The mobile gaming industry has recorded a new high score since the lockdown, which has been effective from March 24. According to a report by InMobi, usage of mobile gaming apps has grown by 110% since then. Gaming app Ludo King claims its daily active users have gone up to 50 million, from 15 million when the lockdown started; while Paytm First Games has seen its userbase more than double; and multi-gaming app WinZO Games is seeing a 30% growth in traffic every day.
It should be noted that even before the lockdown, online gaming has been on a growth trajectory in India. As per a recent FICCI-EY report, the industry was worth Rs 4,600 crore in 2018, and is estimated to reach Rs 18,700 crore by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 43%. The current situation, of course, gives the industry a fillip.
Although gaming apps are typically popular among the young demographic (18-35), highly skewed towards men, the lockdown has seen consumers across age groups playing.
“In the last four weeks, we have seen that 16% of the users on our platform are above 35; while the percentage of women users has risen from less than 10% to 14% now,” says Sudhanshu Gupta, COO, Paytm First Games.
WinZO, meanwhile, has seen a 40% increase in the number of women players on its app. The time being spent on these apps has gone up, with players playing even during the day, unlike before. “Earlier, the average time being spent on our app by a user was 35 minutes, but it has gone up to 45 minutes now,” says Vikash Jaiswal, founder and director of Gametion Technologies, which owns the Ludo King app.
Gaming platforms are leveraging this surge in usage by adding more games. WinZO Games, for example, has tied up with Tencent Games to introduce PUBG on its app.
“Our target audience comes from tier II-V cities, but in recent weeks, we have witnessed increased interest from tier I cities, too. Therefore, we have introduced games such as PUBG and 8 Ball Pool to provide relevant content for this new set of audience,” says Saumya Singh Rathore, co-founder, WinZO Games.
Paytm First Games, which was expecting an uptake in fantasy cricket games during the IPL, has had to restrategise, since the cricketing event has been cancelled. “Our in-house developers and gaming partners quickly developed cooking games, pool games, ludo, etc. We see about 2-2.5 lakh people play Ludo on our platform every day,” adds Gupta.
The buzz around gaming may fizzle out as the lockdown period gets over, but, experts say, it will be a win for these mobile gaming apps. “Even if the number of users coming to these apps see a drop of 30-40% after the lockdown ends, it will still be much higher — almost double — than earlier,” says Ajay Gupta, partner – digital transformation, Kearney.
In the short term, monetisation remains a challenge for these apps as most brands have downscaled advertising. Paytm First Games has seen a drop of 30-40% in effective cost per mille or eCPM. But in-app purchases, which are the transactions made by users while playing either to buy tickets or bonus points, have gone up. Paytm First Games has seen a growth of 60% in its in-app purchases, WinZO has witnessed a 20% surge, while Ludo King has seen a 25% jump.
To continue growing, Gupta says, these apps will have to strengthen their ad networks, get into product partnerships or co-branding, and not stick to one method of generating revenue.