Nvidia-Certified eSports Cafes in India: Sneak Peek into Gamers’ Paradise – Exclusive Interview

By Vinod Yalburgi , Sep 16, 2017 07:10 AM EDT

India is currently one of the fastest developing countries with a huge untapped potential for PC gaming on the global stage. The advent of 4K resolution displays and advanced Virtual Reality technologies has paved the way for the emerging Electronic Sports aka 'eSports' Gaming Cafes across the world including India and China.

The eSports user base is currently estimated to have reached 100 million gamers across the world, owing to huge fan following and audience for this new brand of entertainment that's powered by Facebook, Twitch and YouTube with support from 600 million subscribers worldwide.  

Amazon-owned Twitch now boasts a 100 million user base with an estimated business worth $1 Billion. With India boasting an ever-growing population size of 1.2 billion and coupled with the advantage of having its 65% of the population aged below 35, the sub-continent is indeed the hub of gaming revolution.

According to a recent CII report on 'Emerging trends in India Gaming Industry', the country's gaming market size brings immense profitability and value to eSports platform. This is especially true as the report confirms that over 35 million people are currently involved in discussions about PC gaming or console gaming or eSports on social media.

Furthermore, the research on emerging gaming trends in India has concluded that the growth of gaming market in the country is influenced by three major factors: Smartphones, Internet Penetration and Social Media.

Currently, India has 35 million interested PC gamers and 240 million mobile gamers which can potentially set the eSports stage on fire. To capitalize on this untapped gaming potential in India, Nvidia has tied up with Acro and PrinTree to help establish eSports Gaming Cafes in the country.

The idea of eSports Cafes is indeed Nvidia's brain child, which has been inspired by the exploits of highly-talented Indo-American professional gamer by name 'Saahil Arora'. Known by the gamer tag 'UNiVeRsE' and as part of the team called 'Evil Genius', he is currently the highest paid professional gamer in the world with his cumulative earnings from tournament prizes going up to 2.7 Million USD.

Riding on its success with eSports outlets in China, Nvidia has now set its sight on the sub-continent owing to the lucrative business opportunities for the eSports Cafes and tournament organizers, besides a potential gaming career for the aspiring youth of India.

India is currently limited to just around 300 Gaming Cafes with 15 million professional PC gamers waiting for a suitable opportunity to participate or catch up with all the action in the eSports events. On the other hand, China boasts around 1, 60,000 eSports Gaming Cafes with an estimated 60 million professional PC gamers.

eSports has already surpassed Wimbledon in terms of viewership as well as the large sums of prize money at stake for the tournament winners. The Wimbledon Champion will earn around $2.75 million prize money for the herculean effort while his counterpart from eSports tournament will win around $9.13 million prize money for finishing all the games or challenges on top position throughout the tournament.

An insight into the eSports business as gleaned from an exclusive interview with Vamsi Krishna, Head of Consumer Marketing (South Asia) at Nvidia brings forth some key highlights:

Nvidia has published a business guide to start eSports Cafes in India which goes by the title 'eSports Cafes in India: The Untapped Potential'.

It has all the answers for budding entrepreneurs who wish to set up Gaming Cafes in the country, including details of investment to be made, types of business models, licenses required to run the business and space requirements.

RIG ESports and League of Extraordinary Gamers (LXG) are two such eSports Gaming Cafes located in Bangalore (India), which are exclusively certified by Nvidia after running some quality checks and verification of prerequisites for the business. RIG ESports is situated at Koramangala (60 feet road) while LXG is located at Indiranagar.

All Nvidia certified eSports outlets will carry the logo 'GEFORCE GTX Gaming Center Platinum' etched on the side walls. It is the promise of assurance to gamers that the eSports outlet meets their expectations and will deliver a satisfactory experience to the gamers in terms of ambience, gameplay experience, and other in-house facilities like eateries and beverages.

Basically, the eSports Cafes cater to three categories of gamers: Casual Gamers, Enthusiast Gamers and ESports Gamers.

Casual Gamers barely spends one to two hours a day in the gaming café as part of their leisurely entertainment schedule. These are entry-level users who would love to get something extra with special offers like free game time.

Enthusiast Gamers spend around two to three hours a day in the gaming café and often love the idea of exploring latest AAA games on high-end rigs that they cannot afford to buy. These gamers love quality gaming experience more than anything else.

Finally, ESports Gamers (mostly in the age group of 18 to 24) would love to participate in community events and global tournaments. These are the most socially-engaging group of people who bring their friends together and participate in professional gaming events like DOTA 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and Call of Duty, among others.

Rental Prices for Gaming PCs in Cafes

Keeping the various categories of gamers in mind, the Nvidia recommended pricing for eSports Cafes are as follows:

The entry-level gaming PC costs around Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 per hour, mid-range is priced at Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 per hour while the premium gaming PC costs around Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 per hour.

However, the existing rates of the eSports cafes are as follows: Entry-Gaming PC - Rs. 80/hour, Mid-range Gaming PC - Rs. 100/hour and Premium PC - Rs. 120/hour.

Talking about the evolving PC gaming industry across the world, here is what Vamsi had to say:

"Gaming in China is massive. Gaming in Korea is insane. World class gamers come from Korea and they have their own dedicated TV channels telecasting these games 24x7. Such a facility is non-existent in India."

"In the last few years, there has been a significant revolution in mobile gaming for India, thanks to the smartphone penetration in the country. Users as young as six year old to 60+ have been using mobile phones as a past time. This resulted in a cultural shift into the world of gaming as both parents and children started actively engaging in mobile games."

"Second phenomenon that happened in the country is Social Media. India has the largest social media user base with 220 million active users on a monthly basis on Facebook. Indians by nature are curiosity driven and this led to the aspiring youngsters to become gamers through influence driven by social media circles."

"Gaming started booming big time in India and that's when Nvidia took the pivotal role to grow the gaming industry further. After China, India is the next big opportunity for the growth of gaming industry with around 1.3 billion population."

"Favorable conditions with mobile gaming, social media, and the booming national economy have been pivotal factors in Nvidia's decision to market eSports Gaming Cafes in the country. Henceforth, Nvidia is putting in a massive effort to make India a big gaming destination."

Nvidia's Strategy for Building Gaming Cafes

Nvidia is adopting two new strategies for this purpose - building the community with influential people and popular gamers across the world and assembling them at the world class eSports Gaming Cafes. Consequently, budding gamers get inspired to become professionally trained by communicating and engaging with these veterans.

Nvidia also engages in live-streaming new gameplay content (walkthroughs and previews) for latest AAA titles like Destiny 2 and they have accomplished great fan support in the process. Nvidia is also actively launching events like Gamer Connect wherein several brands like Dell, LG, Hyper X and Zotac came together for creating a big gaming showcase event in five big cities across India this year.

Such an event kicks off in a massive property set within an imposing space of 10,000 square feet. Around 2,000 gamers across the city are invited to experience the best hardware that will be displayed at the venue.

Espresso Driver Technology

Nvidia has implemented the specially optimized Espresso driver technology for all its gaming rigs installed at several certified cafes in China. This technology ensures up to 60% power savings on the graphics cards and also enables cafes with lack of enough storage to run the lighter versions of the drivers to save hard drive space.

However, in order to gain the benefits of the Espresso technology, it is necessary to own a gaming café that can house at least 50 to 100 computers. It does not make much difference in a smaller café with just around 20 to 30 gaming machines.

All the cafes in the country are currently using the WHQL certified regular drivers only as Espresso drivers were specifically designed for Chinese cafes, which run on a thin platform without any locally mounted storage disks on their servers.

The catch here is that China follows its own gaming titles (not so feature-rich or graphics heavy), while India mostly follows the western game titles that require feature-rich and heavy-weight drivers.  It is learnt that Espresso drivers are aimed at power savings while the normal drivers focus purely on performance.

Espresso driver works well in a client-server configuration while normal Nvidia drivers are more streamlined and optimized for individual terminals that are seen in local Gaming Cafes in India.

GeForce GTX 10 Series Powered Gaming Cafes

Nvidia is currently offering GeForce GTX 10 series graphics cards on all of its certified Gaming Cafes in India and foreign countries. The new GTX 10 series is powered by the Pascal architecture which ensures a good power to performance ratio and thereby prevents overheating issues or stability problems with the high-end gaming rigs installed at the cafes.

The other biggest advantage of Pascal architecture is that is scalable across all operating platforms including desktops and portables. So, you will experience the same performance on both the desktops and laptops with GTX 10 series cards installed on them.

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