Stuff Meets: Khalid Wani, Senior Director – Sales, India, Western Digital

Promoted content

How has the gaming industry evolved in India?

Gaming as an industry has seen major uptake in the recent past. With increased internet penetration and easy access to technology, more and more people are engaging in online gaming. The Indian esports market is expected to grow at 46% CAGR to grow over fourfold from ₹2.5 billion in 2021 to ₹11 billion by 2025. The popularity of esports is demonstrated by the number of fans, which stood at 532 million in 2022 globally. What is more interesting to see is that gaming is no more just a mere hobby. It is being considered a viable career option and gaming enthusiasts are increasing their investments in relevant hardware to enhance their gaming experience. 

Another space where the gaming industry is evolving is the quality of gaming. With newer technologies, game developers have a chance to enhance the overall gaming experience and make their games movie-like visual delights with improved sound effects. However, this means that their file sizes are also growing significantly. And in the case of AAA games, which of course have the highest fidelity, it can run into 100s of GBs. 

With the maturing infrastructure that supports the gaming industry and recent government initiatives, we see this becoming a very strong industry going forward. And, as a leading storage company, Western Digital will continue to innovate and offer solutions for the evolving needs of gamers and further enhance their gaming experience.

Is storage that important for gamers that you have a gaming-centric portfolio?

Storage technology is essential for optimal performance and a seamless gaming experience. One of the studies we sponsored, “Insights into Next-Gen Indian PC Gamer”, showcased the importance of correct storage solutions for a smooth, seamless gaming experience. The study revealed that 51% of gamers blame slow loading time, 39% on the loss of frame, and 36% on the stuttering of visuals on screen for bad gameplay. 

Our WD_BLACK portfolio offers solutions that help enhance PC performance and give an industry-level gaming experience. For instance, the WD_BLACK SN850X NVMe SSD and the WD_BLACK SN770 NVMe SSD are purpose-built gaming devices that give an ultimate gaming experience and help maintain consistent performance. Additionally, these SSDs also allow gamers to keep their game library in one place, eliminating the need to uninstall and reinstall games to free up space.

How does your portfolio address the specific needs of gamers? 

As mentioned, gamers demand solutions that are purpose-built for them. Our WD_BLACK portfolio is designed ground-up keeping in mind the gamers’ requirements and the evolving gaming industry. We have the widest range of gaming storage solutions, designed for professional and casual gamers and their unique needs and devices. We continue to add innovative products to our award-winning WD_BLACK gaming portfolio so that gamers have more options to enhance their gaming experience.  

Under our WD_BLACK portfolio, we offer a variety of blazing-fast solid-state drives (SSDs) and HDDs, specially designed for gamers. It includes products like WD_BLACK SN850X NVMe SSD, WD_BLACK SN770 NVMe SSD, WD_BLACK P40 Game Drive SSD, WD_BLACK P10 Game Drive, to name a few products. 

The WD_BLACK SN850X SSD, powered by NVMe technology, which provides speeds of up to 7,300 MB/s and helps deliver top-tier performance with ridiculously short load times for an elite gaming experience. As far as capacity is concerned, it offers up to 4TB of storage. 

The drive also offers more control to gamers through the WD_BLACK Dashboard which monitors the health of the drive. What’s more, it comes loaded with futuristic features, such as predictive loading, overhead balancing, and adaptive thermal management. 

We also conduct comprehensive studies to understand gamers’ challenges and their expectations and accordingly bring customized solutions for them.

Could you shed light on the initiatives undertaken by Western Digital aimed explicitly at gamers? How do these initiatives contribute to fostering and strengthening the gaming community in India? 

At Western Digital, we work with various stakeholders in the ecosystem to create platforms that help promote professional gaming and esports in India. We have created multiple platforms for gamers to participate and showcase their skills/knowledge. 

We organize one-of-a-kind contests like, “Build Your Super Gaming PC”. Under this contest, participants were asked to build a super PC using the components provided on the website – such as internal storage, Graphic Card, RAM, and CPU amongst others.

Another such initiative is the esports tournament, WD_BLACK Cup, which has been conceptualized and executed by us to support and encourage the growth of esports in India. It provides a platform for gamers and gaming enthusiasts to display their expertise, test their skills and learn new gaming techniques. It is our flagship gaming tournament which features some of the best gaming influencers and esports players. It is designed to motivate, recognize, and reward budding gamers in India and South Asia.

The WD_BLACK  Cup has emerged as one of the largest esports tournaments in India and has seen a gradual uptake in participation. This year was the 4th year of the WD_BLACK Cup pitting some of the top gamers in India against each other. The Cup also rewarded the winners handsomely, with a total prize pool of about ₹13 lakhs.

The gaming industry has seen a rise in the number of women gamers. As a brand, how are you helping female gamers? 

As per recent research,40% of Indian gamers today are women, which goes on to shatter gender stereotypes that may be typically associated with the gaming industry. Additionally, the research also highlights that women spend more time (11.2 hours per week) on average on non-online games than men (10.2 hours). Women gamers typically prefer casual games and strategy games, while men are predominantly opting for action adventure or real money gaming (RMG) titles. 

At Western Digital, while we are building purpose-built storage solutions that cater to the needs of all gamers, we have also been exploring specific platforms for women gamers. Through our WD_BLACK Cup we offer exclusive opportunity for female gamers to compete, hone their skills and get a shot at glory. The tournament comprised many famous games, and features teams from South Asian regions like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Maldives. 

Our plan is to have a women-specific tournament, which we call LUNA, every alternate year so when it comes to season 5 our plan is to have them in it. We saw immense interest amongst women gamers in WD_BLACK Cup Season 3 and the competencies they bring to the table is on another level. Additionally, both gaming influencers and streamer community, have played a major role in encouraging young females to participate in such tournaments.

What new products are you planning to introduce for gamers in India?

We are a consumer-focused and market-driven organization. We are constantly studying the needs of our users and building solutions catering to those needs. 

From a gaming perspective, our goal is two-fold. One is to become the top gaming brand in India, making WD_BLACK the go-to brand for gaming and the gamer ecosystem. The second one is educating the consumers about the importance of storage so that they buy the right storage to get the right experience. Everything that we have done and that we plan to do going forward will focus on these aspects. 

In terms of initiatives, we continue with our gaming and esports focus initiatives to help the gaming community and the ecosystem.