Gaming in India is seeing a massive spurt in popularity and investment, making computer hardware companies rush to expand their respective shares in this segment by making hardware accessible to a wider demographic. This push is being led by laptops which are now displacing desktops as the primary mode of gaming. Computer brands are trying to make gaming laptops more accessible by reducing their prices, offering attractive deals on them and strengthening their gaming product portfolio. E-commerce platforms such as Flipkart and Amazon have made separate exclusive sections on their websites focusing on games and gaming hardware. Manufacturers such as Dell, Acer, Asus market their gaming products under separate brands or subsidiaries with visually stunning websites.
Gaming laptops have traditionally been a luxury with prices crossing Rs 1 lakh. Now, gaming laptops starting from Rs 65,000 are available. Vamsi Krishna, consumer marketing head, South Asia, Nvidia, a major graphics processor manufacturer in the industry, pointed towards ‘Dell gaming’, an entry-level gaming solution catering towards casual gamers who need better performance on their notebooks. He said other manufacturers were also expanding on this price point.
Arnold Su, business development manager, PC and gaming, Asus India, said, “You don’t necessarily need the high-end graphics processors to play games. We have laptops in the more affordable range of Rs 70,000-Rs 80,000 with good performance.” He said that these models are targeted towards casual gamers. Asus primarily sells gaming hardware from its brand, ‘Republic of Gamers’.
Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO and consumer business head, Acer India said, “What is happening in the market is, desktops are being taken over by advanced notebooks, which offer the same performance or better and you can carry it anywhere with you.”
Krishna also mirrored Panigrahi’s views. “Many gamers prefer desktop graphics because of the performance but with our technology, there is virtually no performance gap between desktop and notebook. We saw a significant growth in gaming notebooks in the country in the last 18 months.” He added that the gaming notebook market today is double that of last year. David Chu, country product manager, Asus India, echoed this highlighting that the company is seeing triple growth year-on-year for its gaming notebooks.
Acer currently has two main series in the gaming sector, the Predator series, aimed at professional and advanced gamers and the Nitro series, focused on casual gamers. Both the series have many models under them and Panigrahi explains, “there is no one size fits all in devices and that’s the reason for this specific categorisation of the products.”
This strategy is being implemented by all the companies in this segment. Both the Taiwanese multinationals have also developed headphones, mouse, mouse pads specifically designed for gamers. Additionally, Republic of Gamers has its own phone and Acer is developing a chair specifically for gamers.
These aggressive moves follow recent trends indicating that gaming has not only become socially acceptable in India but also a possible career path. Kiran Noojibail, who is in-charge of e-sports and broadcasting at League of Extraordinary Gamers(LXG) in Bangalore, one of the most popular gaming arenas in India, said some major e-sports events in India have cash prizes of over Rs 3.5 crore. He also says there has been an increase in the number of e-sports competitions in India.
LXG also organises the Zowie Extremeslands India qualifier, where the winner gets an all-expense paid trip to represent India in the Zowie Extremesland Asia finals in Shanghai, where the cash prize is $100,000. Nvidia has an event called ‘Gamer Connect’, where players can access the latest games and hardware. A KPMG report estimates the Indian online gaming industry at $290 million and reaching Rs 1 billion by 2021 with 190 million new gamers. The report also says that nearly 60% of gamers in India are below the age of 24.