Emergence of real money gaming in India, and how it has become a massive industry

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Indoor games have been popular among Indians since ages. From playing on ancient boards to shifting to virtual reality, our way of gaming has changed, but the love for it has stayed. Today India is one of the world’s fastest-growing online gaming markets. Gaming skyrocketed especially in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown where most Indians, especially youngsters leaned towards online games due to scarcity of entertainment choices to stay connected in isolation. According to an All-India Gaming Federation EY report, the online gaming sector in India is seen as one of the fastest-growing sectors, which is estimated to cross USD 2 billion by 2023.

What’s contributing to the popularity of real money gaming and making it a growing industry?

Growing mobile gaming industry
With the induction of affordable smartphones in the market and the various data packs available at throwaway prices, online gaming is no longer a luxurious pursuit for most. As of now, mobile gaming in India accounts for 90% of the market share with over 3 billion downloads and the penetration of the smartphones has seen a sharp increase. India’s gaming market which is currently generating $1.5B revenue is expected to triple to over $5 billion by 2025 on the back of the ‘mobile first’ phenomenon.

Skill based games
India has depicted a long history of playing skill-based games. Even today as online gaming is booming, it’s no surprise that skill-based games are leading the way. A ‘game of skill’ is one where a player’s success is determined on the basis of how efficiently they play the game, their strategies and superior knowledge of it. Some popular skill-based games are rummy, racing and fantasy sports which have reduced aspects of luck and chance and have turned gaming into mainstream entertainment and a social media alternative.

Cutting-edge technology and payment options
Just as gamers at all levels push the boundaries in the games they play, developers too are using new techniques and emerging technologies to push the gaming experience forward. Online games are now equipped with video chat feature that allows Indian gamers to interact and participate in games through live video and real time chat. Advent of 5G data network in India will drive this momentum even further and enhance gaming experiences with technologies like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.With 5G wireless technology in place, cloud gaming could pave the way for the future of online gaming. Another important factor that has spurred the growth, is the availability of a variety of secured online payment options that have allowed gamers to play both free-to-play and pay-to-play formats.

As the gaming craze kicks into high gear, avid gamers are now looking for a gainful entertainment experience. Fantasy sports revenue increased nine times in the pre-pandemic years between 2017-18 and 2019-20, reaching 16,500 crore while e-sports revenue is expected to rise at a CAGR of 36% over the next three years. Not limited to just cash prizes, the emerging gaming companies in India are also creating more opportunities in non-conventional sectors such as tech-oriented careers within IT and game development.

Social lifeline
In this age of long-haul social distancing and mental-health strains, people of all age groups are turning to online games for relief. Discord and multi-player games are giving an opportunity to video games enthusiasts to build friendships online and stay connected for years.

Heavy investments
Seeing rapid growth of the Indian gaming market and given the population size, large global have started acquiring and partnering with domestic companies to expand geographic presence. Real Money Games (RMG) such as cards (Poker and Rummy) and Fantasy sports attracted deals worth USD 700 million in the first nine months of 2021.As Investors continue to heavily back the sector, local companies are likely to scale up their operations and cater to global markets in the coming years. However, currently the flourishing industry is suffering from an unstructured regulatory framework. Considering the humongous potential that India’s online gaming industry-which is the fourth largest market globally- holds, the industry requires a robust regulatory and legal environment to help the business scale quickly. Once the government comes with a clear, specific and effective policy to promote responsible gaming, the industry will realize its true potential.



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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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