Revealed! India is digital gaming’s best kept secret, to have over 300 million digital gamers by 2021

Published: October 19, 2018 1:47 AM

Gaming, as an industry, has enormous potential that gaming companies, advertisers, retailers and promoters are looking to make the most of.

digital games, indiaFrom games as simple as Candy Crush and Ludo to midcore ones like Sachin Saga played on smartphones to PUBG, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike played by hardcore gamers, a gaming revolution is on in India. (Reuters)

The global gaming industry grossed a staggering $108 billion in 2017, and the market in India—at $890 million—is expected to grow at a quick rate (it currently forms less than 1% of the global market). With increasing popularity and adoption of gaming especially amongst the new generation, the opportunity in digital gaming has prompted investors and companies to keep a keen eye on the sector.

Gaming, as an industry, has enormous potential that gaming companies, advertisers, retailers and promoters are looking to make the most of. Affordable internet connectivity, smartphone penetration, power of data, emergence of eSports that augments gaming for professional gamers, and better economics for gaming companies are creating new monetisation avenues in gaming.

Over the last two years, the popularity of gaming has soared, with millions of users watching professional gamers game on large screens—people today are willing to pay to watch gamers, and eSports has the potential for advertisements to capture the eyeballs of about 2 million eSports viewers in India; a market that is expected to grow five times by 2021. Gamers are also taking it up professionally as a career, thus expanding the digital gaming landscape.

An increased focus on local development of games, large volume of users and rising potential of monetisation means gaming can emerge as a significant sector, creating jobs for thousands of millennials who can join the creative workplace—there are also a variety of courses that have emerged on gaming. Today, college students can intern at gaming companies or even organise and conduct game championship tournaments on their campuses. This is turning out to be the next avenue for event management firms as well.

While a billion-dollar market is what is being spoken of, investors, marketers, advertisers and gaming companies are aware that digital gaming is a trillion-dollar market in the making. According to the 2017 report “India’s Trillion Dollar Digital Opportunity” by McKinsey, India has over 7.7 billion app downloads, second only to China. A user base of such size has created and opened ample opportunities, beyond imagination, for all kinds of games and apps. By 2021, the average data consumption of Indians will reach 7 GB per person, a quantum jump from the 1 GB per person in 2016. Also, the number of gamers is expected to cross 300 million by 2021, helped by the increasing affordability of smartphones. In fact, India’s digital gaming adoption growth rate of 56% is second only to Indonesia (among 17 major digital economies). New gaming technologies like AR, VR and console gaming are being adopted—these are not only making an impact in the gaming industry, but also in sectors like education and healthcare.

Pokémon GO, an augmented reality game released in 2016, took Indian gamers by storm even before its launch. A delayed release might have resulted in a loss of potential revenue considering how the game went viral through off-the-store sources. It currently has over 100 million downloads worldwide. This brought to the light the immense opportunity that companies would have if they released games in India as part of their launch strategy.

From games as simple as Candy Crush and Ludo to midcore ones like Sachin Saga played on smartphones to PUBG, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike played by hardcore gamers, a gaming revolution is on in India. The country had over 198 million mobile gamers in 2015, and this number is expected to grow to 628 million gamers on multiple portable devices by 2020. And of the 15 million PC and console gamers in the country, 2 million are eSports gamers and nearly 1,000 are professional gamers—making PC and console gaming a parallel growth step in the evolution of a gamer’s life cycle.

By Rajan Navani. The author is Vice-Chairman & MD, JetSynthesys.

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