Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Digital gaming’s next boomtown address is in India

The booming opportunity in digital gaming has prompted investors and companies to keep a keen eye on India and be a part of the next big game that's about to sweep the market

The gaming industry in India has come a long way since the early 2000s, with the so-called “Boomtown for Digital Gaming" all set to reach, or even surpass, the $1 billion market by 2020. While the global gaming industry grossed over a staggering $108 billion in 2017, the India market was pegged at $890 million and it is expected to continue its golden run. The booming opportunity in digital gaming has prompted investors and companies to keep a keen eye on India and be a part of the next big game that’s about to sweep the market.

Billion-Dollar Opportunity

While a billion-dollar market is what it is referred to, investors, marketers, advertisers and gaming companies are aware that digital gaming is a likely $1-trillion market in the making. According to a report India’s Trillion Dollar Digital Opportunity by McKinsey and Co., in 2017, India has over 7.7 billion app downloads, next only to China. This huge user base has opened up ample opportunities for all kinds of games and apps.

A significant reason behind India reaching new heights is the internet adoption and affordability of smartphones. India’s digital adoption growth rate of 56% is second only to Indonesia among 17 major digital economies.

New gaming technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and console gaming are being adopted by gamers and gaming companies alike. These technologies are not only making an impact in the gaming industry, but in sectors like education and health care as well.

In 2016, one game that took Indian gamers by storm even before its launch was Pokémon GO—an AR game that currently has over 100 million downloads worldwide. This basically underscored the immense opportunity that companies had if they released games in India as part of their strategy. Consider this. India had 198 million mobile gamers in 2015, and this number is expected to grow to 628 million gamers on multiple portable devices by 2020.

Out of close to 15 million PC and console gamers in the country, two million are e-sports gamers and nearly 1000 are pro gamers in India—making PC and console gaming the next step in the evolution of a gamer’s life cycle.

New Careers

Affordable internet connectivity, smartphone penetration, power of data, better economics for gaming companies and emergence of e-sports that augments gaming for professional gamers is creating new monetization avenues in gaming. The thrill of gaming further augmented with social media gives rise to this phenomenon called e-sports. Gamers here, compete and play games on a competitive level against other teams professionally while millions of users watch the teams battle it out in another world.

With the increasing popularity of e-sports, gaming companies are looking to spot talented gamers with excellent skill at games to represent them at global events. Just like any other sport, e-sports also needs practice, training, team balance and communication. The skills required involve brilliant hand-eye coordination and strategic thinking.

Over the last two years, gaming has hit new heights globally and in India with games allowing players to stream their games on YouTube or Twitch, and post scores and statistics on social media platforms. This has resulted in millions of users discovering the thrill of watching professional gamers.

With gaming being increasingly accepted, more and more gamers are looking to take it up professionally as a career, thus expanding the digital gaming landscape. Furthermore, e-sports can garner a lot of visibility for companies to advertise, with about two million e-sports viewers in India and which is expected to grow five times by 2021.

An increased focus on the local development of games, large volume of users and rising potential of monetization implies that gaming has the potential to emerge as a significant sector creating jobs for thousands of millennials who can join the creative workplace. Moreover, there are a variety of courses that have emerged with the increasing popularity of gaming in India. Further, college students can organize and conduct game championship tournaments for gaming companies on their campuses for extra income.

Clearly, the gaming industry is far more evolved from the time when a lot of us were growing up.

Rajan Navani is vice-chairman and MD of gaming company, JetSynthesys—part of the JetLine Group

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