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India’s tier-III cities and towns have witnessed a significant rise in the number of online gamers in 2021, according to the India Mobile Gaming Report 2021 (IMGR) by Mobile Premier League (MPL), an esports and skill gaming platform. The top 30 of them reported up to 170% more gamers compared to 2020. Some of the small towns have more than 100% to up to 200% growth in online gamers. 

Baimanagoi (Chhattisgarh), Siwan (Bihar) and Sri Ganganagar (Rajasthan) witnessed 179%, 123% and 52% growth in number of gamers respectively. Small cities such as Alwar (Rajasthan), Muzaffarpur (Bihar), Dhanbad (Jharkhand), Palanpur ( Gujarat) saw an impressive rise in the number of new gamers. Interestingly, while these states do not have any major cities that are known to be a gaming hub, the growing popularity of mobile gaming in these locations has been a very impressive trend.

Carrom, Fruit Dart, Fruit Chop, Runner No.1 and Block Puzzle were some of the top games that were played across different Indian cities as per IMGR 2021. 

Mobile esports like Chess and Pool also witnessed a sharp rise in the number of gamers in the country as the MPL platform alone registered 1.3 million esports players in 2021. While nearly half a million games were played on the platform, it recorded 17 million live viewership.     

Numerous research reports suggest that increased availability of affordable smartphones coupled with high-speed internet has prompted many people to take up gaming across small cities and towns. In fact, mobile-based platforms for gaming have made it easier for many to access skill-based games and tournaments.

Consultancy firm EY mentioned in a recent report that the Indian domestic market for online gaming is estimated to grow from $906 million in 2019 to more than $2 billion in 2023 representing a CAGR of nearly 22%. This means the Indian market is expected to scale faster and become a meaningful contributor globally. 

The EY report further elaborated that online gamers in India are estimated to grow from 360 million in 2020 to 510 million in 2022. Of these, an estimated 85% are mobile gamers.

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