India ranked second in the world in downloads last year marked by explosive growth in games. Cheaper data powered by Reliance Jio’s entry in 2016 enabled more consumers to access games on the go, newer and more powerful devices with higher battery and storage capacity led to increased adoption of games with higher quality graphics and larger build sizes, and strength of consumption for local content attracted new spenders in gaming and created breakthroughs in grossing charts that augurs well for the local gaming ecosystem.
Currently over 120 million gamers in India, play mobile games for over 30 minutes a day with industry estimates over 1.5 billion game downloads in just H1 2017. Over the next few years, more than 400 million Indians are expected to join the banking system, and with access to smartphones and digital transactions, domestic gaming industry is expected to touch Rs.6000 crores by 2020.
Some notable trends from 2017 and predictions for 2018:
India leads overall downloads on Google Play: India and emerging markets like Brazil, Vietnam and Indonesia lead the overall downloads in Google Play. India is now the #2 market in the world in terms of Google Play downloads and 2018 seems to be no different going by the trends. The mobile game developer ecosystem also got a positive boost given these macro-economic trends of smartphone adoption and data consumption and is expected to cross over to 300 plus local game developers in 2018.
Game downloads show explosive growth: Game downloads in India have increased over 300 per cent over the past 24 months. Simulation, action, racing and casual games dominated their respective categories with growth in downloads of upto 8x in certain categories in the first half of 2017 compared to 2015. Simulation and casual still have huge headroom for growth in 2018 with new consumers in the younger age group entering the market. The vast download numbers are driven by new smartphone owners discovering and experimenting with new apps and games. Mobile is truly the first screen as many of these users skipped the desktop generation entirely.
Growth in local content adoption: Indian publishers are seeing success in home market and overall the revenue growth has soared over 2.4x in 2 years. More interesting is that 44 per cent of game downloads in top 100 games of 2017 were for games developed by Indian Publishers. Only about 34 per cent of game downloads were games developed by Chinese and US publishers. In China, over 90 per cent of spending in games is driven by titles made by Chinese developers which seem likely the way India would head too in the future.
New entrants make headway: India has seen many success stories recently on the top downloads charts on Google Play with homegrown games around popular culture like cricket, ludo, simulations, casual ruling the roost with high engagement and positive customer feedback. Some notable games like Ludo King in board, Sachin Saga in cricket and Baahubali in strategy made entry into the top downloads charts in second half of this year and showed that interesting and relevant IP based content holds strong appeal. 2018 should see newer publishers join the fray as India’s gaming market matures in various genres.
New breakthroughs in grossing charts: Traditional genres like social casino, strategy and action games continue to dominate the grossing charts. Revenue grew by 5x in the sports genre with games with multiplayer, IP tie-in’s and highly engaging content leading to strong monetisation in the Indian market. The arrival of the IPL season and other global sporting events scheduled for the year, should see the sports games genre surging to new highs.
Emergence of new AR and VR games: With less than 3,000 AR games globally on the AppStores, the augmented reality category is yet to emerge in gaming. Pokemon Go’s entry into the space and the Harry Potter AR game in works by Niantic should push this space further in India as well.
New Innovations in ad-monetisation: As the monthly active user base in gaming sees new highs, interstitial and video-ad revenues will rise as game developers and advertisers come together to find innovative ways to engage the audience.
2018 is poised to be yet another breakthrough year for India’s mobile gaming market. As India moves up the app maturity curve and the vast download numbers result in higher engagement in games, the advertising revenue and in-app ad-revenue streams are certainly at the verge of skyrocketing in the coming year creating new opportunities for publishers and the developer ecosystem alike.
(These are purely personal views of Jetsynthesys VP- Product and Marketing Roopak Nair and AnimationXpress.com does not necessarily subscribe to these views)