The rise of smartphones in India has certainly given a shot in the arm to the gaming industry. Further, as most people stayed indoors amid the Covid-19 outbreak, the online gaming industry witnessed a massive boom. In India too, the mobile gaming industry is developing like never before. It has turned into an entertainment source for individuals across all demographics and backgrounds.
A look at the thriving mobile gaming market in India…
Currently, the mobile gaming market in India stands at around $1.5 billion (in revenue) and is poised to touch $5 billion by 2025. According to the India Mobile Gaming Report 2021 by the Mobile Premier League (MPL), India’s Tier 3 cities and towns have witnessed a significant rise in the number of online gamers in 2021. The top 30 cities reported up to 170 per cent more gamers compared to 2020. The pandemic has accelerated the organic growth of digital games as mobile app downloads grew by 50 per cent and user engagement went up by 20 per cent.
India is currently home to over 430 million mobile gamers and the number is estimated to grow to 650 million by 2025.
According to KPMG’s estimates, the total revenue of the Indian gaming market is expected to grow 113 per cent from Rs 136 billion ($1.83 billion) in fiscal year 2021-22 to Rs 290 billion ($3.91 billion) by 2025. Over the same period, the number of gamers is projected to grow 52 per cent from 433 million currently to 657 million. As per KPMG, the online casual gaming segment is poised to see the highest growth, with revenues growing 182 per cent from Rs 60 billion ($808 million) in 2021 to Rs 169 billion ($2.28 billion) by 2025.
Thriving mobile gaming start-ups
India now has over 400 gaming companies and 90 game development centres. According to a research, Nazara Technologies, an India-based diversified gaming and sports media platform, has invested more than Rs 3 billion in gaming over the last five years. Meanwhile, Tencent’s $1 billion unicorn Dream 11 sponsored the 2020 Indian Premier League. Games24x7, backed by Tiger Global, has a portfolio of skill-based and casual games. Paytm First Games, a part of Paytm, features 300 games and a 45 million-strong gaming community. Meanwhile, JioGames, a joint venture between Reliance Jio and MediaTek, has created a Gaming Masters/ eSports event and is teaming up with Microsoft to deliver Microsoft Cloud to India.
Rise in online population
The number of internet users is increasing with each passing day. Most individuals in India access the internet from their smartphones. With so many Indian users on the internet, it was a ripe opportunity for the mobile gaming industry to shift its focus to the Indian market. As a result, almost every gaming company has entered the Indian market. Many game developers, both Indian and international, are making games primarily for Indian mobile users.
India has a significant demographic advantage with 46 per cent of the population under the age of 25 and 67 per cent in the working class (ages 15-64). Demography is considered a major factor in the growth of the gaming industry. According to a survey conducted by KPMG, 75-80 per cent of the respondents between the group of 18-24 and 25-36 reported playing at least one to three times a week. Engagement is perceived to be higher in the age group of 37-50, with nearly 50 per cent reported to be playing more than four times a week.
Affordable data tariffs
India has smoothly transitioned to 4G mobile networks. High speed internet has become so commonplace that people can stream a movie in HD quality on their mobile phones. Further, data plans have become highly affordable. Affordable and high speed internet data packs have set the stage for the online gaming industry in India. Owing to high speed internet and affordable data packs, people can now play high-end games like Call of Duty as well as games with video chat options such as poker online.
Traditional games going online
Traditional Indian games are now changing the face of the gaming industry in India as they are being transformed into their digital versions. These games resonate with millennials in India, continually existing as family top picks. Classic games in India hold a provincial and neighbourhood flavour to their procedure and techniques. Indian gaming companies are connecting with the common man through local games in digital form. Traditional games like Ludo, Chess, Carrom, Business, UNO, Rummy and Teen Patti are significantly more accessible on mobile phones and other devices.
The Indian government has taken several initiatives to drive growth in the domestic gaming industry. It has set up the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comic (AVGC) Centre of Excellence (CoE). Additionally, 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) is permitted in the gaming space. India’s flagship programme, Digital India has escalated the gaming industry to a certain extent. The government’s Digital Village scheme is also aimed at increasing internet usage and smartphone penetration in rural India. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education is working on policies to create job opportunities for students in online gaming and toys. Recently, India conducted the Smart India Hackathon to help students showcase their online gaming skills. Also, data centre parks and related initiatives in the country are aimed at providing digital infrastructure for upcoming gaming companies.
5G: The next disruptor
5G edge networks bring in new capabilities, allowing communication service providers to develop innovative applications, services and revenue streams in the media and entertainment domain. As per ABI Research, 5G and edge networks will extend gaming into a fully immersive, multi-sensory environment with multi-player collaboration to access and play the same game. Now, the entire gaming industry is at the cusp of a big change – not only are we about to enter a new console generation, but the advent of 5G technologies will fully unlock the potential of mobile gaming.
The gaming industry will undergo transformation with the introduction of 5G technology. 5G offers reduced network latency, which is a key driver for mobile gaming. The technology improves the responsiveness of interactions by making it in real time. Moreover, 5G technology will enable artificial reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR). The complete AR experience has been held back by issues like improper video rendering and battery draining. 5G has the potential to level up the AR/VR experience with its edge computing-based approach. It will relay the majority of computing operations towards the edge network, thereby making user experience a lot more seamless.
Gaming is no longer seen merely as a mode of entertainment. People across the globe have taken up professional gaming and gamers are participating in championships, even on smartphones.
The Indian gaming sector is also attracting investments, with nearly $1 billion being invested in the sector in the past six months. Given the potential of the gaming industry, many institutes around the country are offering technical courses to become game developers and designers.
The Indian gaming industry is set to be on a high growth trajectory, with rapid digitalisation and transformation, increasing internet usage and rising smartphone penetration. The domestic gaming industry is expected to create 10,000-12,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2023. In the following two years, it is expected to attract $100 million in FDI.
The increase in smartphone usage and in-app purchases will create immense opportunity in the Indian mobile gaming market for mobile game developers, both domestic and foreign.