Online and real money gaming is having quite a moment all across the world. However, nowhere is this impressive rise of digital entertainment more visible than right here in India. According to the online magazine Forbes, the total value of the online gaming industry in India is worth approximately $890 million and predictions for the growth of the mobile sector have it reaching $1.1 billion in 2020.
In recent years, more and more people have been able to purchase smartphones and, combined with extensive development in mobile gaming, this has led to a surge in growth for the sector. It’s likely to develop even further in the coming years, particularly since statistics predict the number of residents earning a middle class income are likely to increase to 53% of the country, therefore being more able to purchase smartphone technology.
Diverse gaming experiences
India is known for having one of the cheapest internet services in the world; whilst the speeds may not always live up to global standards they’ve been more than enough for thousands of Indian players to become heavily active in online RPGs and open-world games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite. Gone are the days when gamers would need to purchase expensive, standalone consoles and television sets; instead, high quality games can now be played on smartphones and tablets.
Such technological advancements have also made it possible for the online gaming community in India to access a variety of games that all offer diverse gaming experiences. We’re also playing a prominent role in the development of games and online software: in just eight years the number of development companies and publishing houses based in the country has increased from 25 to 250.
An explosion in real money gaming
On an international scale, real money gaming has become one of the biggest sectors of the gaming industry in a relatively short space of time. Whilst Europe remains the biggest market, leading brands have seen just how much lucrative potential there is in the Indian market. We’ve already seen an increased Indian presence in international poker tournaments, spearheaded by professional players like Aditya Agarwal, and in the earlier months of 2018 top global online poker platform, PokerStars, officially launched in India. The brand chose online poker sensation, and recipient of a First Women Achievers Award from President Ram Nath Kovind, Muskan Sethi to act as an ambassador for the launch. This was a double coup since she’d also recently been selected to captain the Delhi Diehards in the inaugural Global Poker League India tournament.
The addition of Muskan Sethi as an official ambassador certainly helped raise visibility for the PokerStars brand in the country, as well as opening up the world of online poker to a new demographic. Now, the brand is building on that legacy by welcoming renowned Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui as an official ambassador for its latest Freeroll Tournament promotion. The Nawaz promotion is open to players of all experience levels and is sure to boost the appeal of online poker in India even further, particularly amongst the many fans of the star for whom this could be their first experience of playing poker online.
A big appetite for fantasy sports games
As well as eSports and real money gaming like online poker, another sector of the gaming industry that is becoming more and more popular with Indian players is that of Fantasy Sports. The first fantasy sports game launched in India in 2001, in the form of ESPN’s Super Selector. Cricket is pretty much our national sport and, coinciding with the 2003 Cricket World Cup held in Africa, the Indian audience for the game peaked at 500,000. Since then, this former niche area of gaming has grown to include 20 million players, and, according to the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming, much of this growth has occurred over the past few years alongside the release of sports gaming platforms like Dream 11.
There are around 60 companies operating within the online fantasy sports gaming arena in India, which involves the creation of virtual teams that then compete according to real players’ statistics, and 30 of them were launched between 2017 and 18 – indicating just how quickly it has grown and could still grow. It’s not just cricket that’s capturing the imaginations of players either, fantasy sports in India has been applied to Badminton, Kabbadi and could soon expand to football (which will likely perform even better). The IFSG has also predicted that the total number of players involved in online fantasy sports in India will surpass 100 million by the end of 2020, providing a clear indication of just how healthy the appetite is for online gaming amongst sports and gaming fans in India.