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BW Businessworld

"India To Play A Big Part In Our Expansion": Riot Games' Alasdair Gray

"Hyper localization isn't just about giving our players in local countries experiences they will love. It's also about representing these local cultures on the global stage in ways our players can be proud of."

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Valorant was only launched in June 2020 and as of October 2022, it had 22.5 million gamers with somewhere between 700,000 and 2,000,000 active gamers at any given point in time.

Although there's a long way to go in order for Valorant to level with giants such as League of Legends, the most impressive thing about it is that the game constantly gets updates (recently launched Episode 6) with new streams of content and it is acing it as far as engagement is concerned. In a nutshell, it is consistent. Most importantly, Valorant is doing what most games tend to overlook. The game is adding value by providing personality-driven content. The recently introduced Indian-origin character 'Harbor' is a great example. 

It is also playing a significant part in the global esports scene. The franchise is projected to soon be valued at USD 1 billion. Given the popularity of the game in India and the thriving Indian esports community, Riot Games recently introduced an Indian character named 'Harbor'.

BW Businessworld had a conversation with the Head of Marketing - APAC of Riot Games, Alasdair Gray. The conversation comprised a few important questions about the rising popularity of Valorant in India and its future in the country.

Esports is said to be driving growth in India’s evolving gaming industry, however, it is still way behind RMGs and fantasy sports. What are your views on that?

Esports is growing strongly in India. For the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) 2022, we clocked over 60 million total hours watched compared to last year’s 46 million hours watched. We're confident that there's great potential for future growth, especially in India where fans are very engaged. We’re seeing that multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs), first-person shooters (FPS), fighting and real-time strategy games are some of the most popular game genres in India. Valorant, in particular, has grown significantly in popularity since its launch just over a couple of years ago.

We’re grateful for the Indian community’s passion for Valorant esports. There is a lot of home-grown talent here that deserve a chance to compete on a global stage.

What are your predictions for the Indian Esports industry in 2023?

We expect the appetite for and viewership of esports to continue growing in India. We are optimistic about Valorant esports. There is lots of local talent to tap into and fans here are incredibly passionate.  We recently announced our new Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) 2023 structure which includes long-term partnered teams that will compete in our International League. We have an Indian representative, Global Esports, that will stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the other best Valorant teams in the world.

Viewership for VCT is growing steadily around the world and we expect India to play a big part in that expansion, especially as we now have local representation at the international level! We look forward to tapping further into the Indian esports scene.

I would like to understand Riot’s strategy for expansion in the APAC region, including India.

Alasdair Gray, Head of Marketing – APAC, Riot Games

Building close relationships with players and local communities stay at the core of our mission of being player-focused. Hyperlocalization is a key component in this player-focused mission. We believe that we can connect better with our markets and players by respecting cultures and providing local initiatives that players can resonate with.

Expanding on this, hyper localization isn't just about giving our players in local countries experiences they will love. It's also about representing these local cultures on the global stage in ways our players can be proud of. So to better serve our players, we are in the process of setting up local offices around the region, including in the Philippines, Indonesia/Malaysia, Thailand, and India. Our goal is to provide our players with the most immersive and enriching gaming experiences both on and offline.

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