The burgeoning economy of India has always been quick to pick on global market trends from around the world. The global gaming industry witnessed an unprecedented rise in the past decade, thanks to major developments in the U.S. and Europe, and was evaluated at $100 billion in 2016. India’s own gaming industry, on the other hand, accounted for only $550 million – comprising less than 0.6% of global market share. However, it witnessed a 60% increase in 2017, and according to the Minister of State for Electronics and IT, PP Chaudhary, is expected to become a billion dollar industry by 2020.
So why exactly has the gaming industry witnessed a sudden surge in India? The answer lies in the prevalence of the most commonly used gaming platform – smartphones. India currently has over 530 million smartphone users, and the user base is expanding at a fast rate. Coupled with an increased penetration of internet into middle-class society, India ranked among the top five countries for mobile game downloads in 2017. The average data consumption is also projected to increase by a factor of five in 2021 as compared to 2016, and a majority of that could be used for playing games online.
As the average income of the middle-class Indian youth increases, so does their disposable income. For this alienated group, playing video games has become the preferred mode of survival in the digitized world. As the growing trend of gamers invests more money to purchase games, it contributes to the industry’s revenue.
The rise of smartphone gaming is also responsible for turning gamers towards PC games, as they provide a richer and more immersive experience. The change in gaming preference is supported by the fact that prices of gaming laptops have reduced by 50% in the past few years. This has resulted in the increase of active gamers in the country from 60,000 in 2014 to over 35 lakhs at present – as most active gamers indulge in PC games.
India is also on the path to becoming a major hub for game development. The number of game developers in the country has increased tenfold in the last 5 years and is currently around 250. A majority of these developers focus on building smartphone games for the consumption of the intermittent gamer. In January 2018, Paytm and AGTech Holdings launched Gamepind, a gaming platform that offers social and casual games, with an incentive for the gamer to earn coupons. Backed by a youth-dominated IT talent pool consisting of skilled game developers, global gaming studios are outsourcing game development to India. The world’s largest gaming firm, Tancent, plans on investing $200 million in Indian gaming landscape in 2018.
The upsurge of the gaming industry has also seen the advent of gaming tournaments throughout the country. As the number of active gamers is on the rise, the Electronic Sports League (ESL) has focused on organizing Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CS-GO) and DOTA 2 tournaments with a prize pool of $150,000. Such tournaments are common throughout the world, and their occurrence in India is a testament to the growing industry in the country.
India has previously shown tremendous initiative to indulge in Augmented Reality (AR) based games, ranking 4th in the world for the number of downloads of the AR-based game, Pokemon Go. The rise in market share of Xbox, PS4 and other gaming consoles have ensured that Virtual Reality games are set to enter the Indian scene in the near future. The advent of new platforms will not only propel the growth of the gaming industry but will encourage its citizens to take up gaming as a full-time career. One of India’s top gamers, Ankit ‘V3nom’Panth, says, “A gamer has got an opportunity to enter a space where earlier only celebrities and cricketers were allowed.”