Deciphering Indian Gaming Landscape 2021: Insights beyond what India plays!

AlterLife
10 min readJul 1, 2021

Glimpse of Indian Gaming Industry!

The Indian gaming industry has seen phenomenal growth since its inception in the country. Its footprint in the Indian market was predominantly known as the sleeping giant for years, and now it has finally awakened with some serious signs of rapid improvement. In the last couple of years, the gaming industry is on the constant rise with no indication of slowing down. Considering the increasing saturation of all major markets including China, many experts believe that the gaming market in India is poised for explosive growth, which will, in turn, act as an engine for the growth of the global gaming market.

Over the last year, due to COVID-19 and the continuing pandemic, there is a big jump in the time spent in the game as well as an overall increase in the total subscriber base. It would not be an exaggeration if one says that, COVID-19 has put the gaming sector ahead by one to two years.

Who are Indian Gamers? And What they are Up to?

To get a deeper understanding of the Indian gaming industry, we need to analyze the number of gamers in India during the year 2020, which is a whopping 365 million. Indian mobile gamer base grew by 12.8% CAGR from 2016 to 2020, and mobile gaming has seen an exceptional growth rate of 89% in the Indian gaming market.

Considering, mobile gaming takes most of the pie in gaming in India. Let’s take a deep dive into demographics & player’s behavior overview to comprehend and analyze who are Indian gamers? And what they are up to?

Demographics overview

Based on Gender: The Gaming Industry is not only considered a man’s world anymore. The number of female gamers in 2016 was only 17%, and in the year 2021, the growth rate has marked 43% increment. The new game releases in the last few years have garnered more interest from women. This could be one of the factors that lead to the growth of the Hyper Casual Games in India.

Based on Age Group: More than 50% of Indian gamers are either 25 years old or above. Further, around 59% of the Indian gamers are from Gen Y, and trailing not far behind is Gen X, constituting 31% of all the gamers, collectively having a share of 90% of all gamers. These numbers show great potential considering more than half of the Indian game enthusiasts fall under the ideal age group to play video games.

Based on Geography

With 85% of mobile users, followed by 11% of PC users and 4% of tablet users in the current year 2021, India is steadily moving towards convincing growth of gamers and the gaming community. Interestingly, when we see gamers distribution across the geographical locations of India, the numbers reveal South India with 29% occupancy tops the table, and Central India with 5% occupancy finds the last position in the table. It’s interesting to see how these number games will play their part in shaping the Indian gaming landscape in the years to come.

Players Behaviour Overview:

In contrast to the demographic details explored in the earlier section, video game players’ behavior is yet another crucial segment to comprehend the Indian gaming industry. We have collected some interesting facts that add fuel to this discussion and give more data points to analyze the Indian gaming market.

· In 2018, players across the globe indulged in gaming for 6.33 hours per week (on average). Whereas Indian players spend 6.35 hours per week

· But due to the onset of the Pandemic in the year 2020, the Indian player engagement in-game has increased by 21% overall and user sessions in the game have increased by 65 %.

Do you know? Numerous factors are contributing to Indian Gaming Industry to help to grow in leaps and bounds!

In this case, it’s imperative to know the factors contributing to growth explosion of gaming in India!

  • Young population demographic
    India’s population is still young, the median age being around 29 years old as compared to the other markets around the globe. This is the biggest factor for the potential growth; that India has in terms of gaming over the next decade as a big chunk of the population is in the ideal age in terms of gameplay.
  • Evolving internet and smartphone penetration
    More than 75% of Indians are using the Internet! The surging development, making way for India to be the second-largest online market in the world with over 560 million internet users. The rise in internet penetration is transforming both major metro cities and tier two/tier-three cities. Thereby boosting the growth explosion of gaming across the nation. On the other hand, smartphones are equally occupied the Indian market with a huge demand for gaming-friendly smartphone features and specifications. Over the years, India’s smartphone penetration has seen substantial growth. During 2020, the smartphone penetration rate was 42% and expected to reach 51% by 2025.
  • Low mobile data charges and the emergence of 5G
    Thanks to the Jio disruption in the Indian telecom market, the overall mobile data charges have decreased substantially, leading to more inexpensive access to the Internet and giving rise to more users being able to access games at an affordable cost. In other words, the forays that are made into the new technology of 5G in the gaming industry have got the overall Indian Gaming Industry excited in terms of a seamless gaming experience without the latency and lag pointing out to more an immersive gaming experience.
  • Social Connect
    The growing need for virtual entertainment with friends, family and peer groups, amplified by the pandemic has channelled users to resort more towards playing games. The rise in popular multi-player games, as well as in-game social media, has facilitated the growth of the gaming industry.
  • Digital consumption becoming mainstream
    The rise in influencers in the gaming community has created more demand for more diverse content.
  • Hyper Casual Games
    These games are essentially easy-to-play games with minimalistic user interfaces. These games can be played endlessly, thereby increasing the addictiveness quotient of the game. Most of these games fall under free-to-play model. A variety of categories are covered under this genre from puzzles, mind teasers, strategy games. The top games in this genre played in India are Ludo King, Subway Surfers, and Candy Crush.
  • Action and Adventure Games
    This is a game genre that combines core elements of both action as well as adventure games. Action Adventure essentially covers various categories such Shooter, Battle Royale, Stealth, and Survival. The most popular games that are played in this category are PubG, Call of Duty Mobile, Free Fire, and Clash Royale to name a few.
  • Online Gambling Games
    This Genre covers a wide category of games from Casino Games, Sports Betting, Card Games, Fantasy Sports, Social Gaming as well as Real Money Games. Major Games across categories are as follows Rummy, Teen Patti, Dream 11, MPL, etc.
  • Sports and Racing Games
    Simulates the practice of sports in gaming including team sports, track, and field, Extreme as well as Combat Sports. The most popular games that are played in this Genre are FIFA, Need for Speed to name a few.

Pinnacle of Game Genres and their dominance in India

It’s the hairline connection of the internet and smartphone that changed the whole course of the gaming market in India. Consequently, various game genres come to life, and their dominance keeps changing as per technology advancement and gamers’ expectations. However, Mobile Gaming and Console Gaming are at the driving seat of the Indian gaming market while making way for many new gaming genres. Currently, Skill-based/Real money gaming and fantasy sports, Action-adventure, and Hyper casual games are donning the top three positions in the market. We have mentioned few potential reasons below that walk us through the crossroad behind why these specific genres have gained popularity.

Reasons for specific game genres gaining traction:

  • Customization and Localization of the games
    A Plethora of new games are coming up and are developed in India, and it’s leading to high customization of the games specific to that geography. Many gaming platforms have started capturing the right trends and tapping into the right consumer sentiments (like Fantasy leagues around IPL or other cricket tournaments and focusing on vernacular games) going the native way. This development underlines the amount of customization taking place in games as well as marketing, which is geographic specific that has permeated the gaming space. Indians have an emotional connection with games such as Rummy, Cricket, and Ludo which appeal to a larger audience, and the Digitization of the homegrown favourites has contributed to the immense growth of these games.
  • Increased Funding and Investments
    The rise in Esports in gaming has contributed to a high rise in prize pools in competitive gaming and sponsors and big companies backing/funding the growth of players, teams, and the gaming ecosystem at large. This increase translates to higher games being developed as well as an immense increase in the number of gamers soon. The sheer explosive growth in is sector has given rise to and opened multiple investment opportunities as well as many acquisitions in the gaming space. From 2014 to 2020, Fantasy Games have raised 180 million in funding which contributes to 59 % of the total funding, secured by gaming start-ups. Top investors such as Sequoia, Blume Ventures, Nazara, Times Internet have placed their bets on gaming companies such as 99 Games, Moonfrog, MPL, Sportskeeda, and 99 games to name a few.
  • The Emergence of Esports and Influencer Gaming
    Glued to these controllers and screens in their quest for more thrills, gamers in India are not just honing their gaming skills but also building communities that share interests, an entrepreneurial spirit, and passion for this rapidly expanding business. The concept of the use of social media to earn money while playing the games you love will give rise and more power to the Influencers in the gaming space and Influencer Marketing would be a selling point while crafting Marketing Plans and Techniques.
  • Release of Key Games in Mobile
    The constant release of flagship console-only games to cater to different platforms like the mobile space has seen immense growth in the mobile gaming dominated market like India, especially in the action-adventure genre. Games such as PubG and Call of Duty have mobile versions which have catered to the immense growth of this genre in India.

Wrapping Up with Key Highlights of the Indian Gaming Industry

Even with the overall rise in the Indian Gaming Industry, there still seem to be hurdles that the gaming industry needs to address.

  • Online Gambling Compliance
    Rise in regulatory bodies to monitor and regularize the entire Indian gaming space. The online gambling sector is still restricted to a great extent in various part of the country and defining skill-based games which entirely does not fall into the category of chance-based gambling which is illegal in India. Forums like All India Gaming Federation and Esports Federation of India are still trying to iron out these terms and help regulate the real money gaming market.
  • 5G & Cloud Gaming
    It would be interesting to see how the improvements in the infrastructure on the 5G front will aid in the growth of the Cloud gaming Industry as a whole.
  • Next step in advancement
    The trend of AR and VR gaining traction throughout the world; however, it needs higher investment in upgraded technology which is on the expensive side for the price-sensitive Indian Audience. It would be interesting to see how companies would cater to this specific challenge without having much of a trade-off on the gaming experience.
  • Future scope
    With the immense growth in the gaming industry, more gaming companies are leveraging the use of technology as well as analytics to address challenges such as the decrease in acquisition cost while trying to optimize the revenue. Considering India still is a price-sensitive audience with a relatively low overall spend as well as high churn, companies are looking for more solutions to optimize the visibility as well as increase ad optimization and formulate and improve the overall monetization strategies specific to India.

From glimpse of Indian gaming industry to key highlights, we have decoded and discussed various touchpoints and their role shaping up the gaming landscape in India. We learned that there is a burgeoning opportunity at the moment, homegrown game developers are introducing new games matching the appetite of Indian gamers. Mobile gaming is dominating the market and many gaming communities are helping gamers to connect and take the Indian gaming landscape to the next level and beyond what India plays.

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