There’s money to be made from playing games. That’s a fact that has been well understood for the past 30 years as gaming has gradually evolved and matured from the consoles of wealthy youngsters to a much wider audience in today’s smartphone age. But even so, the current rate of growth is little short of breath-taking.
In 2019, the gaming industry in India generated about $0.8 billion. In 2021, that had risen to $2.2 billion and by 2025, it is expected to more than double again.
More gamers means redefining gaming
Part of the reason that we find these numbers so difficult to accept is that we have an inaccurate picture of what the typical gamer might look like. Those picturing a young male with a passion for coding but with very limited social skills, are way out.
Yes, the “gaming geeks” conjured up by that 1980s-style image still exist but only as a small niche. The truth is that to see the average gamer, you need to look in the mirror. Smartphone penetration is on the increase in India. It is not yet at the 85-90% of the adult population that we can see in Western Europe, but it is rising rapidly as low cost handsets start to make mobile connectivity a reality for all. Correspondingly, the total number of gamers in India grew by eight percent from 360 million to 390 million over the part year but in a nation with an adult population of more than 0.9 billion, that is still a drop in the ocean.
New gaming niches
Aside from what we might see as the more “traditional” gaming niches, such as arcade classics, sports games or first person shooters, the highest surge is in non-conventional niches that are not, perhaps, aimed at conventional gamers. The iGaming niche is a perfect case in point.
Over the past two to three years, the number of players looking for ways to play online casino games for real money has gone through the roof. Partly, that’s a natural progression as the sector has developed worldwide. Changing attitudes and relaxation of laws has had a dramatic impact on real money gaming worldwide.
Secondly, we need to look at the timing. Casino gamers are among the biggest traditionalists. We can see that from what they play and where they play it, with classic card games like blackjack and classic slot games like Starburst remaining firm favourites in a traditional gaming setting. In fact, it was only the closure of land based facilities in the first half of 2020 that really had a dramatic impact on iGaming and led to more footfalls through virtual doors.
All ages welcome
Casino gaming is just one example. Puzzle games represent another niche that is exploding in popularity and is played by the most unlikely additions to India’s “gamer” ranks – in this case, women aged 50 and above.
These are the sorts of puzzles and word games that used to be popular in magazines and have made the transition to online through social channels and thanks to game developers like Zynga.