The mobile gaming industry in India has been on a meteoric rise, with a proliferation of smartphones, affordable data, and a young, tech-savvy population driving its growth. As we look into the crystal ball, several key trends emerge that could shape the future of this dynamic industry.
Mobile Gaming in India
In the past, mobile gaming was very different from what we have today. Some may recall playing Snake, one of the earliest phone games on Nokia devices. Over time, these games became more intricate, with some even incorporating 3D designs to develop a miniature digital environment. Despite these advancements, mobile gaming was still regarded as a less impressive alternative to the bigger and more impressive PC and console games.
Initially, smartphone games were considered a means of killing time. However, with the advancement of technology and the increasing power of smartphones, mobile games have also evolved, becoming more sophisticated. Now, we have more than just basic 2D side-scrolling or platforming games, but ones with intricate environments, complete storylines, and even professional voiceovers. This has resulted in widespread popularity worldwide, including in India.
A report by MoEngage has predicted that mobile gaming in India will reach $8.6 billion by the end of 2027. In 2020, there was a significant growth of 40% compared to the previous year, outstripping other forms of entertainment such as television, OTT, and social media. The main factor contributing to the popularity of mobile gaming is its accessibility. In today’s world, not everyone owns a console or PC, but most people have smartphones.
It’s no surprise that India, with nearly 1 billion smartphone users by 2026, is the second-largest smartphone market in the world. As a result, mobile gaming has become the most popular way to play video games in the region. One of the biggest breakthroughs in mobile gaming was the release of PUBG Mobile. Gamers quickly flooded the in-game battlefield after the popular battle royale title was ported to mobile.
Dominating the Youth
India’s mobile gaming scene is predominantly driven by its young population. A study conducted by MoEngage, in collaboration with AppsFlyer and AppsTweak, reveals that the average Indian mobile gamer is 23 years old. Furthermore, the report indicates that 56% of India’s gamers hail from non-metropolitan areas.
Several factors have led to this youthful dominance in India’s mobile gaming sector:
- Surge in Smartphone Usage: The rapid rise in smartphone ownership in India has made mobile gaming more accessible to the masses.
- Affordability of Mobile Games: The relatively low cost of mobile games in India has broadened their appeal to a wider demographic.
- High-Speed Internet Access: The proliferation of high-speed internet has enabled seamless gameplay, free from lagging issues.
- Growing Popularity of eSports: The escalating interest in eSports in recent years has elevated the status of mobile gaming in India.
The trend of youth dominating the mobile gaming landscape in India is anticipated to persist. As the prevalence of smartphones and high-speed internet continues to rise, an increasing number of young individuals will gain access to and enjoy mobile gaming.
Here’s a look at some of the mobile games that are particularly popular among India’s youth:
- PUBG Mobile: This battle royale game has gained immense popularity in India, allowing players to combat on a vast map with up to 100 other participants.
- Free Fire: Another well-liked battle royale game in India, Free Fire is similar to PUBG Mobile but is designed to run on lower-end devices.
- Call of Duty Mobile: This first-person shooter game, featuring a variety of multiplayer modes like Team Deathmatch and Domination, has been well-received in India.
- Garena Free Fire Max: An upgraded version of Free Fire, Garena Free Fire Max offers enhanced graphics and gameplay compared to the original game.
- Among Us: This team-based social deduction game aims to identify the imposters among up to 10 players, has recently seen a surge in popularity in India.
These games represent just a fraction of the vast array of mobile games that are popular among India’s youth. The mobile gaming landscape in India is ever-evolving, and it will be fascinating to observe the emergence of new games in the coming years.
Rising Disposable Income
India’s growing economy has led to an increase in disposable income among its citizens. This economic prosperity could translate into more spending on entertainment, including mobile games. In-app purchases and premium games, which were once considered a luxury, could become more commonplace as people have more disposable income to spend.
Local Game Development
The Indian gaming industry is not just growing in terms of consumption but also production. More and more developers are creating games that cater to local culture and preferences. This trend could lead to a more diverse and vibrant gaming ecosystem, with games that resonate more with the local audience. The success of games like Ludo King and Teen Patti, which are based on traditional Indian games, is a testament to this trend.
The regulatory environment in India could also play a significant role in shaping the mobile gaming landscape. The government’s stance on issues like loot boxes, gambling elements in games, and data privacy could impact the industry’s trajectory. A balanced approach that protects consumers while fostering innovation will be crucial for the industry’s sustained growth.
The rollout of 5G and advancements in mobile technology could lead to more immersive and complex mobile games. As mobile devices become more powerful, they could attract more hardcore gamers, traditionally associated with PC or console gaming. This could increase the average revenue per user and further fuel the industry’s growth.
The mobile gaming landscape in India is dynamic and evolving, driven by technological advancements, demographic factors, and changing consumer behaviour. As we progress, it will be interesting to see how these factors continue to shape the industry and what new trends emerge in this exciting space.