Indian online gaming industry to be worth $3.9 billion by 2025: report

A recent report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) in partnership with smartphone maker OnePlus and internet advisory RedSeer suggests that the gaming market is expected to witness a 3x growth over the course of the next four years and touch $3.9 billion in value by 2025.

While the gaming scene currently stands at 430 million mobile gamers plus gamers, the numbers are expected to shoot up to 650 million by 2025. As of now, India is fundamentally a mobile-first country, contributing more than 90% to the $1.6 billion gaming market. It is estimated that the Indian market will generate a $3.9 billion value by 2025.

Part of the reason for this rapid growth in a short period of time is the increase in smartphone penetration in the country. Due to the sophistication of hardware, phones are now capable of running high-fidelity games with ease, allowing users to even experience immersive gaming too. Moreover, there are various brands that are specifically targeting the gaming milieu with their offerings, launching gaming-specific features and devices.

Indisputably, India is now the largest market for mobile game downloads. As per the study, the onset of the pandemic-induced restrictions spurred an organic growth of digital games as mobile app downloads ballooned by 50 percent while the engagement also increased by 20 percent.

With India’s gamers spending huge amounts of time on gaming post the outbreak of Covid-19, the ecosystem naturally witnessed a parallel growth of a new breed of hardcore gamers. While casual games are still top in the popularity quotient, hardcore games are the ones that are generating revenues. According to the report, close to 40% of hardcore gamers pay for their games with an average spend of Rs.230 per month.

This growth is fuelled by the aggressiveness with which device manufacturers are continuously amping up the performance which is leading to ease of accessibility, quality visuals, improved resolution, and frame rates, ultimately leading to better user experience, the report observes.

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Cashing in on the popularity of gaming in India, many players from around the world have made huge investments over the past year. Investments have hit a whopping $1 billion mark in the gaming sector over the last six months alone, the report states.

Recently Esports giant NODWIN gaming joined hands with the country’s largest multiplex operator PVR Limited to stream e-sports events in its theatres for the first time.

“City-level penetration of professional esports leads to solid exposure for the grassroots ecosystem and as seen in the past, the more exposed the grassroots is, the better it gets at the higher tiers. This in turn paves the way for the collective growth of all tiers of professional players. Our association with PVR Cinemas opens a corridor towards mainstreaming esports and placing it right in the middle of the entertainment industry. Esports as an upcoming medium of interactive entertainment has had its fair share of visibility in the jam-packed arenas but it’s about time that we bring the action to the silver screen. NODWIN, along with building grassroots, will also give its audience a premium watching experience with this partnership”, said Akshat Rathee, MD & Co-Founder, NODWIN Gaming. 

The report also threw light on several indirect initiatives (policies such as Digital India and Digital Literacy acting as the pillar of a bourgeoning internet economy) and direct initiatives (such as STPI and National Centre of Excellence for Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics) that have created a conducive mobile gaming ecosystem.

According to a KPMG 2020 report titled A Year Off Script, the overall user base for online games in India has also increased from 269 million in FY 18 to 365 million in FY20.

Recently at the CII summit, Naman Jhawar, Senior Vice President at Mobile Premier League (MPL) had thrown light on what can be done to form favorable policies for the gaming ecosystem, especially esports.

Speaking about the fledgling yet promising esports segment, he shared, “Esports is a culmination of a lot of AVGC sectors. It has elements of strong graphics, games, broadcasting viewership, and a path of skill for our youth. Youth is picking up esports in a big way as a professional career. ASEAN games have committed to launch esports in 2022 and we are also reasonably certain that the Olympics will follow suit as well. It is one of the industries which is globally being through and members from the government are also looking at it in a deep way to promote it.”

In response to which the Department of Commerce joint secretary Darpan Jain urged the industry stakeholders to inform them as to how the ministry can help in propelling the sector further.

He asked, “From the industry side, tell us as to what we want from these countries, how we can prioritize our asks, and what can be there in the trade agreement. There are many platforms where we interact with these countries in the form of joint working groups or engagement at senior official levels and we have 160 missions across the globe.”

Speaking about the tools and powers they have at their disposal, he continued, “We have commercial reps on a hundred missions abroad who are there to pursue the interest of the Indian industry. How we can promote our AVGC sector and reach out to the global value chain? How can we integrate ourselves in the global value chain? Do our ambassadors need to meet with them on global meets? Focused promotional strategy is required to reach out to the markets abroad.”