The online gaming industry has evolved well beyond its nascent stages, with the global market witnessing an exponential growth over the last few years. In India too, the progress has been truly astounding. India’s online gaming industry is estimated to generate Rs. 11,900 crore by 2023, according to a report by KPMG in India and the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG). Another recent report by boutique investment bank Maple Capital Advisors titled ‘Gaming – India Story’ projects that the Indian gaming industry will grow at a CAGR of 47% by 2020. Multiple factors including increased internet penetration as well as a significant rise in quality gaming content are going to contribute to this growth. At present, India is home to more than 400 gaming startups, which are capitalizing on the rapidly-growing smartphone user base to help the industry reach new heights.
The Maple Capital Advisors report indicates that three key segments of online gaming that have emerged most popular are – Real Money Games (RMG), Mobile-centric/casual games and e-sports. With digital payments becoming more secure and commonplace, Real Money Games have garnered huge responses from the Indian audience and are now ready for diversification.
Widespread adoption of smartphones
Up until a couple of years ago, online gaming platforms had little reach beyond the metros and tier-I cities. The proliferation of smartphones and other internet-enabled devices, however, has changed this scenario. With easy access to cheaper smartphones and data plans, more users outside metropolises have turned to real-money games as a pastime hobby or a relaxing activity. A 2018 survey by Reycreo shows that tier-II cities have the most active gamers who spend around 30 minutes daily on average on online gaming apps.
The entertainment factor
The COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown have provided impetus for the real-money gaming industry. At a time when most people are stuck indoors, games like poker and rummy are allowing them to unwind and ward off boredom. Extremely entertaining, these games are designed with intuitive, engaging interfaces that keep the users engaged. Whether someone prefers rummy or is a poker enthusiast, real money games provide the thrill and mental stimulus to help people to escape the mundane activities of daily life.
Platform to socialize
As social distancing becomes the new norm, friends getting together and playing indoor or outdoor games is no longer a common sight. The pandemic and the strict social distancing rules prevent people from venturing outside their houses and meeting others. Against this background, online gaming platforms and real-money games have given them an opportunity to socialize and keep in touch with their friends in an engaging manner – all from the safety and comfort of their homes.
With online transactions receiving wider acceptance, it’s easier than ever to win exciting rewards and cash prizes on real-money gaming platforms. Unlike gambling, the real money games are skill based and reward players knowledge. While there are various types of real-money games, players are typically asked to pay a nominal entry fee and the money is pooled. The winner receives the money almost instantly through account transfer or digital wallets. This way real-money games not only allow users to showcase their skills, but also receive rewards in return. It is truly a win-win situation. More importantly, most industry players adhere to safety and data privacy guidelines so there is no scope for foul play.
The real-money gaming segment in India, although at a burgeoning stage, is picking up strong momentum. As per RedSeer Consulting, the Indian real-money gaming market is expected to grow at around 50-55% to reach a valuation worth $1.5-1.7 billion by 2022. As major gaming companies and startups in this space strive to make the gaming experience more fun-filled and immersive, it is likely that real money games will propel the growth of the overall gaming industry in the country.
About the Author
Nitesh Salvi, Co-founder and CEO, Pocket52