Emerging opportunities in the online gaming space for Indian entrepreneurs


India missed the PC and console gaming buzz due to high hardware costs and limited digital penetration

However, India has gained a strong foothold in mobile games, thanks to the rapid increase in smartphone penetration and low-cost high-speed internet access.

With 136 billion yen in revenue and 433 million players today, the market is expected to reach 290 billion yen in revenue and 657 million players by 2025.

For a long time, play in India was considered a recreational activity for children. The country has also missed out on the PC and console gaming buzz due to the high cost of hardware and limited digital penetration. However, India has gained a strong foothold in mobile games, owing to the rapid increase in smartphone penetration, changing consumer behavior, low-cost high-speed internet access and the increase in digital payments.

The pandemic has further accelerated this growth due to the lack of other offline entertainment options. Of 136Billion in turnover and 433 million players today, the market should reach a turnover of ₹290 billion and 657 million players by 2025.

Investor interest is also increasing in the space. Nazara made an IPO, MTG acquired PlaySimple for $ 360 million, and WinZo raised $ 65 million in Series C, all in 2021. As the ecosystem evolves, it also opens up new opportunities that startups can exploit:

Midcore and Hardcore Games

Casual games help non-gamers jump on the gaming bandwagon. However, as these gamers mature, they seek deeper storylines, more content, and advanced gameplay mechanics. Midcore game subgenres like RPGs (Role Playing Games) and MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Fighting Arenas) that provide a more immersive experience have seen increased interest and expansion within the subgenre.

The sub-genre that captured the hearts of the Indian masses was the battle royale. The rise of gamGames like Garena Free Fire and PUBG – which alone had around 200 million players before being banned – and the subsequent wave of games like FAU-G indicate a large and growing market for such games.

Additionally, there is a visible appeal to localized games like Bhai The Gangster for mobile and Raji for console and PC, which are being developed with the Indian audience in mind.

As India becomes more familiar with mainstream games and the concept of metaverse, the rise of midcore is inevitable.

Social games

Multiplayer games allow people to interact and compete digitally while having fun. Games like Roblox have taken it a step further with an “experience platform” where friends can go out and build worlds or even raise a pet. Even Gucci has a virtual store where users can purchase items for their virtual persona.

As users spend more hours on digital platforms, they seek out a social environment, offering plenty of opportunities for integrating social elements across genres.

Game publishers

India now has a host of local game developers. However, the lack of marketing channels limits the reach of local and small-scale developers. This is where publishers step in and market for their target group.

Developers have been able to publish games directly since app stores democratized game distribution. However, this is done at the Google Play Store price by cutting back on in-app purchases. It also reduces the scope of effective marketing between development and the App Store listing.

With a strong presence beyond Tier 1 cities, online games need Indian publishers for relevant, localized marketing that maintains diverse player engagement even as trends change.

Game streaming

Users prefer streaming games for reasons similar to playing games – entertainment and social connection.

Today, people rely on platforms like YouTube, where creators like Tanmay Bhat popularized streaming by playing games like Among Us, Chess, etc. on their chains. PUBG players like Carry Minati and Team Soul have also been recognized through streaming.

Loco, a game streaming company, recently raised $ 9 million to improve its technology and provide more interactive features.

Streaming will develop even further, with esports being recognized as a sport by the Indian Olympic Association. It would promote gambling as a career and strengthen the ecosystem.

Challenges

Although online games have grown in leaps and bounds, they have their own share of obstacles. Game developers struggle to find good talent. Additionally, the Indian gamer population is growing but fragmented, making distribution a challenge.

In addition, although the average revenue per paying user (ARPU) is increasing, it is far behind that of other countries. It has also led to a limited deployment of institutional capital so far.

The past five years have seen tremendous growth, primarily in casual games and real money games. With the maturation of players, the improvement of ARPUs through microtransactions, and the exit of game companies, the industry is maturing. The next phase of growth is expected from midcore / hardcore games.


About Cedric Lloyd

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