Tapping into the zeitgeist is critical to marketing success and today, more so than ever before, that focus is on mobile gaming. Over 500 million Indians use smartphones today, devices capable of running popular free-to-play games like PUBG and Candy Crush with ease. As of last year, PUBG alone had close to 40 million monthly active users, a large chunk of the country’s population. Other popular free-to-play titles like Call of Duty Mobile also have engaged user bases that number in the several million.
Over the past few months, though, smartphone gaming has skyrocketed as people across the country struggle to find ways to keep themselves occupied amid the COVID-19 lockdowns.
This presents a unique opportunity to digital marketers: a highly engaged, effectively captive audience, almost guaranteed to repeatedly engage with particular platforms over the coming months. Gaming was already big in India before the lockdown. Today, though, it represents one of the biggest opportunities for digital marketers. The lockdown has forced other media, including the music and film industries, to scale back work. But as a pure digital segment, gaming hasn’t been hit hard: new games and new updates to existing games are rolling out just as fast as they always have.
India’s penchant for free-to-play is a marketing opportunity
Indian smartphone users generally spend less on in-app purchases and premium games. What this means is that free-to-play and freemium titles tend to dominate, both in terms of download volume and revenue.
As user screen time increases exponentially amid the lockdown, the time users engage with free-to-play ads increases accordingly. Consistent, repeated exposure to relevant ads in free-to-play games has a measurable impact on buying decisions, both online and offline. Rewarded video is a particularly effective approach since it relies on consenting, engaged users watching targeted ads for in-game rewards.
Gaming events and sponsorship opportunities
The Indian eSports industry has seen remarkable growth over the past few years. Both offline and online eSports tournaments across the country have massive prize pools.
Top-rated eSports teams have millions of viewers and fans across platforms. Sponsoring individual teams or even tournaments can provide digital marketers with an opportunity to expose brands to highly engaged audiences across the country.
Gaming enables greater social media visibility
One consequence of gaming’s immense popularity in India is the industry’s strong footprint on social media platforms. Top Indian gaming publications, gamers on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, all have followings in the six to seven digits.
Collaborations, cross-branding, and sponsorship arrangements with Indian gaming influencers can help brands growth their social media visibility among a younger demographic
Gaming was on the upswing in India well before the current COVID-19 situation and the lockdowns. However, with millions of people locked up at home, gaming is quickly turning into the leisure activity for people across the country. Smart marketers who leverage this shift have the potential to expose brands to a highly engaged audience that’s growing by the day.
Vaibhav Odhekar, Co-Founder and CEO, POKKT