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Indian Gaming Sector Turning into a Mobile-First World The cutting-edge combination of mobile and games powered by the internet brings in a huge opportunity for the Indian gaming market

By Bhavin Pandya

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A few months ago, there was news that got all of us very excited. India features among the five biggest mobile gaming markets in the world. The mobile gaming industry in India is projected to reach $943 million by 2022, with three out of four Indian players enjoying mobile games minimum twice a day, as per a report by The Power of Mobile Gaming in India' released by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and Kantar IMRB in association POKKT.

The online player has a broad choice today, ranging from games like PUBG, Candy Crush and skill games like rummy. The players spend over an hour on mobile games every day on an average. When you look at the entertainment zone, this is higher than the average of around forty-five minutes a day that is spent on video services like Netflix viewership. Yes, the choice of entertainment has changed for the Indian user today.

Television or Gaming

Prime-Time television viewing happens between 8 pm to midnight. This is also the same time when most gamers are online. What it clearly indicates is the preference of users today. When we were young, we often heard, gaming was for nerds. It was definitely not the topic of discussion at a party or over casual chats.

Today, if you talk about games, it is overwhelmingly connected with smartphones both for Android and iOS. Users prefer to consume games over apps and play "on the go'. There are so many games to pick from that a player is absolutely spoilt for choice.

There are social games like Dhoom3, Bahubali and international titles as well. There are also skill games that include popular card games as well as the current rising star with fantasy games.

More Users Means Higher Revenue

The cutting-edge combination of mobile and games powered by the internet brings in a huge opportunity for the Indian gaming market. We could see the big change happening with the Pokemon Go craze. 2018 saw the blockbuster game PUBG becoming a favourite, and then there were games like Ludo King that is based on the classic board game.

Gaming started as a concept for tech-savvy people, but today is a mass market phenomenon. It has moved from the "niche' entertainment genre to mainstream, including the small towns of India. The market stands at 250 million with over 222 million active gamers as per the report in POKKT. Over 89per cent of game revenues is generated by mobile games. Further, the biggest contributor to gaming revenues is Real Money Games (RMG), based on skill. These games offer real cash rewards to players and are completely based on skills. The demand for games is on an upward curve, with over 250 gaming companies as compared to mere 25 in 2010.

The Theory for the Gaming Boon

One of the main reasons for the growing popularity of online games is the increase in accessibility to the user. This accessibility comes from broadly two things. First, the affordable smartphones and second the cheap data connectivity with Jio taking the lead. Games no longer need to be data size conscious. The internet connection is fast, cheap and stable enough to play live games, without any drop. With just a tap on the smartphone, a user can download a game app and start playing. Of course, this is directly proportional to smartphone adoption in the country.

With India expected to have over 530 million smartphones, gaming companies are all set to capitalize on this growth. The market is growing at a rapid pace with frictionless payments, affordable data charges, and budget-friendly smartphones, along with localized content.

The Indian market is already established as a mobile-first economy. The mere fact that mobile gamers are on their phones more than twice in a day, gives enough opportunity for gamers to get creative. The potential for monetizing and gaining new users is huge.

If we talk about the largest segment of players, then it is the male in the age group of 20 to 35 years. This age group is into action and adventure games, closely followed by card games and fantasy sports games. Players over 35 years go for mental stimulation games and we once more see players quite keen on card games and puzzles.

Trends to Look Out for

Even though the gaming world looks very exciting, there are still some lingering challenges. Indian gamers are still a bit shy when it comes to spending money on games. Globally, gaming is a category where players do the highest in-app purchases. Freemium is a popular category in India, and there are different ways the gaming companies are cashing on it.

But what is truly going to take mobile gaming to the next level are the real cash games. It is one segment, where players are not hesitant to pay a small registration fee and win cash rewards. These games whether fantasy or card games are purely skill based and challenges the player in the right way. With India being declared as the fastest growing economy, we are all set to see new avenues of growth in the gaming segment in the coming years.

Bhavin Pandya

CEO & Co-Founder, Play Games24X7

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