Online gaming companies are on a hiring spree as the surging popularity of mobile games during the pandemic has prompted them to develop new and more engaging content.

“As more and more people turn to gaming, addressing this growing demographic of gamers and enhancing user engagement will require great content, engaging experiences, a robust infrastructure and a deep understanding of emerging technologies to stay ahead of the curve,” said Naman Jhawar, senior vice-president, strategy and operations, at online gaming platform Mobile Premier League (MPL).

Dream Sports more than doubled the total number of people it employed in 2020, said the sports technology company that runs popular fantasy sports platform Dream11. The company went from just around 250 employees at the beginning of 2020 to more than 500. It has hired more than 100 employees in the first six months of 2021 and plans to hire an additional 200 in the next 12 months.

Online gaming platform Octro also said it had expanded its teams in 2020.

MPL had increased its staff fourfold in 2020 and has more than 800 employees approximately in its offices across Bengaluru, Jakarta, Singapore and Pune, Jhawar said. The company plans to increase its teams by 50% in 2021.

Gaming firms in India have largely been known to run small operations but are now hiring people in data science, engineering and other spheres. “Octro has been very focused on tech, engineering and data maturity since the launch of Octro TeenPatti,” said Manav Sethi, chief marketing officer, Octro. “This year, we want to expand the core team across product, engineering and data.”

Dream Sports said it plans to fill roles in “product strategy, analytics, front-end, data science and security”. MPL wants to hire individuals specializing in “coding and designing to marketing, sales and operations”.

Investments in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are expected to be drivers for India’s gaming industry. “Like any digital business, the understanding of consumer behaviour in terms of what a consumer prefers in terms of content, consumption patterns, triggers for in-app purchases and game-switching behaviour is critical for game design and pricing decisions,” said a June report by KPMG.

The report also pegged India’s gaming sector’s value at 13,600 crore after 2020, having grown by more than 100 million users. The industry recorded 433 million users in FY21, compared to 300 million users in FY20.

The boom in hiring developers, designers and others has also created new opportunities for gig workers.

Gaming studios, which have seen increased tie-ups with global game publishers, are scurrying to hire new talent to develop more games. Independent studios develop in-house games and pitch them to global game publishers, hoping that they will run those games under their banners.

An example of this is Jetsynthesys, which partnered with Japanese gaming giant Square Enix to develop a game called Ludo Zenith earlier this year.

Smaller gaming studios have also struck such deals. Vaibhav Chavan, CEO of Mumbai-based Underdogs Studios, said multiple studios vying for attention from global gaming giants means they need to develop more games to showcase to them. As a result, many reach out to freelancers while also ramping up their teams by hiring more programmers and designers.

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