India is the third largest market for Facebook in terms of game play sessions, clocking 234 million sessions in the two month period during July and August 2021, a top executive told Moneycontrol as the social networking giant looks to capitalise on the gaming boom in the country.
"There's a lot of growth that has happened in gaming in the last couple of years, especially in India. What started off in the early days of the pandemic, has actually matured into a very secular growth that's continuing to develop and grow" Manish Chopra, director and head of partnerships at Facebook said in an interaction.
Chopra however didn't disclose any further details on the number of users from India who are currently playing games on the platform. Globally, more than 380 million users play games on the platform on a monthly basis.
India's mobile gaming market is set to more than triple in size to $6-7 billion by 2025, from $1.8 billion in 2021, according to a recent report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), RedSeer and OnePlus.
Over the last couple of years, Facebook has revamped its games experience for users by foraying beyond the social games it was once popular for, by adding a clutch of new features and services including game streaming, virtual reality (via Oculus) and cloud gaming among others.
In March 2019, the tech giant rolled out a dedicated Facebook Gaming tab that allowed users to play instant games, watch gaming videos from their favourite streamers and connect with other members through gaming-related groups. Facebook also launched a standalone gaming app called Facebook Gaming in April last year.
"Over the last year and a half, we've been really focused on building out the platform, so that game developers can reach lots of new audiences along with tools through which they can build, grow and monetise their games," Chopra said.
While casual games are still the mainstay of its gaming platform, several leading publishers are using the platform to engage with new gamers with instant playable versions of their games and possibly attract them to their console-based gaming titles, Chopra said.
He also added that more than 20 million people in India were active members of gaming groups on the platform between July and August 2021.
Plan to bring more diverse gaming creators
Facebook is working with gaming video creators and game publishers to boost its game streaming service, a segment dominated by Google's YouTube at present. Chopra said they are currently focusing on bringing more diverse creators onto the platform, with a specific focus on female creators.
Regional language content is another key focus area for the company in the forthcoming future. "We've seen a lot of content in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Punjabi really do well on our platform, apart from English," Chopra said.
"We've been working with the top creators/gamers as well as a lot of nano and micro creators to be able to expand their presence on Facebook...We've also been partnering with large AAA gaming publishers like Garena and Krafton for bringing gaming content on Facebook," he added.
Facebook said that PUBG Mobile was the most streamed game by its gaming creators in India during July-August 2021, followed by Garena's Free Fire, Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto V, PUBG Battlegrounds and Moontoon's Mobile Legends. However, it didn't share any India-specific viewership data. Globally, Facebook had clocked 439 million hours in viewership in January 2021, registering a 118 percent increase on a yearly basis.
In terms of monetisation, creators can earn money through in-stream ads on their live streams and on-demand content, where they will get a share of the revenue. Facebook also offers additional tools like fan subscriptions and virtual tips for established gaming creators through its creator programmes like Level Up and invite-only managed partner programmes.