💎Puzzling: Wordle, Ukraine & Esports (20 February 2022)

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A common game plan while solving any puzzle is to first put the easiest pieces together, and get the right direction to decoding it. All of it does take effort and patience!

This week, we look at some perplexing questions that the Ukraine crisis, Wordle and Online Gaming have brought up recently. Only time will tell if these puzzles get solved.

NYC CRACKING HE WORDLE

The new popular web-based word game Wordle has been gaining a lot of fame. Created by Reddit engineer Josh Wardle and launched in October last year, it gives players six guesses to determine a five-letter word that changes every day.

Earlier this year, the New York Times (NYT) announced it had acquired Wordle for over USD 1 million - the game has now been added to the NYT website.

Keep it simple!

From 90 daily players in November, Wordle has now attracted nearly 3 million players across the world.

It has low barriers to play — just open the website, needn't create an account, or download the app. There is no over-engineering in the game's format. It can be played once a day, with the same word for all. Sharing of the result is simple and the way it is done does not act as a spoiler for others, creating a simultaneous sense of community and scarcity.

How can NYT monetize it?

- Through physical products such as a board game, or perhaps merchandise like mugs or t-shirts might become popular with the young age group

- A more gamified version of Wordle can be included as a part of NYT's paywall, wherein only the subscribers have access to it

- Launching the game through an app with features like winners scoreboard, prize pool and ads can be used to earn revenue

Our take

Like many other popular games in the past, Wordle blazed like a comet but could have faded quickly too. The NYT might have given it a footing for the long-term, in a space where it can exist alongside other crossword puzzles.

For NYT, Wordle is a new addition to its other offerings that are not tied to news but still made up 11% of the turnover in 2021. Interesting basket of offerings to reach its target of 10 million subscribers by 2025. Hence, a win-win for both!

INDIA AT CROSSROADS

Ukraine has become the focus of geopolitical attention in recent weeks as Russian troops mass on its borders. But what exactly is happening?

Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union before it collapsed at the end of the Cold War in 1991. The disintegration of the Soviet Union left Russia with a vastly depleted population, economy, and superpower status. Now Russia is seeking to reclaim some of that glory.

How are others reacting?

The demands from Moscow have prompted threats of sanctions by the USA and the UK and military deployment by NATO allies. China on the other hand has supported Russia.

After taking no clear stance for two months, India called for quiet diplomacy and a peaceful resolution of the tense affairs. Also, at the UN, India abstained from a vote on whether to discuss the situation at all.

India's concerns:

- Military: Russia makes up 50% of India's armament imports. Air missiles order was underway and it is yet to be seen how the Biden administration might react to it

- China factor: India needs both the USA and Russia to counter China. Russia is an ally and can help bring leverage while the USA is a rival and can undermine Beijing

- Economically: India depends on Russia and the USA for its supply of crude oil and natural gas. Any kind of disturbances might lead to energy crises

Our take

For India, this stand-off has echoes from the Cold War of the 20th century. Back then, India preferred non-alignment and played the role of a peacemaker.

At present, India has so much at stake - arms, allies, and oil. Probably, good to take the same old tested route of being a pacifier. For the future, India should identify vulnerabilities - overdependence on any particular country. High time to reevaluate the import policy!

GAME ON!

This Union budget was a little different. For the first time ever, the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics (AVGC) sector found a mention.

The government recognized that the industry has a huge scope to generate employment for youth. Many believe that the sector has a growth potential that the IT industry had 20 years back. This is evident from the fact that global players are now tapping into India’s talent for offshore production.

Thanks to the pandemic!

Post the pandemic, the sector witnessed multifold growth and is expected to reach USD 4 billion by 2026 from USD 2 billion at present. The sector presents huge opportunities for investors too. The latest trends in the market such as metaverse and digitization of education can be a boost for further growth.

But before the government and investors plan anything huge, there are some bottlenecks to be solved for!

The caveats

- Many states have banned professional games like poker, counting them under gambling. Further, there has been a rise in Intellectual Property(IP) issues due to lack of clear regulations

- In Asian Games 2022, esports will be a medal category. However, India does not have a national-level sports federation for Esports hence supporting the entries will be difficult

- People still perceive gaming and animation as a recreational activity and don't want to pursue a career in it since the job opportunities available are not attractive enough

Our take

Setting up the AVGC task force is a much welcome move, but there has to be a more detailed action plan at each level.

Starting right from the education system for awareness building to the regulators for clear-eyed rules. Moreover, investments not just by the government but also by the private players will help set the infrastructure for the industry. Multiple stakeholders have to be involved to make ACGC reach its full potential.

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Be ready with your brain buzzer for the next puzzle!

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