The online gaming industry in India has undergone exponential growth in recent years, making the industry one of the fastest growing across the country. In 2016, the market was worth $290 million (USD). A subsequent boom in digital gaming – there are now over 628 million online gamers in the country, playing across console, PC, and mobile platforms – is expected to deliver total revenues of $3.7 billion by 2024.
Gaming in India is growing at a rapid pace and, according to a study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the Indian market will grow at a faster rate than the entire global online gaming industry is predicted to.
The drivers for growth in India’s gaming landscape
While the US and European markets typically tend to dominate game development and hardware manufacturing, looking at the demographic makeup of India makes it clear why online gaming is such a widely popular activity. India is known for being a young country. Around 50% of the current total population of India is under the age of 30. Smartphone penetration is at an all-time high and rising quickly: total users in the country are expected to hit 859 million by 222, and the country is second only to China in terms of the number of active internet users- although again, this is expected to almost double from 451 million in 2019 to 829 million in 2021 .
Game development in the country is also a strong emerging sector, with around 275 online gaming publishing companies or developers solely catering to the region by producing games like Ludo King and Teen Patti. These games are tailored to modern Indians, reflecting the importance of cultural festivals like Holi and Diwali with special gaming events. The games are available to play in regional languages like Telugu, Marathi, and Gujrati, making them appealing and accessible to a wide range of players.
The hottest gaming verticals
Reflecting the diverse interests of Indian players, the most popular gaming verticals in the country are mobile gaming, fantasy sports, action and adventure games, and games of skill like Ludo and Poker.
There are currently over 150 million mobile gamers in India, who collectively downloaded approximately 5.6 billion mobile gaming apps in the country in 2019 – the highest number of downloads across the globe. The smash hit gaming apps Fortnite and Call of Duty have expanded their player base in India. Candy Crush, Criminal Case, and Farmville have also gone viral with mobile gamers throughout the country.
More recently, Delhi’s WinZO has established a partnership with Chinese developers Tencent Games to run PUBG Mobile tournaments across its platform, which will be available to play in ten different regional languages.
Just as sports fans across the globe are finding new ways to engage with their favourite disciplines and events, Indian gamers are also jumping on the online fantasy sports train. The user base has increased from 20 million in 2017 to over 50 million in 2019, with the emergence of the new Indian Premier League and the long standing national favourite, cricket, contributing to the surge in interest.
Games of skill like Ludo are part of the national gaming landscape, but here in the 21st century Indian gamers have really begun to take an interest in online poker. Widely considered to be a mind-sport, and popularised by the talented new generation of pro players like Musskan Sethi and Aditya Agarwal, online poker is on the rise. In fact, with over 3 million active registered players, and projected growth of 35-40% by 2023, digital poker in India is growing. This makes it an attractive market for international iGaming operators to launch new platforms and tournaments.
Online gaming in 2020
It’s highly likely that 2020 will be one of the most significant years in terms of the continued development of online gaming in India. There been significant investment in the industry by companies like Baazi Games, which is investing $5 million this year to nurture new gaming technologies. Major international gaming companies like Ubisoft and Rockstar Games have also opened up new development studios in the country.
It’s clear that to Indian residents, playing games online or on mobile is one of the country’s favourite activities in 2020. During March, PayTM First Games, which specialises in mobile games, saw its user base swell by 200%. The platform’s Ludo game was played by over 400,000 users daily, with predictions suggesting that number could actually rise to 1 million before the end of the summer.
WinZO also received increased traffic during March, with regular gameplays increasing by 75%, and multiplayer games on the platform receiving a 35% surge.