Head Digital Works

Game of Skill VS Game of Luck: Decoding Online Gaming!


Ever heard of the terms “game of skill” or “game of chance”? Normally, these phrases are used in social media advertisements for online games. While lottery games are purely based on one’s luck, online strategy games such as rummy require knowledge, practice and experience for winning.

Following is a conversation on the many aspects of online gaming as Gadget Times talks with Deepak Gullapalli, Founder & CEO, Head Digital Works. “There is a significant traction of new users willing to play real-money games coming in from Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns,” he said. He also shared how 5G networks can add to the immersive experience of mobile gaming. Let’s find out more!

1. What exactly is skill-based gaming and how is it different from games of chance?

There still exists ambiguity when it comes to differentiating between games of skill and games of chance. A game of skill requires an appropriate skill set to play and the outcome of the game does not depend on luck or chance. Players are required to devise proper strategies and level up with practice and experience. Other aspects like concentration, game knowledge and coordination also play a significant role in determining the success of a player in a skill-based game such as rummy. On the other hand, games of chance are based solely on luck. Despite one’s experience or skill, each player has the same shot at winning. This makes it easier to play games of chance as they don’t require any technical knowledge. Examples of such games are lottery or roulette.

2. Skilled-based online gaming is synonymous with online gambling. Do you agree?

Absolutely not! There is a stark difference between the two. The very definition of ‘skill’ differentiates it from gambling, which is based on luck/chance. Through continuous messaging and campaigns around the same, we have witnessed a significant perception change around skill-based gaming and gambling amongst our target group as well as the stakeholders in India. I am confident that there will be a clear distinction within the public sphere in the near future.
With the government’s most recent and progressive outlook for gaming announced as part of the Union Budget, we are sure that this will significantly contribute to changing the viewpoints of many. Deducting TDS on net winnings at the end of a financial year will catalyze the growth of this sunrise sector even further. Additionally, the decision to establish India’s first centre of excellence for online gaming in Shillong is itself a testament to GOI’s recognition of the growing sector in the country. Given the vast sea of opportunities that exist in the industry, public perception is set to change and will catalyze this growth even further in the coming years.

3. Brief us about Head Digital Works Pvt Ltd (HDW)

Founded in 2006, Head Digital Works Pvt Ltd is a skilled-based online gaming platform in India. Headquartered in Hyderabad, the portfolio includes real money, fantasy, and casual games. A23 Rummy is our dominant platform under the marquee brand A23 (earlier Ace2Three) followed by A23 Games consisting of casual games like carrom, pool, etc., and Cricket.com which is an AI-prediction engine for everything cricket.

4. What are the company's product offerings?

Our product portfolio revolves around real money, fantasy, and casual gaming applications. A23 is our most celebrated offering which incorporates the lion’s share of our user base and revenue. It includes a universe of rummy, fantasy, carrom, and pool games. These games cater to the preferences of Indian users and use AI to personalize the app for them.

Our other offering is Cricket.com which is an AI-prediction platform designed around in-depth and never seen before cricket coverage. It provides insights that give fans predictions on the game pertaining to momentum shifts, player performances, and simulators along with staples of live scores, news, etc. The game is powered by Criclytics, an advanced algorithm-based data analytics platform.

5. How do you look at India's skill-based online gaming culture? Is it growing?

Real-money skill-based gaming is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 34% in a coming couple of years. On our own platform, we have seen significant traction of new users willing to play real-money games coming in from Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns. It is important to note that the industry is growing faster than many other sectors be it OTT, cinema, home entertainment, or audio. Furthermore, the recent Supreme Court judgment declaring Rummy as a skill-based game and the Government of India appointing MeitY to ensure a safe and responsible gaming experience, have indeed played a role in building trust and safeguarding the industry.

6. What are the industry-led challenges faced by the company, especially with licensing?

Currently, it is very challenging for both businesses and users, with every state having its own norms for online gaming. Another challenge that we have been experiencing is off-shore gambling companies taking away money from the consumers and not having to pay any taxes in India despite online gambling being banned across states. This too can only be done away with when there is a proper legal framework governing the industry with set regulations.

7. How will 5G improve the growth of the online gaming industry and what benefits will it yield for gamers?

The 5G network will help accommodate more players at once without any glitches or lag while gaming. The majority of 4G networks have a latency of 30 to 40 milliseconds, which in turn affects the response time and frames per second of games. However, the 5G network will offer gamers a 5-millisecond latency rate. No matter where a person lives, even basic devices for 5G connectivity will offer superior graphics, and audiovisual, and complex gaming experiences.