Success can occasionally come from unexpected places. Uninvited and unrecognized, people sometimes write their own success stories for the country, sailing under the gaze of those who are paid and trained to look out for such things.
India currently holds a dominant position in the global gaming industry, both as a consumer and a creator of games. Up until five years ago, annual surveys of the Indian media and entertainment sector focused on the standard suspects, such as movies, TV, print media, books, electronic media, advertising, etc. They hardly ever addressed gaming. Then there was the mobile phone boom. Five years ago, when the magic number of mobile phone users reached one billion, it gave Indian people an Agni Astra, a tremendous combination of power and pleasure. A useful tool for basic communication and financial transactions that also acted as a fun “time-pass” activity.
From the early TickTackToe and Prince of Persia clones to a plethora of visually attractive and aurally arresting games that span several cultures and customs, those casual games have developed at an incredible rate: Pokemon and Balle Baaz comfortably coexist with Teen Patti and Angry Birds. Personal and professional games span a variety of genres beyond mobile ones. Other gaming platforms include PC (laptop and desktop), consoles (such as Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony’s Playstation, and Nintendo’s Switch), and cloud-based Internet gaming.
Gaming on PCs Continues to Thrive
Hardcore professional competitive gamers typically use their laptops or desktops, which has resulted in highly prized hardware product sub-categories from leading makers. For example, platforms from Asus under the Republic of Gamers or RoG brand, Dell under the Alienware or HP under the Omen brand typically cost much more than the professional platforms from the same companies. According to the HP India Gaming Landscape Report 2021–22, a survey found that 89% of participants thought a PC provided a superior gaming experience to a smartphone and that 41% of mobile gamers would switch to a PC if they could. The fact that professional gaming is widely seen as a realistic career option among India’s Gen Z (18–24) and millennials (25–40) may make this look like a self-serving conclusion, but in this niche, a mobile phone is not the proper platform.
Popular console games like Warcraft and Call of Duty have been added to Microsoft’s lineup as a result of its earlier year acquisition of Activision; this will support and grow the Playstation market. Microsoft acquired one of the all-time top mobile games, Candy Crush, along with the Activision deal. This is extremely advantageous given that mobile games still account for 95% of the overall gaming market. India is also the largest gaming market in the world for mobile devices. According to the India Mobile Market Spotlight 2021 research, users in India downloaded 4.8 billion games on their phones in 2021, accounting for every fifth game downloaded globally.
The free-to-play game LudoKing, created by the Indian studio Gametion Technologies, received the most downloads from users. The ancient Indian game of Pachisi (Hindi for “25”), also known as Chaupad and famously played by the Pandavas and Kauravas in the Mahabharata, served as the inspiration for the modern game of ludo. Only 7.6% of the mobile games that Indians play are Made in India, which is an interesting exception. The EY-FICCI report “Tuning into Consumer: India Media & Entertainment” from March 2022 provides more information on the games that Indians enjoy playing.
The development of indigenous alternatives has been sparked by the government’s restrictions on some Made-in-China games (such as PUBG and Free Fire). Indians are reportedly prepared to play and pay for games created in India right now, according to a Redseer survey that was cited in the FICCI report. Due to this, the creation of new games with roots in Indian slang and culture has exploded, all the while maintaining the vibrancy and colour of “imported” games.
A recent example is the video game “Kurukshetra: Ascension.”
A Significant Number of Female Gamers
The large percentage of female players in India’s mobile gaming market is an intriguing aspect of the country’s industry; this trend emerged during the long months that residents spent indoors owing to the Covid shutdowns. According to the Mobile Marketing Handbook, India published by InMobi, 49% of Indian women began playing during the pandemic. In India now, 43% of mobile gamers are women, and 49% of them are 34 years of age or older. They play mobile games for an average of 53 minutes every day – it’s their “me time.” The national balance sheet may benefit from all of this. According to research released in November 2021 by analysts Sequoia and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), mobile gaming would be a $ 5 billion+ market in India by 2025, up from $ 1.5 billion in 2018.
Indian gaming is still far less popular than it is in the other two major markets. It only makes up 1% of the global market, compared to China’s 26% and the US’s 28. 23%. The Indian gaming business is blasting away at 38%, which intrigues industry observers because the growth rate in the other two heavyweights is essentially flat at between 8% and 10%. The introduction of 5G technology to the market, according to the PwC India Report on Media and Entertainment 2022, will be a significant enabler. India, behind Turkey and Pakistan, is the country with the third-fastest growth in the global video game market. In comparison to BCG-Sequoia, PwC projects a significantly slower annual growth rate for the Indian gaming industry: 18.3-20.6%, according to the sector.
The Indian government knows a good idea when it sees one, which is why it unveiled a Digital Gaming Research Initiative in April this year. The initiative, run by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), aims to promote Indian culture while assisting in the development of cutting-edge technologies for immersive gaming experiences. Some Indian game developers have responded to this by announcing titles with an Indian theme, such as Fau-G Fearless, United Guards, or Indus Battle Royale. The latter has created a new term called “Indo Futurism” to describe Supergaming’s futuristic take on Indian culture for gamers everywhere!
Regulatory Obstacles Cleared
On the regulatory front, there has been some uncertainty, which has resulted in unavoidable snags in certain states that hurried to outlaw some games like rummy and fantasy sports on the basis that they were games of chance rather than skill and a type of gambling. Following in the lead of this ban-making frenzy were Kerala and Karnataka. The industry had to challenge the classification in each instance, and the high courts in each case reversed the bans. Rajasthan, Mumbai, Punjab, and Haryana state courts were among the others to follow suit. Currently, the Supreme Court has recognised fantasy sports as games of skill since a case concerning Dream 11 a year ago. With these barriers gone, Indian gamers may now enjoy what is quickly becoming their favourite mobile activity. Wall-to-wall gaming is appropriate when there are no e-mails to check, YouTube videos to watch, Facebook postings to respond to, WhatsApp messages to scan, or micro-banking to complete.
Free time-killer games are not enjoyed by all Indians. More people are getting into transaction-based games or playing for real money. The two most common transaction games are rummy and poker, which together brought in Rs 72 billion in revenue in 2021. Another well-liked category is fantasy sports, which experience a surge whenever related real game events, such as football, hockey, cricket, or Kabaddi, take place. Popular games include MPL (Mobile Premier League), Dream11, and Cricplay.