Monday, January 17, 2022
 
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The Indian Gaming Market is Maturing Rapidly
Engagement and spending by the desi online gamer are increasing, while focus remains on ‘India-first content’. In-app purchases are growing at a fast pace, but are not likely to overthrow the significance of real money games for operator revenues.
New Paying Gamers have Increased in Excess of 50 Per Cent
The growth of new paying users (NPUs) in India has risen more than 50 per cent, and paid gamers are expected to reach 235 million by 2025, according to a recent report by homegrown global advisory company RedSeer Consulting and Indian VC fund focusing on gaming and interactive media industries Lumikai Capital.
Currently, India has a total gamer user base of 425 million, including casual gamers and the paying consumers who were 80 million in 2020 and are expected to reach 95 million in 2021. The report is predicting paid gamers to grow by 25 per cent every year and to triple their number by 2025, becoming 235 million strong.
On average, a paying desi gamer spends $ 16 (₹ 1,200) per year, with average monthly spending moving between $ 0.6 (₹ 45) and $ 3.5 (₹ 260). The likelihood of an online gamer to start paying to play has been increasing with the rising entertainment and engagement values of gaming products. The growing maturity of the desi gamer and the UPI integration within gaming interfaces are the other key factors leading the NPU growth.
“This is an exciting time for the gaming ecosystem in India. Access to gaming is democratised with increasing participation from Tier-2 cities and beyond, gamers are maturing in the way they play different gaming genres, and unprecedented growth in new-paying users (NPU) to drive the overall gaming market to become 3-times in the next 5 years,” comments RedSeer’s Engagement Manager Mukesh Kumar.
India-First Content Leads in Popularity
The RedSeer and Lumikai paper reports strong preferences for ‘India-first content’ games with more than 60 per cent of gamers going for titles that feature a central theme or a character derived from mythology or based on a home celebrity.
Similar trends have been observed in a study on the most profitable games for an operator in India by casino gaming researchers Esse N Videri (ENV) Media. The report establishes as a key finding that “While the market is fragmented, there are some profitable solid bases around traditional Indian card games such as Teen Patti, Andar Bahar and Rummy”.
The ENV Media experts advise operators to “understand, explore and adapt to the local demand” first, rather than going straight to offering blackjack online in India in an attempt to “educate” desi users about western casino gaming products.
RMG Dominance on the Market will Continue
Real money games bring the lion’s share of revenues on the Indian gaming market, but the rising number of paying gamers in the casual and hyper-casual segments is expected to result in a faster growth of in-app purchases (IAPs) reaching 30-40 per cent during the next five-year period.
The projections in the RedSeer and Lumikai study foresee RMGs still accounting for more than half (53 per cent) of the total revenues generated by the Indian online gaming industry by FY 2026. IAPs are envisaged at 31 per cent, while ad revenue estimates are set at 11 per cent.
“While real-money gaming (RMG) will continue to dominate the market, in-app purchases (IAP), virtual gifting, etc to become mainstream spend categories among paid gamers, and the revenue from IAP is expected to outgrow overall India’s gaming market growth rate,” says Mr Kumar.
Covid has been Driving Engagement Up
The Covid situation and the lockdowns brought a spike in gaming adoption and growth as friends and families turned to social gaming to maintain connections when distance and restrictions separated people.
The average weekly time spent gaming by a user was 2.5 hours before the pandemic. During the second wave of Covid, this number grew by 44 per cent to 3.6 hours. For comparison, weekly time spent on OTT platforms increased by only 12 per cent over the same period.
The number of game downloads per month has grown by 50 per cent over the last 12 months. At the same time, 30 per cent of surveyed users admit the time they spend gaming on their mobile phones has increased over the past year, with 20 per cent expecting gaming time to grow further in the near future.


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