An interesting facet of mobile gaming in India is the high proportion of women who play — a trend that took off during their long months of being indoors due to the Covid shutdowns. The Mobile Marketing Handbook, India, brought out by InMobi says 49 per cent of Indian women started to play during the pandemic.
Today, 43 per cent of all mobile gamers in India are women and 49 per cent of them are aged 34 or older. They spend an average of 53 minutes a day playing mobile games — it is their ‘me time’.
All this may have a salutary effect on the national balance sheet. A November 2021 study by analysts Sequoia and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), calls “Mobile Gaming a $ 5 billion+ opportunity” for India, by 2025, up from $ 1.5 billion last year.
Gaming in India is still much smaller than the other two big markets. It constitutes just 1 per cent of the world’s market compared to China (26 per cent) and US (23 per cent).
But what excites industry watchers is that while the growth rate is almost stagnant in the other two giants at between 8 per cent and 10 per cent, the Indian gaming market is tearing away at 38 per cent.
A big enabler will be the emergence of 5G technology in the market, suggests the PwC India Report on Media and Entertainment 2022.
It shares an interesting fact: India is the third fastest-growing video games market in the world, after Turkey and Pakistan.
PwC’s estimates of the annual growth rate of the Indian games market is somewhat muted compared to BCG-Sequoia: 18.3-20.6 per cent depending on the segment.
The Indian government can spot a good thing when it sees one — which is why it announced a Digital Gaming Research Initiative in April this year. The initiative, under the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), is to help develop high-end technologies for an immersive gaming environment, even while promoting Indian culture.
This has prompted some desi developers to announce India-themed games like Fau-G Fearless and United Guards or Indus Battle Royale. The latter has coined a new term “Indo Futurism”: Supergamings take on Indian culture with a futuristic twist for gamers across the globe!
Legal Hurdles Cleared
However, there has been some confusion on the regulatory front which led to avoidable hiccups in some states which rushed to ban some games like rummy and fantasy sports on the grounds that they were games of chance rather than skill and form of gambling.
Tamil Nadu led this banning spree followed by Kerala and Karnataka. In each case, the industry had to appeal the classification in the respective high courts which overturned the bans.
Other state courts to do so were the benches in Punjab and Haryana, Rajasthan and Mumbai. As things stand, since a year now, the Supreme Court has upheld fantasy sports as games of skill, after a case involving Dream 11.
Such roadblocks removed, gamers in India are free to indulge in what is emerging as by far their favourite pastime on their phones. When there are no mails to check, YouTube videos to watch, Facebook posts to respond to and WhatsApp messages to scan, or micro banking to do — well that’s the time for wall-to-wall gaming.
And if anyone asks, tell them, “We are like that only”.