January 2-2020
Industry speaks: Changing landscape of Indian mobile gaming sector through the past decade

Mobile games have gained a lot of popularity in the last decade. Thanks to the India’s digital revolution. Today online gaming in India is a Rs 62 billion robust market with an estimated 300 million gamers in 2019 as per the KPMG report India’s Digital Future.

The factors like level of entertainment, fun, and the fact that players have the convenience of playing it any time and anywhere have led the popularity of the mobile gaming space to rise in the last decade.

There are roundabout a thousand games on the mobile gaming platforms currently. With the rapid increase in inventions that industry is witnessing, it is obvious that in the future, more complex and engaging games will be follow. The increasing popularity of the mobile gaming space has given a fillip to investors and brands to venture into the mobile gaming in order to increase their revenue. Since mobiles almost dominate the market, one can expect that all new games developed will be mobile-friendly for them to be relevant.

We had the opportunity to speak with folks from the gaming industry who have witnessed and sussed out the ebbs and flows in the gaming sector closely. This is what the Industry thinks:

Yoozoo Games India CEO Anuj Tandon expresses, “ This decade has been transformative for the mobile gaming industry – started with app store premium games which revolutionised game development. With Play store on Android and freemium model consolidating in the middle of the decade – the industry moved towards maturity and needed innovation. To summarise this decade has been the best ever for any mobile game developer/publisher.”

Photon Tadpole Studios founder and CEO Hrishi Oberoi says- “In the last decade mobile gaming has grown from its caveman roots to the equivalent of a powerful space faring civilization. To think that 10 years ago Angry Birds was just getting launched, thus propelling the smartphone gaming revolution into the mainstream… Mobile Gaming has evolved considerably since those days, especially because of the various business models that have been driving it. From the early days of Premium games like Angry Birds ruling the space, to the shift to free games with ad networks evolving to the ever present freemium models creating the successes of Clash of Clans and Candy Crush to the new battle-royale flavour of the day with PUBG and Free Fire currently dominating the world. Along the way, we saw the rise of hyper casual games, Social casino dominance and games that make you hard cash with real money gaming also create waves. Who knows what the next decade will bring us?”

Street Lamp Games CEO and founder Deepak Gurijala notes “Exactly 10 years back, it was so tough to find a publisher for any game. Today, publishers are behind many gaming studios for their games. It’s a brilliant decade for indie games and indie studios in mobile gaming space. Technology advancement has given us the best quality of games and super-smooth performance. Standards of premium games have risen to its best and new ways of monetisation were created through  free to play games, which was barely existed 10 years ago. Hyper-casual and super-casual revolution had changed the phase of mobile gaming market past couple of years. Cheaper mobile data has helped gamers to download more games and it also created more scope for developers to create innovative games without any restriction on the space of the game. There is a steep rise in both gamers, streamers and game developers in the market, which is a great sign for the this decade.”

Xigma games founder, designer and developer Himanshu Manwani shares, “We saw the rise of mobile gaming industry in this decade. Mobile gaming started to gain popularity with the introduction of smartphones. Digital distribution paved the path and made it possible for anyone to be able to release their own game.

Angry birds, Fruit Ninja, Temple run, were some of the early success on these smartphones. Since then the mobile gaming space has changed and grown immensely. With the increase in popularity of in-app purchases and freemium model, the mobile gaming industry has become the leading platform when it comes to revenue. As new smartphones have become more affordable with better capabilities to render high graphics with cheap data rates now available, anyone around the country can play along or compete with other players online in multiplayer games which have been huge driving force in the growth of mobile gaming market. Social features are on the rise and multiplayer gives the option to players to play along with their friends. Currently, games like PUBG, Fornite, Call of Duty Mobile are hugely popular because of these social features and capability to play with friends.

The mobile gaming market will continue to grow and social features and multiplayer options will play pivotal role to drive growth of the mobile market.”

Holy Cow Production  director of game development Goutham Dindukurthi believes that ‘the mobile gaming spaces has changed leaps and bounds in past decade! From Angry Birds to Candy Crush and games such as Monument Valley and Alto’s Adventure we have seen incredible experiences for mobile gamers.’ We have also seen a great change in the mobile hardware with the newer devices being so powerful to run high quality games with multiplayer support as well.”

Ogre Head Studio co-founder and director, Zainuddin Fahad who is not from mobile gaming sector but  being a gaming professional he has observed mobile gaming sector closely believes, “The mobile gaming space has grown significantly. There are many companies that have sprung up and doing great in mobile gaming space and the quality have also improved. I hope in 2020s there are more hardcore games of various genres including RPGs and not just limited casual or hyper casual.”

Speaking of the growth of mobile gaming sector we were curious to know about the audience’s preference, because audience engagement in a game results the success of the game. And over the time we all know preferences alter with time; as we all have witnessed the time where sub surfer players evolved as CoD Mobile player. To figure out the current scene we asked few of them about audience’s preference:

Dindukurthi added, “It is hard to say if the audience’s preferences have changed but the sheer number of people that are now playing, gives games in all the genres a chance to succeed! Although we see a lot of freemium games taking the bulk of the share, there are quite a few successful premium games as well including a few games made by our own Indian studios.”

Oberoi elucidates, “Audience’s preferences have evolved based on widespread data availability, faster processors as well as rapidly evolving business models. Early on in the decade, games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja, simpler casual games which required much less data to download and were one-time standalone purchases were very popular. Slowly, as mobile publishers adapted to the try-and-buy and eventually to the freemium business model, Mid-Core games like Clash of Clans became successful. This gave rise to a mobile gaming audience which would easily adapt to hardcore games, paving the way for the current success like PUBG and Free Fire, regardless of its 1GB+ file size. New trends such as Real Money Gaming and esports now look to further disrupt the market and spread the audience out a lot more.”

Tandon notes, “I don’t believe people will ever stop playing hyper casual games as any industry matures more people will move towards midcore and hardcore games but casual games will always have an audience. Infact 2019 saw revival of hyper casual genre.”

As the mobile gaming industry is completely dependent on the changing technology, more and more changes are expected in the future to change the mobile gaming landscape.