The gaming industry in India has undergone explosive growth in 2020. Gaming has been growing steadily across the country for a few years now and this year has seen its development leap by 30% when compared to 2019. India now holds a top-five position in the global gaming industry and is poised to hit the $1 billion mark by the end of 2021.
Unlike other leading global markets, however, the makeup of the Indian market is quite unique. The console genre has typically dominated and accelerated the growth of markets in the US and Western Europe, but in the burgeoning Indian industry, it’s yet to have a significant impact. Instead, Indian gamers are choosing more accessible, fully remote ways to play games.
Let’s take a closer look at these powerful new gaming markets.
Mobile is brewing up a storm
India’s strong position in the gaming industry has been largely achieved through the mass appeal of mobile gaming. Driven by an array of gaming genres and player personas, there are now over 20,000 mobile games accessible to the Indian gaming audience, ranging from the serious to the hyper-casual. In fact, India has already overtaken the US to become the second-largest mobile gaming app download market in the world, having generated as many as 5 billion installs to date.
In 2019, it was the causal gaming apps like King’s Candy Crush Saga that took the lion’s share of the market – 33%. Meanwhile, action games and arcade titles accounted for 25% and 28% of the market respectively. With gamers of all backgrounds now championing regional manufacturers like MediaTek (68% of mobile gamers prefer the chipset to Apple), there’s been a significant shift towards paid gaming apps.
According to a report compiled by CMR, 67% of mobile gamers in India are now playing Call of Duty: Mobile on a regular basis, followed by the popular battle royale games Garena Free Fire (54%), Fortnite (36%) and Battlelands Royale (34%).
iGaming is making mainstream waves
A natural development on the fantasy sports sector, which has been a popular gaming vertical in India for many years now, real money gaming is becoming more and more mainstream.
Driving the surge in interest are online gaming platforms like PokerStars India, which specialises in online poker and works directly with India’s poker pros to grow and promote the mindsport in the country. As well as offering an array of games, tournaments, and competitions, these platforms are a hub of resources and information, providing everything from the mechanics and how to get started with games like poker to strategy development.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the fantasy sports sector has decreased in popularity in 2020 – quite the opposite. New user registrations have surged for genres like Fantasy Cricket by as much as 200% during 2020, with mobile app platforms in the market registering as many as 90 million downloads during the first two quarters alone.
eSports is not to be underestimated
In the gaming industry as a whole, the eSports sector is very much the new kid on the block. This professional arm of the gaming industry may be the youngest market in India, but that doesn’t mean it should be underestimated. A total of 59% of serious gamers and 37% of occasional gamers now participate in competitive gaming tournaments and contests.
Gaming usage has increased in the country by 20 to 50% during Q2 of 2020, for eSports developers and operators, this has translated to as many as 500,000 daily visits. Some homegrown platforms and apps such as Loco have experienced month on month growth of 122% amongst active gaming streamers, with over 1000 hours of live eSports content being streamed daily.
Factors driving gaming markets in India
One of the strongest factors affecting the growth of gaming in India has been the accelerating of mobile technology. Affordable smartphone distribution combined with massive developments in the quality of wireless technology across the country means that smartphone usage is now at an all-time high, with almost 630 million people owning a smartphone. Mobiles are now used as pocket computers, providing Indians with a convenient and effective way to work, learn, communicate, and play on the go – mobile gaming has never been more affordable.
There’s also been a sizeable chunk of investment poured into Indian gaming markets, by both regional investors and international companies. As well as investors from Japan, South Korea, Finland, and the US, local venture capitalists like Lumikai have launched investment funds into gaming and technology on a country-wide basis.
Gaming in India is now at a global inflecton point, empowering the region to become a major player in the global gaming industry for many years to come.