Indepth: The changing dynamics of India’s gaming industry
India is on the road to becoming a gaming superpower. According to industry reports, there are over 400 gaming organisations in India, which is the home to around 420 million online gamers. The gaming industry at present registers a growth rate of 38%. By the year 2025, the gaming industry in India is anticipated to reach $3.9 billion in value. Within the year 2023, the gamers are expected to be more than 450 million in numbers. India is second only to China in terms of the number of online gamers. The lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic further witnessed an increase in the number of online gamers and online gaming in India, with games installed at 7.3 billion in the year 2020, which was the highest in the world.
The mobile gaming industry has evolved over the years. Games are now developed not only for entertainment purposes, but also for skill development, educational and social purposes. For instance, MPL has introduced a game titled ‘MISSING’ to raise awareness about human trafficking.
With the rapid advancement of technology, games have turned out to be more realistic, where the earlier games were built on two dimensional text-based graphics and now have evolved to three dimensional visuals and effects. The evolved technological introductions in gaming allow the players to completely immerse themselves in the gaming world with opportunities for online interactions within the game and go through the immersive storytelling process. Online games allow players to engage with people from various parts of the world. With emerging new games, there are opportunities for learning team work skills and leadership skills. There are emerging technological features in the gaming world now such as voice recognition, gaming consoles that are wearable, striking graphics, facial recognition, controls for gestures, augmented reality, virtual reality, high definition displays. Metaverse is going to revolutionise the gaming industry as well.
The key pillars of the gaming industry
Pratik Patel, Director, Yudiz Solutions, told Adgully, “Technology is one of the four pillars that has elevated the presence of the gaming industry in the global market; the others being creativity, creators, and users. Every innovative technological upgrade has helped us to create state-of-the-art games and interactive entertainment. There are numerous points to consider, but let’s focus on VR, AR, and how game development engines have evolved the gaming industry over the years. Although considering all factual information, we can surely say that our developers are quite capable of pushing their boundaries in terms of visual and technical aspects.”
He further said, “Metaverse is strongly utilising the AR and VR segment and providing the users an opportunity to play more immersive and reciprocal games. Blockchain technology is at the helm of the digital asset sector and provides dedicated collectibles, character skins, digital arts, and much more. Our several projects address the ‘Play to Earn’ model introduced by integrating blockchain and game development efficiently. ‘Unreal Engine 5’ was the latest prodigious development experience by the gaming industry completely reconstructing the game development industry. We as an industry are looking forward to elevating our skills and resources according to the innovative upgrades the current gaming industry is seeing.”
Continuing further, Patel said, “Yudiz has successfully implemented every facet of gamification in several industries. We have expanded our growth and calibrated our percentage bracket where gamification covers 6% of the telecom, education, and financial market. Similarly, the retail and consumer market is estimated at 10%. Lastly, we have made a significant impact through game development in the media and enterprise industry estimated at 18% and 25%, respectively.”
One of the principal growth drivers in the gaming industry is mobile gaming, witnessing a share of 61% of the revenues in the first quarter of 2022. The number of games with Ad monetisation and hybrid IAP has risen from 380 to 403 between 2019 and 2021.
Gaurav Mehta, CMO, Zupee, noted that the mobile gaming revolution began in 2007 and since then, there has been a large shift in the gaming industry, bringing mobile gaming at the forefront of the pop culture. This huge change in attitudes toward video games – especially in Southeast Asia – has not only developed gaming into a more accessible form of entertainment but has pushed it out of the “geek” niche, across all boundaries – age groups, genders, social classes, and cultures.
He said, “The gaming industry today is progressing in India at a rapid pace, thanks to the use of advanced technology, powered by a youthful and tech-savvy populace, affordability and accessibility of smartphones, deeper Internet penetration, and overall technological evolution. The move has additionally accelerated the development of game-centric online businesses that typically offer multiple games to be played at one single web location.”
He further added, “With the evolution of technology and increasingly competitive job market, gaming has appealed to many people as a method of learning and staying competitive in their respective fields. Technological breakthroughs such as virtual reality have added another dimension within the realm of entertainment. Moreover, the gaming industry today has become an increasingly viable career option for many young people, and skill-based games such as ours are becoming better received amongst mainstream gamers.”
India is the second largest home to Internet consumers in the world, with over 560 million Internet users. Users of mobile phone contribute to 85% of the gaming industry in India. According to the World Economic Forum, mobile drives much of the gaming industry growth in India. 4G has further accelerated the growth and 5G will contribute more to that. According to data sources, during the pandemic period, around 45% of the mobile phone users in India have initiated playing games on their smartphones. At the time of presenting the Union Budget in 2022, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had informed about setting up a new task force to look after the demand in animation, visual effects, gaming and comic sector, globally.
According to Jay Sayta, Technology & Gaming Lawyer, “The inclusion of 5G technology will help gamers to embrace cloud gaming and hence, enabling them to enjoy premium gaming experiences anytime, anywhere on their smart devices, without investing in expensive gaming hardware. The Indian online gaming market is on a strong growth path with more than 300 million gamers in the country. The online gaming landscape is about to witness a vast change with the advancement of 5G mobile wireless technology.”
Patel added here, “If we consider a percentage-based bracket of several game development engines utilised by companies, Unity 3D would top the list covering 70% of the game development market, following that we can divide the bracket with 15% with CryEngine and the other 15% J2ME; lastly, 5% of the game development companies efficiently utilise Unreal Engine 4, and only on rare occurrences can you see a company well equipped with game developers who develop games using the Unreal Engine 5 platform.”
According to Gaurav Mehta, online gaming has the power of connecting gamers from all over the world, and the revenue generated by the gaming industry is now largely dominated by mobile gaming. The improved internet speed has allowed players to play games without physically connecting their computers which has led to the massive growth of the sector. It has allowed players from different parts of the world to communicate with each other. Online gaming in India is among the country’s fastest growing industries and is set to receive a lot of investment with the potential to grow to INR 154 billion by 2023. The opportunities are huge and the gaming industry in India is keenly awaiting a regulatory reform, which in turn shall facilitate an influx of large-scale investments.
There are a number of gaming influencers in India as well, for instance Rony Dasgupta, Harnit Khatri, Ajey Nagar, Ankit Panth, Naman Mathur, Rishabh Karanwal and many others. Gaurav Mehta noted, “The Indian gaming industry received a big thrust in the pandemic and finally, it has emerged as a prominent gaming market. India has 481 million online gamers currently and the numbers are expected to rise up to 657 million users by 2025. So, the potential of online gaming and esports cannot be ignored. As esports evolves itself into various business models, non-fungible token (NFT) will be one big trend to watch out for.”
He further added, “It has the potential to bring about an entirely new spectator experience for both major and independent leagues alike. Online/ video games are one of the best uses of NFTs. Gamers here are able to buy in-game items and collectibles that they can use to customize their virtual avatar. Also, one of the key drivers for growth in the industry has been live streaming games and esports. The content creators (or people who make a lot of gameplay videos, etc.) will continue to look into how they can convert these into NFTs so they can generate revenue while also retaining their fan bases/ users.”
Pratik Patel opined, “PC gaming has always been that giant mountain that has not been topped by any other platform, but gradually we are seeing a massive increment in mobile and cloud-based gaming. The reason is simple, cost-effective, less extensive hardware, and faster downloadable content, especially with the advent of cloud technology and 5G for data exchange. We did address the following shift through our extensive research, skill, and experience and we are fully equipped in addressing the market with such mobile game development proficiently.”
Impact of AR, VR, 5G, Metaverse
He further added, “After the pandemic, you must have observed the steady growth of the mobile gaming industry which will continue to succeed. The growth rate of the mobile game industry is supposed to reach 30% by the end of this year and the market size will see tremendous growth of near about $500 billion by 2030. Apart from that AR and VR are the main stepping stones of next-gen gaming. Especially adding the flavour of the metaverse, it will change the way we interact with video games. The statistics mention how effectively it has been advancing towards the next phases of gaming with a CAGR of a massive 75%. We certainly think the combined efforts of blockchain and metaverse can completely change our perspective on immersive gaming which the world is about to witness.”
AR and VR has further revolutionised the gaming industry by giving a real life experience to the gamers in simulated environments. While augmented reality adds to the existing environments with distinctive features, virtual reality makes players have the perception that they are operating from the gaming environment.
Pratik Patel said, “The Gaming industry has incorporated AR and VR to a great capacity now. Gamers can now wear VR headsets to indulge in the immersive gaming world. They are making significant contributions by stimulating the physical presence of the players and users in highly interactive games. The segment has productively covered 40% of the gaming industry and will continue to increase its presence. As we see AR and VR-based technologies have experienced remarkable growth with their market value continuing to expand with a CAGR of 40%. As we have started capitalizing on the segment by establishing our own unique research and development departments for AR and VR-based gaming. As we believe it offers better connectivity, immersiveness, and a limitless world creating opportunities for dedicated users. Our works consist of all the following crucial characteristics where you can build, interact and even make decisions that would eventually impact your progress in the game. It will eliminate many technical barriers that the gaming industry faces and that is the reason it has been widely appreciated by the gaming community.”
According to Gaurav Mehta, augmented Reality and virtual Reality have been playing an important role in the evolution of gaming since their conception. Going forward, we will be able to see how these technologies develop, especially AR as this is where advancement may best be measured in accordance with its numbers and the success they bring to developers. These technologies can be used to represent digital information, making games more attractive while also taking away some of the burden placed on development teams. The main features of these amazing products are known to possess more power than any other product of their kind. They also add a refreshing perspective to how game designers perceive gaming. Advanced video gaming consoles and internet gaming technology have made gameplay much more enjoyable than usual.
After the ban of PUBG Mobile in India, the BGMI has been declared as banned in India, only a year after it was launched in the country. BGMI was delisted from the Apple and Google play stores after orders from the government. Under Section 69A of the IT Act, BGMI has been banned by the government.
Shivam Rao, Co-Founder, Trinity Gaming India, remarked, “The ban of BGMI is very unfortunate for the gaming community. It will impact the livelihoods and income of gamers and the esports talent in the industry. Many skilled gamers have left their families, homes and traditional jobs to build and pursue their careers as professionals. Such a ban will make their future and careers uncertain.”
He added, “As the marketing partners for BGMI we were pleased to notice the positive outcome in the industry with the birth of BGMI last year. But now, with this ban the options for players and gamers reduce drastically. If the ban decision holds, we will probably see a decline in the number of gamers and its communities across India. Meanwhile, this decision has come when India is going to debut in the Commonwealth Games at Birmingham, UK. It will certainly impact discussions and participation of gamers and the overall Indian esports ecosystem. While we appreciate policy and regulation and accept the government’s decision, we hope that the sentiments of the youth, gamers and the esports industry overall is managed.”
“The government has not clarified it’s stand, but such kind of knee jerk bans dampen investor sentiments and take India behind in its goal to become an esports hub. India has nearly over 500 million mobile users and stands second in terms of smartphone users in the world after China. In recent years, we witnessed the revolution and advancement in technology in the smartphone manufacturing sector, which created massive impact on the users. News, entertainment and sports are the core content in terms of usage. However, in the past couple of years, especially during the pandemic, the online and mobile gaming industry has seen tremendous growth while the sector is booming in terms of content consumption and usability. The reason behind the same are that the smartphones are becoming affordable and internet service providers are offering economical data plans. More numbers of consumers each day are upgrading their phones and Internet speed for consuming the content of their interest with better quality,” said Jay Sayta.