As the global pandemic continues, one big trend of the year has been the huge boom in the popularity of gaming. With people stuck at home due to restrictions, gaming has been something of a refuge for many, also providing new opportunities for those in the Gametech sector
Ahmed F. Karslı is the founder and CEO of Papara, a Turkish financial SuperApp offering instant, free, multi-currency transfers to consumers as well as providing a one-stop-shop for paying bills, trading digital currencies and tracking spending habits. Targeting the underbanked and underserved, Papara has grown since launching in Tukey in 2016 to become Turkey’s largest fintech company with a current customer base of over six million registered users.
Here Ahmed shares his thoughts on gaming’s current rise in popularity and what that means for Papara.
Ahmed F. Karslı, Founder and CEO of Papara
During the pandemic induced periods of lockdown and home isolation, we witnessed a worldwide turn towards home entertainment, specifically gaming and eSports. In the last quarter of 2020, online gaming viewership increased by 79% from the previous year. Breaking this down by platform, the number of hours watched on YouTube Gaming doubled in 2020 compared to 2019, and for the same time period, tripled on Facebook Gaming.
It’s a trend that’s reflected in our spending data, where the team has seen a steady but strong 194% rise in the number of gaming transactions in the past year, the highest of any category. Likewise, the amount of money spent on gaming also rose by a huge 289%. The most critical shift that has been driving this growth has been the expanding demographic of gamers. Gaming is no longer considered something just for ‘computer geeks’ – rather it’s something that now defies age, gender or status.
Whilst this escalation in gaming popularity has undoubtedly been exacerbated by Covid-19, it’s not something that was entirely unexpected, the signs were there from early on that this would be an industry to keep an eye on. Since its inception, the customer segment of Papara users that identify as gamers has had the highest engagement of all categories, and campaigns targeting gamers have always tended to be the most successful at acquiring and converting customers. Anticipating the growth in demand for gaming services, we have focused on integrating with gamers and adapting to their various needs, interests and behaviours. Gaming users and the industry have always valued innovation and they are the most active members of our community page, where users share their ideas and feedback about our app and service.
Given their high engagement, we’ve catered our product towards these users in several ways. This includes a product strategy that centres around developing new features we know this market may be interested in, designing special cards for them, and sponsoring eSports team Papara Supermassive, the most successful Turkish eSports team.
Here are some additional details on exactly what we’ve done to cater to this audience:
- App development: We launched the third version of the Papara app last year, developed with new features that allow gamers to easily purchase game licenses, digital items and top up their gaming wallets.
- Branded cards: As the dedicated sponsor of the championship-winning Papara Supermassive League of Legends eSports team, we’ve designed and are planning to produce a limited number of branded cards – matte black with a hologram of the team mascot, an owl. This is in response to numerous requests from our users and Papara Supermassive fans. The card will serve as a pilot project for testing engagement in the lead up to offering a future subscription plan for gamers, alongside new plans and deals.
- Cashback opportunities: To reward our users, we plan to offer cashback at the Supermassive merchandise store, including additional cashback on certain payments. Certain products are also exclusively available for Papara users; in fact, there are currently 200 people on the waitlist to purchase the special design jerseys.
Pandemic or not, the gaming trend is here to stay – whether on the computer, game console, mobile or VR platform. Looking ahead, we’ll continue to actively engage with this ever-growing user segment, and tailor our product set accordingly, keeping pace with the rapid developments and trends such as tokenisation. We’ll also maintain our sponsorship deal with the Supermassive League of Legends team, expressing our support for, and commitment to improving the industry, something that is very important to eSports fans.
Our efforts to accommodate gamers have paid off – we’ve achieved higher visibility and engagement from the gamer segment, as well as an enhanced reputation in the space. This has led to organic growth through word of mouth between the gamers, helping us to become the most loved app in the market, supported by loyal customers.
The Papara Supermassive branded card is just the first step in a host of ambitious future plans catering to the needs of gamers, including expansion into different game verticals. There are plenty of successful eSports teams in different game verticals including Valorant, PubG Mobile, Fifa, CSGO, Fortnite and F1.
The current sports landscape is entirely focused on the pros. Top players, top teams, big tournaments, major events. This is not representative of our audience – from the very start, Papara has aimed to be inclusive, and represent those underbanked and underserved. This is why we value eSports – the gap between the players and the audience is much smaller than with traditional sports. Every gamer uses similar equipment, and gamers lead comparable lifestyles. They play the same games, with little to no difference in the rules and field of play. The one issue the eSports industry still faces is a lack of foundation and infrastructure. We are committed to helping bridge this gap through driving increasing awareness, as well as investment into the space – for example through sponsorship deals. This will pave the pay for a successful future for a thriving industry.