With smartphone usage at an all-time high and with constant new technological improvements in many areas, mobile gaming has never been so easy, convenient, and affordable for users.
According to a report by The Power of Mobile Gaming in India’ released by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and Kantar IMRB in association POKKT, India features among the five biggest mobile gaming markets in the world. The mobile gaming industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world especially in India. Within the past few years, mobile games have become the entertainment of choice for people from all walks of life and across all demographics, as well as the option to have a career within the gaming industry,
Statista has estimated the mobile gaming market in India will be worth about 2.4 billion dollars in 2020, up from 600 million dollars in 2017. The popularity of mobile gaming is surging in India with three out of four Indian players enjoying mobile games minimum twice a day. Mobile gamers in India typically spend over an hour on their device each day – this is higher than the average of around forty-five minutes a day that is spent on video services like Netflix viewership. Various estimates place the mobile gaming revenue for 2020 somewhere around the $1 billion mark.
Mattias Bergehed CEO and founder of ENV Media says, “The amount of searches for mobile games have literally skyrocketed during the past 6 months. Indian players seem to prefer to play local table games such as Andar Bahar directly from their phone, instead of using traditional devices such as tablets or desktops.’’
There are many components playing into the current state of mobile gaming, which combined has created a rare situation in the global digital entertainment climate. Taking a look at the most prominent of the elements individually, we want to examine why mobile gaming is such a great fit for India, and why this form of gaming is at the forefront of the next generation.
Profile of a Indian Mobile Gamer
In the year 2018, Indians spent 6.92 hours of power week on gaming, the global average has been 7.11 hours per week. The younger audience of between 26-45 years are driving the growth at around 25%, followed by the older audiences. It is projected that nearly one-third of the gaming population is aged over 35 years in India.
The Kantar IMRB report has explored the profile of mobile gamers in depth. Traditionally the gaming sector has been dominated by men, however female gamers are now equally inclined to invest in gaming as entertainment. Even though gamers prefer to play games from multiple genres, male gamers are more skewed towards adrenaline packed games featuring Action/Adventure and Racing/Sports games along with other genres. Female gamers on the other hand are more inclined towards mentally stimulating games such as Puzzle/Quizzes. Females (at 79%) are more inclined to spend money on mobile games through in-app purchases. Male users over 15 years of age, spend 10-20 minutes per session playing mobile games per day across 4-5 sessions, females of the same age, including mothers, will play for about 8-12 minutes per session across seven sessions per day.
Mobile gamers tend to seek out new experiences and game play through new games via Google Play Store, indicating that gamers do wait for reviews and feedback from friends/family to try out new games. Social media is the next medium through which gamers learn about new games. Advertisements and recommendations are of secondary importance to gamers when it comes to learning about new games.
● India is a ‘mobile-first’ country – When people are online they usually do so via a mobile device, making it the primary way of accessing the internet.
● Portability - mobile phones offer the option to play anytime, anywhere due to being portable, making gaming more available on the go.
● Better and cheaper phone data - Consumers use 5 times more data per day when compared to previous years which might correlate to how mobile network providers have improved connectivity speeds over the last few years, providing more efficient high-speed data networks and offering cheaper data packages to individuals
● Better and less expensive phones - Purchasing a mobile phone nowadays is way more accessible and cheaper, even for phones with a larger screen size. Modern phone displays have also managed to reach refresh rates of 120 Hz, while at the same time offering vivid display technologies such as HDR10, which allow for games to run at FHD+ and QHD+ resolution with super-sharp textures.
● Better graphics - Games on mobile platforms nowadays look increasingly realistic featuring ‘console-like’ graphics, gameplay mechanics and increased compatibility of games with mobile screens. This is due to multi-point touch screens, creating cutthroat and complex, enhancing gameplay like never seen before on a handheld device. Advancements in the GPU have truly unlocked the potential of the mobile gaming market, allowing AAA titles to make better entry as well.
● A growth in average income - Individuals are earning around 1.6 times more across India, therefore having more disposable income, resulting in consumers shifting to more aspirational consumption patterns for things such as leisure and entertainment. Such spending is anticipated to more than double by 2025.
● Many different game and app options - Due to a high demand for mobile games, developers are constantly trying to come up with new more innovative games for players. The options nowadays are endless ranging from puzzle games such as Candy Crush, fantasy sports apps such as Dream11 and skill games like rummy. Game options that are harder to access such as games of chance like casino slots, roulette, blackjack, andar bahar and more are easier to access online through foreign apps and sites, as currently India has no set laws when it comes to online gaming.
● New and reliable payment platforms - With the rise of e-commerce and online payments, companies are rolling out more effective and secure online payment solutions which cater to a wider audience and different player needs such as e-wallets, carrier billing and pre-paid cards, which are extremely popular in the leading gaming economies. Options such as Google Pay or Paytm already gained traction in India. Of course each method has its own advantages and disadvantages.
● Free Games offering premium features - India is a value seeking and price sensitive gaming market, with most mobile gamers searching and playing free alternatives. By taking advantage of this developers tend to focus more on creating free-to-play apps which then become monetized through the option of purchasing virtual goods and premium features.
Monetization strategies in mobile gaming
There are several strategies that gaming companies adopt to engage gamers and earn revenue. Here are some of the different strategies that mobile gaming companies apply:
Free-to-play games are available for downloading free of cost. Advertisements are the main source of revenue for such free to play gaming models in this model, as users get to access the full game from the beginning, but ads are shown from time to time. Excess advertisements within the game can be annoying to users but this model serves as one way to earn revenue. Puzzle games often showcase ads whenever a user clears one level and jumps to the next. In PUBG, a user can watch ads to earn extra battle coins, which can be used to purchase in-game items.
Demo and full version
Game studios often release a free trial or limited (demo) version of their game to give a taste and get the audience hooked on the actual game. Users can then pay to unlock the entire game, as they can tend to be much more willing to purchase the game or make in-app purchases once they get a free test run and of course enjoy the game.
The freemium model is one of the most popular amongst gamers which basically provides free of charge services but money is charged for advanced features. Therefore developers release the core functionality of the game to download and play for free, while upgrades and additional content is made available for a price through in-app purchases. Freemium games sometimes also implement advertisements as a revenue stream for the developers.
In this model, gamers who pay extra for premium items receive an advantage over free gamers. Free gamers instead may need to spend considerable time to unlock these premium items or they might only be available through purchasing.
Pay to play
With Pay to play, gamers can use actual money to buy in-game coins, which enables them to play a certain game. On adda52.com, an online card gaming portal, users can use actual money to buy chips, which would allow them to play paid games and tournaments. This also applies to games where players use actual money to purchase specific items within the game such as skins, equipment etc…
Other ways to make revenue include co-branding within the game and selling game merchandise, such as keychains, t-shirts, posters, etc. in the market. Electronics and hardware manufacturer Asus’ gaming brand, ROG, has partnered with Tencent to create gaming content for its ROG Phone 2.
It’s clear that India’s mobile gaming industry is booming and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. With smartphone use at an all-time high and with constant new technological improvements in many areas, mobile gaming has never been so easy, convenient, and affordable for users. This has brought forward a more lucrative golden era for app developers which in turn has also helped to create more gaming investment opportunities within India both from foreign and local business. This in turn helps to create even more opportunities for jobs and careers within the Indian gaming sector. The opportunity is ready for the taking, with mobile gaming trends telling the story of what’s to come in this rapidly growing market that is definitely not going to diminish anytime soon.
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