIAD, perceptions surrounding esports are set to change in the region.
In an interview with Abhishek Mallick of Sportskeeda Esports, Vijay Venkateswaran, co-founder of Wings Lifestyle, talks about the impact the Games will have on the region’s esports market, the importance of reliable gaming peripherals, partnership with NODWIN Gaming, and more.
Here is an excerpt from the conversation.
Vijay Venkateswaran on the 2022 Asian Games and the Indian esports market
Q. Tell our readers a bit about your journey in the world of video games and esports, what was your early career like and what led to the creation of Wings Lifestyle?
Vijay: We both [Vijay Venkateswaran and co-founder Nishit Sharma] were gamers in college who played CS:GO and loved the entertainment aspect of it, even though we didn’t pursue it professionally. With Wings, we noticed an explosion in the mobile space and felt the time was right to create a gaming brand focused on mobile gamers – the cause of the explosion in this market.
Q. Tell us about the growing demand for reliable, quality peripherals in the video game and esports industry. Whether it’s gaming headsets, mice, or mechanical keyboards, what’s their value when it comes to helping gamers get the most out of their skills and the title they’re investing their time in? ?
Vijay: The peripherals market in India is clearly split into two buckets – the first being the high end international brands which have inflated prices and are far too expensive for an aspiring Indian gamer from a middle class family or gamers Tier II/III cities.
The second bucket [includes] poor quality unbranded white labels that just can’t provide even a basic gaming experience. Wings aims to deliver premium yet affordable peripherals with a style quotient to match the aspirations of the modern Indian millennial gamer. We will also soon be releasing a Pro Series to meet the needs of professional gamers.
Q. What do you think of the Indian gaming and esports scene as it looks today? Where do you see him in the next five years?
Vijay: The obvious reason for this explosion in the esports industry has been the advent of mobile gaming. It has democratized the game to such a basic level that anyone with even a basic mobile smartphone can aspire to start playing – much like cricket and street football.
It is in these areas that our best cricketers or global soccer superstars emerge, and I see esports being no different. This penetration of mobile adoption, coupled with a burgeoning digital Gen Z population, makes us firmly believe that in the next five years, esports can become bigger than cricket in India.
Q. With the 2022 Asian Games adding esports as a medal event, what impact do you think the competition will have on the Indian gaming market? Will it finally be considered as important as any other traditional sporting event?
Vijay: Yes. Absolutely, and it’s one of the core values that Wings stands for, that we support and motivate young people to take up esports as a career without worrying about societal biases. With the 2022 Asian Games and government support, we are confident that India can be a global esports giant, just like we are in cricket.
Q. NODWIN Gaming recently became a partner and one of the investors in Wings Lifestyle. Tell us a bit about the vision behind this decision and some of the expectations that both parties will have in this regard.
Vijay: Frankly, looking back, it was obvious. The visions of NODWIN and Wings have always been aligned when it comes to our core beliefs. We both believe that esports is not a niche and deserves a wider audience.
Gamers are not geeks; on the contrary, they are exactly like athletes with the same marketability as cricketers and footballers. Gaming and streaming are real career options and we want to help young people get started.
With these core beliefs aligned, bringing content (NODWIN) and D2C Commerce (Wings) together, this partnership will greatly benefit both stakeholders as well as the gaming community as a whole.
Q. What are the future plans with this partnership? What can users expect in the coming months?
Vijay: Wings will mix gaming accessories with pop culture – whether through limited-edition designer headphones or collaborations with athletes under the NODWIN umbrella. With our pro range also due to launch later this year, our products will be incorporated into NODWIN tournaments.
We will also participate in offline events like the NH7 weekend with interesting gamification activities that have never been done before at such events.
Q. Tell us a bit about the plan to roll out a custom series of gaming headphones themed around popular Indian tropes as well as popular titles in the region?
Vijay: We believe fans connect with esports teams and want to be part of the experience. What better way to make that connection than owning a commodity? While currently esports teams have jerseys, gaming headphones, on the other hand, are something much more dear to their hearts. Our goal is to create custom designs for esports team members as well as their fans.
Q. In terms of product diversity, how is Wings Lifestyle looking to expand its inventory, and not just for the domestic market, but also internationally?
Vijay: First, we will be a global gaming peripherals brand with products for mobile and PC gaming. This will include headphones and neckbands for mobiles, as well as headphones, keyboards, mice and gamepads for PC.
From a distribution perspective, we will be focusing on India for at least the next 12 months, as the opportunity is just too great here. So we want to capitalize on that first. International expansions are certainly part of the plan, but other global markets will require a different product and pricing strategy.