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The Future Of Digital Gaming Is On Mobile Devices: Salone Sehgal The general partner of Lumikai believes the mobile gaming category is finding the brightest spot even as other businesses face the heat owing to the coronavirus outbreak

By Prabhjeet Bhatla

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

The media and entertainment industry has witnessed drastic changes in the last few months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nationwide lockdowns have forced the entire world to change their way of living, which has had a massive impact on consumer spends. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the media and entertainment segments all over the world such as events, cinemas, stadiums, entertainment parks, broadways, etc. The cancellation of major events and shows has destabilized the industry. In addition to this, media and broadcasting companies are running into losses as advertisers have lowered their spending. With social distancing and quarantine in play, a significant positive impact has been noticed in the online gaming sector. The drastic transformation of consumer life has strengthened the online gaming market. People across the globe, isolated by lockdown orders, have turned towards video/online games for some entertainment and fun.

Video games have long been polarizing, with people either loving them or hating them. The coronavirus has effectively turned the tables for many in the hate camp. Video gaming trends have experienced a massive surge in players and revenue recently. Many individuals have purchased gaming consoles for the first time as a means of entertainment. These new players are also benefiting from the social function of online multiplayer gaming. Practicing social distancing and observing stay at home orders have motivated many people to play more video games to find a connection with others.

Salone Sehgal, general partner, Lumikai discusses the importance of upskilling and technology support in enabling digital/online gaming to endure the impact of COVID-19 and adapt to the changing demand and supply behavior and market dynamics with Entrepreneur India during a webinar.

Surge in mobile game and app downloads

We're all still experiencing the harrowing and unsettling situation that is the coronavirus pandemic. Gaming has been a means of escapism and time filling for many people confined to their homes. National/regional lockdowns and travel bans across the globe have led to a significant increase in consumer engagement with mobile games, especially in mobile-first markets in India. Mobile's portability and accessibility have solidified the platform's dominance even further this year, partially due to a spillover effect from Internet throughout certain markets.

Naturally, the rise in playing time has led to revenue growth for mobile gaming. But as it is infamously challenging to convert mobile players into payers, engagement growth will by far outpace revenue growth, especially on Android, the dominant OS in many emerging markets.

"Mobile has unlocked a large audience for gaming in itself. It was earlier a niche fringe activity with that you have to have expensive hardware but mobile has really transformed that scenario. Clearly out of $160 million gaming market globally, $80 million is contributed by mobile and it's the fastest growing category and we don't see that changing anytime soon. Now, with a variety of game engines out there, cross platform porting is possible as well," said Sehgal.

"We are big believers of mobile as a key entertainment device. It has opened up demographics where non-traditional audiences who didn't necessarily self-identify as gamers picked-up their mobile phones and started using and playing games and have made that their personal entertainment device," she added.

Fantasy gaming space

Fantasy gaming overall sees an expansion as people are left with few other entertainment options during the outbreak of the virus. It is ruling the online gaming space, with millions of sports aficionados across the country trying their hands at it. From students to IT professionals, anyone with a smartphone and access to the Internet can become a fantasy game player.

"Fantasy is an interesting space which already has a very obvious incumbent which is now demonstrating its financial muscle. It is the golden age for gaming overall. My advice to the players in the market is to look beyond fantasy and towards other genres which don't necessarily have incumbent yet and build out in those categories. Go after the spaces which are untapped and from an investment point of view as well, it's a great vintage year to invest in start-ups that will get built in the next two years which is going to be for the market leaders of the future," she said.

Audience engagement and learning

The never-seen-before stay at home orders worldwide has meant more time in front of gaming devices. With schools and workplaces being closed, it also means young kids are sharing space with their parents. For busy parents trying to balance work, kids, school, meals, and more, any entertainment source can be a welcome virtual babysitter.

For kids of all ages, video games can provide significant social, motivational, emotional and cognitive benefits. It can also be a vital element of developing education in young children, teaching everything from colors to alphabets. Active games that get players to move their bodies like the wildly popular "Just Dance' game have the additional benefit of getting people moving in their homes. Perhaps the new research flooding in daily will change the cadence around kids and video games for good.

The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting many colleges and universities to abruptly and comprehensively adopt online learning, remote work, and other activities to help contain the spread of the virus. In the past decade, institutions have recognized the importance of advising, early alerts, degree planning, and other services to help students attain their academic goals affordably and efficiently. A wide range of new applications and technologies to support student success are now available and may prove invaluable to help students adapt to fully remote learning.

Technologies to help identify and intervene with students at academic risk or to give students social or community resource referrals are still extremely new. Even so, students in particular appreciate them and might especially need them now more than ever.

Institutions that have adopted student success technologies early and deployed them widely have a significant advantage during COVID-19, when digital life is far less constrained than life in the physical world. Students need help completing their academic terms and earning credentials during this extraordinary crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic will have many, many lessons for us all; among them will likely be the ways in which student success technologies can help ameliorate student's academic and even personal concerns and the ways in which these systems and data can be improved to better help students and those who support them when a new normal has established itself.

"Gamification and game mechanics are means to drive retention and engagement is well established. Gaming is a fantastic way to teach certain skills and abilities like visual spatial reasoning skills, problem solving and collaborative skills," she said.

Gaming post-COVID

"Our hypothesis going into the pandemic was that even though currently gaming is at an all-time high in terms of usage, monetization adoption even after that and once gaming usage would normalize, it would still be there at higher peaks that pre-COVID levels, COVID's digital acceleration at least for the Indian market has meant that there were a lot of non-traditional users who adopted gaming for the first time and there was this market expansion that happened and we don't see that switching back," Sehgal said in optimistic tone.

With these major advantages, it really is no surprise that the mobile gaming industry is fast taking over the gaming ecosystem in India.

Prabhjeet Bhatla

Former Staff

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