Gamers are a wide and far spread community. There exist several genres and several series of games that have communities of their own, often divided by platform, geography or other salient parameters. Often, one single game is big enough to have its own community while in other instances, gamers across various traits band together. And while the primary objective of a group is usually to help fellow gamers connect and talk about their love for the game, it does not take long for a few sour grapes to ruin the experience for everyone. Even if these elements are dealt with, a community probably never goes beyond being a discussion forum for their interests. That is when Elite Groups came in to prove that there is much more to the term 'community' than just being an online group or a forum.
Healthy gaming communities do not flourish on their own, they have to be nurtured and grown. This responsibility, to nourish and turn a Facebook group into something bigger, is what Abhi Goyal, Gaurav Gupta, Preet Arora and Jai Desai took upon themselves.
The idea started as a Facebook group in 2014, primarily to facilitate discussions about CS:GO. It seemed like any other place to discuss the game and show their love for it, but the founders had much more in mind.
“When we started Elite, we had the sole objective of making a unique platform where gamers could connect with each other not only online but also befriend them in real life too”, says Jai Desai, one of the founders. “We wanted to and have succeeded in not only making a community of gamers, but rather, a family of gamers”.
The first Elite Groups real-life meetup
This family of theirs was growing at such a rapid pace that they needed moderators to keep everything neat and tidy. The most popular figures in the group were chosen via polls and appointed to a month of trial admin-ship. Transparency formed the base of this group, and this move made it easier for the members to trust the people running it. Eventually, the sheer size of the group made it impossible to find posts. The topics covered a wide range. From PC builds and discussing pro matches, to finding teammates and helping weed out hackers, and sometimes just pure banter and memes.
“After a while we realized the fact that certain important posts were often getting lost among the other discussions. That is when we decided to segregate the groups for each topic,” says Jai Desai about the decision. “We have an Elite Gamers Hub which is a platform for all Gaming & Hardware discussions. We have an Elite Gamers Store where some of the finest handpicked dealers cater to the needs of the Gaming Industry by providing them PC Components at the best of rates”, he adds, “The Elite Offtopic, however, is our biggest group and has close to 50,000 members of the gaming community.”
The members of this ever-increasing family were happy playing video games, but the group owners have ambitions of growing beyond a simple discussion hub. Hence, the crew organised an online 1 vs 1 tournament for CS:GO and Dota 2, funded by the administration. The response was phenomenal. More than 100 participants showed up. They knew they had something great going on here, and wanted to create something with this, that hasn’t been attempted before.
“At DreamHack Mumbai 2018, we organized an offline CS:GO 2v2 event at the venue for our Elite members. The CORSAIR booth was packed with our members throughout the course of the event.”, Jai recalls as he realizes how big of a turning point that event was. “Seeing the potential at an offline event, when we approached CORSAIR to inquire if they had an interest in sponsoring this community they agreed to support our family of gamers. This mutual partnership and support, has led to the immense growth of both them and Elite in the past few months”.
This little happy family had gotten large enough now to secure corporate sponsorships. Recently, they announced their association with GALAX, yet another gaming equipment manufacturer. This enabled them to conduct community giveaways along side bigger and better tournaments.
Md Armughanuddin, a group admin, says they want to provide, “A platform which can cater to all their needs, and give them the recognition they deserve.” Having access to a massive audience pool, the group served as a platform for streamers and content creators to share their work with thousands of people across the country. It provides these content creators with a much-needed boost, and helps the audience discover new content.
Going forward, they are attempting to bridge the gap between brands and consumers by offering a medium of communication that speaks the language of the gamers.
Elite Groups went from being a discussion forum, to a community that transcends beyond the boundaries of the internet. One that enables gamers through casual tournaments, advice and deals about building their own gaming rigs, support system for streamers and content creators, and above all, friends that they can share their love for the game with.
But among the many growing pains that the group faces, occassional toxicity among group members remains at the top of the list, and is something that the group's founders will have to tackle with an iron fist.