Global gaming erupted with the onset of the pandemic that forced people to stay indoors in order to be safe. India became the world's top consumer of mobile games in FY22 with 15 billion downloads. It is home to more than 900 gaming companies. Online game developers, publishers, and marketers have leveraged this to create unique concepts including eSports, fantasy leagues, multiplayer social gaming, etc. that not only engage audiences with experience-based interactions, but also establish effective advertising platforms for brands. According to a IBEF report, in FY 2022, India had over 50.7 crore gamers, of which almost one-fourth (12 crores) were paying users.
The advancement in technologies, the rise in accessibility of data, lower price of internet connectivity, favorable demographics and socio-economic influence have played a key role in the growth of the gaming industry. Online gaming is more popular than ever, and players are expecting a better user experience than ever before. With conventional video gaming or playing the latest and best titles available, there has been a surge in popularity in the past few months. This is due to the fact that technological advances have made gaming more immersive and exciting than ever before.
Metaverse & Social Gaming
The most gung-ho Metaverse band wagon that everyone hopped on, was inherently social, providing players with a socialistic environment where they can build relationships with the elements around them gained the most popularity. Multi-player gaming took on an additional dimension as players were able to invite friends from the real world, interact with other players, build relationships, and so on. Thus, creating an immersive experience for all the players. Metaverse’s social nature will enable gamers to have a heightened immersive experience in the virtual world. The gaming experience in the metaverse will be much more interactive and fluid for users. Breaking the previously common two-dimensional screen, the metaverse world is here to take those collaborative possibilities to the next level.
The AR and VR technology offer inevitable and exciting experiences empowering Metaverse development. AR has the potential to transform the real world and create an amazing virtual gaming world using visual elements and characters. It facilitates smartphones and digital devices to let customers enjoy impeccable gaming experience. Hosting virtual events such as live concerts in-game gave an additional boost to players to enjoy the experience on a whole new level.
Cloud Gaming & 5G
As 5G services are being rolled-out in the country, it has the potential to rehaul the connectivity experience for online gamers. One of 5G’s major use cases is that it allows for a smooth cloud gaming experience. 5G’s low latency and the convenience of smartphones will make mobile a key platform for cloud gaming. Today’s mobile-first gamers are increasingly exposed to midcore, immersive, and competitive game experiences—titles that were previously available only on console and PC. Cloud gaming and 5G will make many more of these premium titles available on mobile. One of the primary benefits of cloud gaming is the lack of need for specific hardware to run games. Gamers may no longer need to buy expensive console hardware and don’t need to download, install, or update games. By streaming games as a service, cloud gaming providers can use a subscription model to reduce the overall cost of gaming. It can also provide gamers with access to a larger library of games which may not be possible to buy individually.
Esports turning mainstream
The Esports landscape in India has changed drastically in the past few years. While gaming started off as a pastime for many Indians, today, taking part in competitive tournaments and streaming gaming sessions online has become full-time career options for gamers. Mainstream OTT platforms like Voot, SonyLIV, and Hotstar have begun streaming major esports tournaments. Earlier this year, Star Sports streamed an Esports tournament marking the industry’s first mainstream television telecast. The sector is on its way to becoming a recognized and appreciated entertainment source in Indian households, making esports a viable career option for many aspiring young talents of the nation. India hosts the world's biggest young population, increasing mobile use, and affordable internet access, making it a huge opportunity for mobile gaming. In India, Esports viewing, and streaming are also very popular and there is infinite scope for growth.
In 2023, the gaming industry will continue to accelerate focus in the field of metaverse and Web 3.0 to build ecosystems and provide unique gaming experiences for users. With its openness to change, the gaming industry has been at the forefront of disruptions like the switch from PCs to smartphones. Through intriguing concepts, simple accessibility, and engaging experiences, it will give businesses the chance to interact with and establish a long-term connection with millennials and others. But in a country where consumers are sensitive to price, like India, pricing strategy will always be important. The considerable financing for Web 3.0 offers game makers a strategic opportunity to fill in current gaps and advance using Web 3.0.
Sean Hyunil Sohn, CEO, KRAFTON, Inc. India. Views expressed are personal.