India’s Flourishing Gaming Sector: What’s Driving The Growth?

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The Indian gaming market is one of the fastest-growing gaming markets in the world. In 2019, the number of gamers in the country increased to about 357 million, and the figure is constantly rising.

Early in 2020 when companies in other sectors and businesses began to shut down due to COVID-19, the gaming sector in India flourished more. According to major industry players, the number of gamers during the lockdown became twice the previous number estimated before the lockdown. Consequently, the number of gamers is expected to reach 628 million in 2021

Growing Investment From China

In recent times, we have seen a lot of investment being made by Chinese tech firms in India. Even as so many people seem to be against China because of the spread of the deadly coronavirus, tech companies from the country seem undeterred. They are working it all out and somehow gaining dominance in the Indian online gaming market.

Two of the biggest Chinese tech companies, Tencent and Alibaba, now have stakes in some of the top Indian online gaming firms such as Dream 11 and Paytm First.

Even with the restrictions imposed by India on Chinese investment due to COVID-19. The investment from Chinese companies has continued to blossom. Paytm First Games which is backed by Alibaba recently partnered with Daraz, a company based in Pakistan to launch Daraz First, a gaming platform in Bangladesh.

Daraz operates several logistic services and e-commerce platforms in Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The company, Alibaba which recently invested in Paytm acquired Daraz Group in 2018.

Tencent has also invested in Dream 11- the top fantasy sports platform in India. The company at this moment is almost totally shut down due to the lack of real sporting events.

These companies have also been active in other areas apart from the gaming sector. An earlier report claimed that as of December 2019, Chinese companies (including Alibaba and Tencent) had invested over $8 billion dollars in the India tech sector. Other Chinese companies that have invested in the India’s tech sector apart from these two big ones include ByteDance and Xiaomi.

Even though the investment of these Chinese companies is nurturing the tech and gaming sector, it also comes with some risks. As they continue to penetrate the tech sector and replicate their internet ecosystem in India, they introduce systematic risks. Their ecosystem will control access to Indian end-users and this means they can begin to set the technologies/standards for other companies (e.g financing firms and media).

Their penetration into the Indian system could also cause data risk. As they invest in Indian companies, they gain access and control over their data.

As it is, India has to address these investments with a cautious economic policy to ensure economic imperialism by the Chinese is prevented. The only way there can be a balance of some sort is if the Chinese doors are open for Indian Companies to enter and also make investments in the country.

“Illegal” games can now easily be accessed

Casino gaming used to be a big challenge to Indians for so many years until the entry of online casinos. Many people used to have to visit Goa and Sikkim to play at casinos as those were the only states where casinos were allowed. Even till date, casinos and casino gaming are still illegal in many states in the country.

For example, many Indians love to play games like Andar Bahar. But according to the law, it is illegal to play the game for real money in India. But now, many “illegal” games can be freely played in India.

Thanks to technology, gaming companies can now offer Andar Bahar online games. They can either offer the games via online casinos hosted in countries where online casinos are legal. They also offer the games via apps that players have to play with purchased coins instead of rupees. Andar Bahar is extremely popular and offers high value for gaming companies.

Esports in India continue to thrive

There has been a global growth of Esports and India has not been left out. In recent times, India has seen many upcoming eSports startups like FanMojo, Nodwin Gaming, and JetSynthesys. This has helped to make esports in India an investor-friendly sector.

The growth of Esports like other gaming sectors has also created more opportunities for entrepreneurship in the country. There has been an increase in the number of gaming outlets in IT cities with many gamers trooping in daily.

However, we still have some challenges in the E-sports sector. The unavailability of hardware required to run games for high performance is one challenge. These high-performance hardware tools come at high costs which competitors do not get to purchase in time. This makes the industry lose and experience lower participation.

Online skill gaming keeps evolving

People have always been allowed to play skill games in India. But even with the recent availability of several games online, skill gaming has not been left behind but has been evolving quickly. The online space has even helped to grow the popularity of skill games and made them more readily available.

However, as there are already many skill games based sites for Indians, there is still room for more. The needs of online gamers keep changing and there’s a need for more innovation to cater for their needs.

More skill game providers are needed to provide free versions of online skill games for players. The games can be offered as totally free but requiring purchase for extra features of the game. They can also be offered as a demo and full versions, this will let players test with the demo before paying for the full version.

Cheaper mobiles and faster internet

India is ranked among the top five online mobile gaming nations in the world. In 2019, 5.6 billion mobile gaming apps were downloaded in India. This was the highest mobile gaming app download recorded by any country in the world in the year.

The large growth of mobile gaming can be attributed to the availability of cheaper mobile devices and faster internet. Many more people can acquire mobile phones and can connect to the internet with them. They can easily access mobile gaming sites and download apps faster.

Many gaming providers are already taking advantage of mobile and online gaming. But as more people acquire mobile phones, the mobile gaming world is surely growing larger.


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