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Game On: How India is rising into a Global Leader of Online Gaming

Hundreds of startups, millions of players, and billions of dollars, these stats pretty much sum India’s rapidly growing gaming industry. Ten years ago, India had about 30 game development studios and only a few thousand players.

The entire industry was worth less than $100 million, and India’s most famous PUBG player, Soul Mortal, was only 12 years old. Fast forward to 2019, and the country’s digital gaming sector is worth a whopping $1 billion. So, what’s fueling the country’s online gaming sector?

Access to Mobile Phones

India ranks amongst the top five countries with the highest numbers of mobile gamers in the world. In a report published by Flurry Analytics earlier this year, India is home to 13% of the world’s mobile players, lagging only behind the US, which has a market share of 20%.

Indian mobile gamers also spend a significant amount of time on their games, edging out China, the USA, and Russia to rank behind Brazil. Sweden and the Netherlands, however, take the bragging rights for countries with mobile games who spend the most amount of time gaming.

Another significant stat among Indian mobile gamers is that over 70% of them play games on Android devices. Research firm Statista shows over 813 million Indians possess mobile devices, but only less than 20 million people use iOS devices.

With over 813 million phone users, India’s mobile gaming sector will continue to grow in 2020 and beyond. India also features a huge population of young people, a critical demographic in the online gaming sector.

Massive Internet Penetration

India could well be the future of online gaming if the country’s growing access to the stable Internet continues. Presently, more than 627 million people have access to the Internet, and nearly 500 million of them use the Internet regularly.

Unsurprisingly, 97% of Indian Internet users access the Internet through their mobile devices. That shows the country’s mobile gaming population will continue to surge, as will the overall gaming population.

Compared to other emerging markets like China, Brazil, and Africa, India shows the biggest potential in increasing Internet access. That means Indian players are increasingly gaining awareness about the Internet. They also have cheaper data plans, which translate to having stable Internet connections for gaming and other activities.

Gender Balanced Gaming

In many countries, male gamers outnumber female gamers by a long shot. In India, however, the online gaming revolution is sweeping both men and women, ensuring everyone in the country can play their favorite online games at will.

The precise percentage of female Indian gamers stands at 42%. And while it means men still outnumber female players, it’s impressive by global standards. In many countries, female gamers make up less than 30% of the equation.

Considering India is investing massively to empower women, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the number of female gamers upsurges their male counterparts in five years. It would be an even bigger leap if more Indian female developers rose up to create games that focus on topics that interest Indian female gamers.

Mega Investments

As Internet access increases in India, demand for online services is also increasing. Unsurprisingly, brand name companies have identified market gaps in India’s online gaming sector, and a few have already made major moves.

Tencent, for example, which owns shares in Call of Duty, League of Legends, and other famous games, recently announced plans to invest in Indian gaming startups. The company has already invested over $2 billion in the country.

Youzu, another Chinese company, launched a host of mobile games in 2017 and 2018. Vietnam-based startup StomStudio also has games targeting the Indian market since its entrance to the country.

While a lot of investors are focusing on open-world games, the online casino industry is also booming. The standard Indian online casino can be accessed on a mobile device. It’s free to join and even welcomes players with free betting money.

Freemium Games

India owes its online gaming growth to the rise of free to play games, shows a recent survey. Before 2014, when most games still required a small fee to be downloaded, downloads in India grew at relatively low rates.

But according to a survey done from 2014 to 2016, downloads in Indian more than doubled as free to play games continued to hit play stores. Many players download casual and sports simulation games according to the same survey.

Compared to developed countries, Indian gamers spend very little on in-app purchases. Experts, however, believe that could change as the market matures, and India’s middle class continues to grow.

The second point is exceedingly crucial, as it’s the primary reason why the gaming sector is appreciating exponentially. India’s middle class has been expanding for the past two decades, and it’s growing even faster these days.

Growing Interest in eSports

Although still far behind the American, European, and Asian markets, India’s eSports industry is soaring by the day. It’s also reflective of the country’s gaming trends, whereby most players focus on the mobile gaming sector.

Despite that, the eSports market in the country is turning heads among global eSports investors. ESL, one of the leading organizers of video game competitions, now has an investment in India.

The focus of the new company is to create content that could appeal to a wide range of gamers. If ESL decides to host International tournaments in India, it could have a tremendous impact on the country’s eSports industry.

Of course, India still lacks the fan base to fill up stadiums in the eSports sector. But with the country producing some of the best PUBG players, it won’t be long before India becomes a big player in the industry.

Artificial Intelligence

India is home to millions of independent game developers, most of who rely on AI to create simple games fast and cheaply. Artificial Intelligence also helps developers monetize their games.

Lately, leading AI companies have been entering the Indian market to elevate video game development to the next level. Absentia, for example, has an AI engine that creates hundreds of play environments, terrains, and models per second.

With such a powerful engine, developers can customize their games in countless ways. This, in turn, could help create games that resonate closely with the Indian market, boosting the gaming industry significantly.

AI also reduces the costs of developing games dramatically. With AI engines creating most of the elements needed in a game, the costs of creating a game can be reduced by significant proportions.

Parents Promoting Games

India is currently witnessing the first generation of parents who grew up playing video games. And like elsewhere in the world, these new parents are playing an important role in promoting online games to their children.

Among the middle class and the rich, kids have at least two smart gadgets which they use to play. Others have either a mobile phone or a laptop. But thanks to their gaming loving parents, they also engage in online gaming regularly.

Of course, Indian parents give their kids mobile devices primarily for learning purposes. But in between doing assignments and researching on their next projects, kids are using smartphones for entertainment, more so, by playing games.

Social Media and Gaming

The lines between gaming and socialization have narrowed down so much that you can use social media and play games at the same time. Think of Farmville, the online game that operates on Facebook and challenges players to complete daily farming activities for rewards.

Minecraft also features the same aspects as Farmville, except that it allows you to create a broader range of items. Apart from social games, lots of video games are using social media to promote their titles to Indian players.

On the other hand, these games have features that encourage players to share their activities on social media. That way, the player can easier convince their social media friends to play these games.

The Age of Crowdfunding

It’s never been easier to start an online business in India, especially in the gaming sector. As we had mentioned, billion-dollar companies like Alibaba and Tencent are already exploring the country for investments.

As such, anyone with a gaming idea that needs funding can get the money required quickly and turn it to reality. Unfortunately, investors are incredibly selective in what projects they fund. Increased of scams and controversies around funded projects around the world has often scared investors to get on fundraising campaigns.

Fortunately, Indian projects can always look toward the crypto industry for ideas on how to raise money for their projects. Although heavily regulated in India, lots of businesses around the world have been fundraising money from the public using crypto-based systems.

Online Multiplayer Gaming

One of the biggest trends in the gaming industry revolves around how players interact with fellow players. These days, Indian gamers are interacting with one another, not just on social networks alone.

Thanks to the advancement of multiplayer gaming, players can compete against their friends or strangers online. What’s more, they can play their favorite games across multiple devices, which makes gaming tremendously convenient.

About the author

Tirupati Gumpula

Hi, I'm a Tech Enthusiastic and founder of Way to Hunt. Need any help? Email [email protected]

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