Hugely owing to the promising growth of its online gaming sector, it seems that India is finally gearing up to be a formidable force in the global market. Based on statistics, the country still has a long way to go compared to its Asian neighbors like China, Japan. and South Korea, but considering the support that it’s been getting from behemoths around the world, it’s not impossible for it to catch up with them in the coming years.
The history of India’s online gaming industry can be traced back to the early 2000s when PC and handheld consoles introduced the Indian crowd to digital gaming platforms. Games at the time had a good start but were mildly successful in the long run due to the high cost of digital devices and internet connectivity. Only those belonging in the middle-class or higher had the privilege of affording and enjoying them. Most of these were young male gamers who found solace in massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft and Ragnarok Online.
The mid-2000s were specifically a significant era for online gaming in India. Because of the advent of social media, it became possible for more people of any gender and age to discover and get into online games via social networking sites like Facebook. These were mostly simulation games perceived to foster greater bonds and build larger networks among users. FarmVille and Mafia Wars were dominant names during those years.
The rise of gaming in India only became undeniably palpable in 2016 and later, and it is primarily cited as a direct result of the ever-growing number of smartphone users in the country. As of writing, more than 530 million of its population already has smartphones. According to projections, this number is still set to surge to at least 628 million this year because of its affordability. The increasing disposable income has also helped the middle class pay for content.
As a result, mobile games have become easily available to anyone with a smartphone, especially those who are in search of entertainment almost on a daily basis; one tap on the screen can already give users access to pretty much any game they want, whether it be action, role-playing, arcade, shooter, or MOBA. Essentially, mobile games catered to both hardcore and casual gamers.
Today, mobile gaming is so widespread throughout the country that the number of demands for new games keeps on piling in. This has inspired many game developers to capitalize on smartphone usage for their businesses. In fact, there are at least 275 game development companies in India now, which is a big leap coming from a mere 25 in 2010. Now, India’s mobile games market is over $890 million dollars. It wouldn’t be a surprise in case it turns into a billion-dollar market in just a few years.
Big companies are already beginning to invest in the country’s gaming market. Alibaba’s AGTech Holdings and Paytm have recently joined forces to launch a gaming platform called Gamepind in hopes of making it the largest gaming hub in India. Tencent, known as the largest video game company in the world, is now bent on taking over the Indian gaming market, reports say. Youzu Interactive and Stom Studio have also been making strides in providing Indians with more local content.
More recently, Nazara Technologies has zeroed in on taking advantage of India’s apparent and staunch interest in eSports. Following its acquisition of a 55% stake in Nodwin Gaming, it has planned to bolster the online competitive gaming scene in the next few years. Other companies are also making herculean efforts by hosting international eSports events in the country and drawing in sponsors.
This year, cloud gaming is also going to take the industry to higher heights. Services like Google Stadia and Apple Arcade basically work like Netflix and Hulu, except they’re for games. They save users the trouble of paying up for individual games by giving them access to a plethora of games in exchange for a monthly or annual subscription fee. This is expected to help the average smartphone user save up and afford paid content.
Lastly, artificial intelligence promises an exciting future in the country’s gaming industry. The Bangalore-based tech startup Absentia has been busy creating Norah AI, an AI-powered tool for automated video game development. It is designed to make the creation of VR content less laborious for game developers. This only means that studios will not need expensive hardware to be able to create high-quality games quickly. As soon as this technology is in full swing, game development businesses will surely grow at a rapid rate!