The advent of the online gaming industry in India can be dated back to the early 21st century when PC and console gaming were penetrating the Indian market. The rise in gaming was then facilitated through global games where the Indian development ecosystem primarily acted as a service provider to the international developers. Since the past decade, the Indian gaming industry has taken a leap and is experiencing tremendous growth, thanks to the proliferation of affordable gaming devices and monetization techniques that caters to both developers and gamers in the country.
Hereís a look at the current state of the gaming industry in India and how various monetization techniques like in-app purchases and pay per download are acting as a catalyst in the growth of the sector.††
Indiaís thriving gaming market
According to The Entrepreneur, the gaming industry in India has already attracted $350 million in investment from venture capital firms between 2014 and the first few months of 2020. At present, there are over 400 gaming startups in the country. And with over 500 million smartphone users as of December 2019, mobile gaming has grabbed a bigger piece of the pie by tapping an 85% share of online gaming in India.
India is also among the top five online mobile gaming countries in the world. As per a study by the Federation of Indian Chambers and Industry (FICCI), online gaming in India is expected to rise faster than the global online gaming industry. More than 5.6 billion mobile gaming apps were downloaded in India in 2019, and over 150 million gamers in India play action-based games regularly. Moreover, puzzle video games like Candy Crush and Facebook games such as Criminal Case and Farmville have been a constant source of engagement for many players in India.
Profile of an Indian gamer
According to a report by POKKT, a leading advertising firm in Asia, specific game genres like puzzle, action, and adventure games have experienced the most growth in the Indian market.
Demographics change in India is usually dependent on the genre of games. For instance, male gamers are more inclined toward games featuring Action and Sports games along with other genres. Female gamers, on the other hand, are more skewed towards mentally challenging genres such as Puzzle/Quizzes. Despite the difference in the preference for games, studies have shown that female players usually spend the same amount of time as male gamers in India.
Male gamers above 15 years of age play games for 4-5 sessions, with each session spanning 10-20 minutes. Female users of the same age spend around 8-12 minutes across seven sessions per day.
Most gamers in the country are under the age of 24 years, probably because the demographic is more tech-savvy. However, it doesnít mean that the older age groups are not inclined towards online and mobile games. As per the Mint, itís projected that nearly one-third of the gaming population in India is aged over 35 years.
Gaming in India amid COVID-19 lockdown
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and a subsequent nationwide lockdown, many people have turned to online games to keep themselves engaged. Between the weeks of February and March 2020, visits to online gaming sites and apps experienced a 24% increase, as per the Financial Express. Moreover, the average time spent on gaming sites or apps also rose by 21%.†
Mobile-based gaming platform, Paytm First Games, saw a 200% increase in its users during the initial period of the lockdown. The platform claims to have registered over five million downloads during the lockdown. Also, regional games such as Ludo and Rummy experienced growth of four to five times, and the average time spent on these games also experienced a 71% increase.
As with other online games, gambling-based games have also experienced tremendous growth during the lockdown period. With online gambling platforms, several regular casino players in India found a way to enjoy their favorite casino titles from the comfort of their homes. Classic casino titles such as Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat, and Poker were enjoyed by millions of players in the country. As we read more on Casinomarket.com reports, itís confirmed that Indian favorites like Andar Bahar and Teen Patti also saw a huge spike in user engagement and traffic during the lockdown.
Revenue models in the Indian online gaming sector
Gaming companies in the Indian market employ several strategies to increase engagement and generate revenue. Hereís an overview of the different revenue models of Indian gaming companies:
In this model, games are provided to users free of cost. Here, users get full access to the game as soon as they download it, but advertisements are shown from time to time. So, ads are the major source of revenue for free-to-play games. Also, revenue is generated when users want to access premium features in the game. An apt example of a game that employs this model is Free Fire, where full access is provided to the game from the very start but users need to pay if they want to customize their character or buy items.
Demo and full version
Several gaming studios have been employing this model lately. Here, a demo version of the game is initially released to give the user the taste of the actual game. Users then have the option to pay to get full access of the game.
The freemium model is another popular monetization strategy in the gaming industry. This model provides free services but users need to pay to get access to more advanced features. These games sometimes also include advertisements as a source of revenue for the developers.
In the play-to-win model, users who pay for premium items have an advantage over free gamers. Unlike premium users, free gamers may need to spend a considerable amount of time to unlock the premium items or the features might not be available for them.
Pay to play
In this model, gamers can use real money to buy-in game coins, which allows them to play a certain game. For instance, on rummycircle.com, an online gaming portal for card games, users have the option to use real money to buy chips, which would allow them to try their hands at different games and take part in various tournaments.
Other ways to generate revenue include selling game merchandise, co-branding with the game, and more.
Future of online gaming industry in India
The online gaming industry in India has experienced unprecedented growth in recent times, all thanks to the constant technological improvements and the availability of gaming devices at affordable prices. According to a recent report released by investment banking firm Maple Capital Advisors, the gaming industry in the country is growing at a CAGR of 22%. The report also states that the industry is expected to experience a 41% annual growth due to the rise in stellar gaming content.
This huge untapped potential of the Indian market is poised to bring more investment and business to the country. Also, this will help in creating more career opportunities in the Indian gaming sector. In short, the gaming sector in the country will continue to grow at an unprecedented pace in the coming years.
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