NODWIN Gaming is India’s biggest esports company, responsible for holding multiple championships, and producing content that targets gamers across the country. While the company firmly believes in the power of esports, there has been a rising debate over whether games of skill and real money gaming belong to the same group as traditional esports in India. While the simple answer from us and NODWIN is ‘No, it doesn’t’, many companies will have you believe they’re all part of the same ecosystem.
One of these is Nazara, coincidentally the parent company that owns NODWIN. Nazara’s journey with real money gaming has been well documented in the past, which has been primarily focused outside of India. However, in recent years, many companies masquerading as Esports and gaming companies, have pushed for games of skill in India in the name of Esports.
“Yes, we hate them doing it. We absolutely disagree with it. They might be our parents and they have no say in operations of NODWIN at all”, Akshat Rathee, co-founder of NODWIN Gaming, tells me regarding the issue.
“We believe real-money gaming in India is a regulatory black-hole. Gambling even more so. We believe #EsportsDoesntDeserveAnyGambling. We are not skill-based gaming, we are a sport. We are a sport because the physicality of responses of our participants leads to the result of a winner. And esports is fundamentally a speed competition.”
It’s at this point that I asked him whether he agrees with real-money gaming existing alongside esports in a country where both are getting attention at a rapid pace.
“I’m absolutely fine with real-money gaming.As long as people say- 2 people playing Candy Crush for Rs 10 against each other is ‘competitive gaming’ I have no problem. They’re not esports.”
Akshat then goes on to explain the fundamental differences between the business model of esports and real-money.
“The business model of esports is the money you make from sponsorships, media rights, and from franchising. That’s where you make money. What is the business model of a brokerage? The business model of a brokerage is – making small amounts of commissions from the transfer of wealth from losers to winners.”
This poses a clear conflict of interest between NODWIN Gaming and Nazara. While Nazara hasn’t entered the Indian market with RMG (real-money gaming) and game of skill yet, there has been concern expressed throughout the industry that it might soon. Considering how there is a lack of a regulatory body for governing real-money gaming (in simple terms-gambling), many well-known companies have entered the space in India marketing themselves & their products as ‘games’ or ‘esports’.
“We’re gonna oppose it. You can quote me on it. If Nazara goes and brings skill-based gaming in India – NODWIN does not stand for gambling in esports. We’re too young! I mean, why? Our Government is anyway saying that ‘Gaming eats your brain’ or something. And then you want to go ahead and give them more fodder by saying ‘Isme toh gambling bhi hai’ (there’s also gambling involved in this).”
On the topic of gambling and Esports getting bundled together, he added the following:
“I understand – it’s not they are who are doing it, it’s other venture capitalists who are putting money behind those RMG companies, and those companies to get away from regulation call themselves ‘esports’. But that’s wrong. They are not esports. They’re just competitive gaming, and we are ok with it. Worldwide we have a common definition of esports. Only in India, some people are like ‘no but this is esports’ (referring to Real money gaming and games of skill).”
You can learn more about NODWIN Gaming’s thoughts on a variety of topics like cloud gaming and more in our full interview here.