VFX With more domestic IPs, paid users, and government support, Indian gaming industry is anticipated to propel even further in 2023 -

With more domestic IPs, paid users, and government support, Indian gaming industry is anticipated to propel even further in 2023

For many Indians, gaming has evolved into a significant aspect of enjoyment, as well as a practical means of subsistence. The video game business is rapidly moving toward producing games that will become popular both in India and around the world. Today India has players of mixed age groups which isn’t limited to millennials. According to Lumikai’s latest report titled, State of India Gaming FY 2022, 507 million gamers in India today, the country has reached the half-billion mark. Nearly one-fourth of those, or 120 million, are paying customers.

Justin Shriram Keeling

Lumikai founding general partner Justin Shriram Keeling said, “India’s gaming industry this year hit major inflection points, registering strong growth across the board. India crossed half a billion gamers in FY22, up from 450 Mn the year prior. Industry growth is expected to be fuelled by a rapidly increasing gamer base, higher conversion to paid users, and increasing sophistication of Indian gamers. With the market now truly mainstream, we are thrilled to be at the forefront of investing in one of the fastest growing and most dynamic sectors in digital India.”

According to FICCI EY report 2021-2022, titled Tuning into consumer, the online gaming industry expanded by 28 per cent in 2021 to reach Rs 101 billion, despite regulatory uncertainties and people returning to work as the pandemic’s impacts subsided. There were 390 million online gamers in 2020, an eight per cent increase. Gaming revenues made up more than 70 per cent of the segment. At a CAGR of 15 per cent, the online gaming market is anticipated to reach Rs 153 billion by 2024.

Sridhar Thirunakara

Gaming accessories business also saw a significant rise in 2022. Said Arctic Fox founder and MD Sridhar Thirunakara, “All through 2022, the gaming industry continued to grow and there were many new gaming accessories being introduced in the Indian market. Within Arctic Fox, the gaming product category has seen 2X growth this year and continues to look very positive in 2023 as well. We have been working on developing the gaming TWS range of products indigenously and we are all set to launch a series of Gaming Audio products in 2023.” 

On the other hand, India is becoming more aware of the Web3 revolution as a result of developers’ interest in the industry and the emergence of enterprises. According to Lumikai report, Web3 emerged as an increasingly popular technology in games, with 30 per cent of 450 Indian Web3 companies operating in gaming. Web3 games in India have raised ~$400M in funding (2019-22). 

Additionally, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) invited the stakeholders to talk about the regulatory issues in the gaming industry. Minister of state in MeitY,  Rajeev Chandrasekhar, presided over the meetings. The ministry even met with players to get their opinions on various issues of regulation. MEITY revealed that it has added a section devoted to “matters relating to online gaming.” The government also established a task force with industry stakeholders as members to recommend ways to support the sector. The draft policy for the same has been submitted to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the policy will be revealed during the budget announcement in February. These actions demonstrate the government’s commitment to the multibillion dollar industry.

Here is what industry experts said regarding the year 2022, their growth in 2022, and their goals for 2023:

Reboot Game Studios co-founder and CEO Tanu Jain

Tanu Jain

“Covid induced lockdown in the year 2020-21 resulted in the tremendous growth of the gaming industry but continuous tech advancements in the industry have propelled this growth in the year 2022 and continue to do so.  Not only did the number of gamers rise by 12 per cent as compared to 2021, making it close to 50 crore but the gaming market hit  $2.6 billion in FY22 as per the report released by Lumikai. The growth further attracted investment from global game developers such as Krafton that invested in multiple Indian gaming companies like Nautilus Mobiles, Lila Games among others.

We at Reboot Game Studios witnessed 2X growth in 2022 as compared to the last year while adding some of the global game developer giants to our existing clientele. The year has been special in many ways for us, not only did we strengthen and expand our team but moved to a bigger space, which is exciting for all of us. Some exciting plans are in the pipeline for the next year and we are looking forward to it.”

UnderDOGS Studio partner and Culttales Interactive founder and CEO Vaibhav Chavan 

Vaibhav Chavan

If we speak about the Indian gaming industry specifically, the game development industry has grown significantly, from the expansion of larger corporations to the entry of smaller developers making innovative games. We also saw a small pool of indies revealing some very ambitious games they are working on which really showcases the potential of India.

Earlier this year, we started building a sizable product called Storypix under our new entity Culttales Interactive. Storypix is a UGC led interactive storytelling platform for India. We have completed a few investment rounds for the project, and we are currently focusing on its expansion and monetisation. The platform currently boasts over 100 hours of content with over 200K users and 30 mins average engagement time daily. We will be opening up UGC for creators and storytellers across the country to start making their own stories on Storypix in early 2023. 2023 is power packed with a strong roadmap for Storypix. We are in the process of closing a pre-series. We will also be introducing some amazing features on the platform in 2023, build a local community of Storytellers in India on social media and start monetising the platform. Overall, it seems that Storypix has a strong and ambitious vision for the future and is working to make progress towards achieving its goals. There will be a lot more surprises related to and overlap between celebrities, television shows, films and Storypix in 2023. We should wait for it.”

Yudiz Solutions chairman and director Bharat Patel 

Bharat Patel

“We rolled out numerous blockchain gaming products. The product utilised the smart contract development and crypto wallet development features of blockchain. It allowed the product to provide secure financial transaction services. Most of our efforts were invested in expanding ourselves and catering modern development projects in the metaverse, gaming, blockchain industries. We saw a good synergy between blockchain and gaming as we were introduced with blockchain based ‘Play to earn’ model for gaming. The compound effect of these synergy was the rise of new kind of gamers and users who were earning while showcasing their interests. Blockchain has made the gaming industry more secure and scalable by introducing amazing concepts. 

Metaverse on the other hand is still in early stages of development, people need to understand the concept and just like blockchain gaming once they are aware about how the financial system will work inside the metaverse as well as outside it, I think they will start to become more interested in the concept.”

Salone Sehgal

Lumikai founding general partner Salone Sehgal 

“The last 28 months have been watershed years in terms of attracting VC investment of over $2.6B in the Indian gaming landscape. Sustained capital investment and liquidity outcomes in the form of strategic exits valuing $750M+, multiple unicorns, and a publicly traded company have heightened the interests of entrepreneurs and investors alike. This sustained momentum should further drive entrepreneurial ambition and innovation in the Indian gaming industry.”

SuperGaming co-founder and CEO Roby John 

“2022 has been a year of learning for us, putting into practice and iterating on our player and community-first approach to making games at scale. 

Unlike other game companies that outsource their marketing communication efforts to external agencies, SuperGaming’s marketing for Indus, Silly Royale, MaskGun, and other titles is done in-house. To do this, we embed ourselves within gaming communities, talk to them about what they want, what resonates with them, what can be avoided, and what can be done better. This plays out both online and offline. The former usually happens via social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Yes, we read the comments. The latter is via in-person meetings — both informal and formal — the most recent example of this was our second community playtest for our upcoming battle royale, Indus. Prior to Indus, we’ve honed this approach with our last two games, MaskGun and Silly Royale at a grassroots level.

Roby John

So why do we do this? Given the nature of the video games business, it’s necessary to have marketing and communications aligned with the vision of game developers and more importantly, see if that vision works with audiences. Furthermore, ensuring the creator vision — aesthetic, gameplay, features, and design — works and resonates with audiences is extremely important at every stage of the game development process. Validating design choices, features, and even visuals is crucial in making what players want. 

Our social deduction game Silly Royale hit 20 million players while our flagship title MaskGun has about 65 million players. Upcoming efforts like our battle royale Indus saw us go to Bengaluru Comic Con and build on our player and community-first ethos by working hand-in-hand with our audience along with launching our first trailer on New York’s Time Square on 15 August. All of these games are powered by our in-house engine, the SuperPlatform — which we launched on Google Cloud this year as well so other developers can be empowered to build out the best possible vision of their games too. 

In 2023 we expect gaming to be deeply content creator-led and personality-driven. The confluence of game development expertise and content creator-powered distribution will ensure games are perceived as genuine, earnest efforts — necessary to breakthrough and make an honest connection with players and the community as a whole. Simply put: the future of games is focusing on their human elements.”

Lakshya Digital CEO and founder Manvendra Shukul

Manvendra Shukul

As one of the world’s leading game art studios, Lakshya continued to see strong growth through the year with 25 per cent growth in employee strength, 37 per cent revenue growth, the addition of a new studio in Bengaluru and the further strengthening of its production team in the UK. Some major titles that we had worked on, and which were released in 2022, included Elden Ring, Callisto Protocol, Lost Survivors, Sniper Elite 5, Deathverse: Let it Die and Valkyrie Elysium. We continue to have a strong pipeline of projects and we expect 2023 to be another strong year. Something really close to our heart is the growth and expansion of the game art fraternity in India. To this end, we are in the process of partnering with governmental bodies (including the Skill Council) to make world class game art training accessible to a much larger number of students across the country. Look forward to some exciting news from us on this front in 2023!”

GameEon Studios CEO Nikhil Malankar 

Nikhil Malankar

“2022 was fantastic. We saw wholesome growth in terms of gaming being accepted in better regards and an overall acceptance for games industry careers. Esports was also something that grew at grassroots level and established a strong foundation for growth ahead. We saw a tremendous amount of excitement for the products that we’re building along with our flagship game Mumbai Gullies getting an amazing response at IGDC in Hyderabad. This was an amazing year for us! Esports as an industry is extremely promising and shows potential for gamers and makers to come together and collaborate on many exciting opportunities. It will also be exciting to see all the cutting edge tech that sprouted in 2022 taking shape in better form.”

JetSynthesys CEO gaming division Anuj Tandon 

Anuj Tandon

“2023 is a year of unlocking the next stage of growth for the industry. While there is a gap in the market due to the absence of a well-liked Battle Royale game and the game publishers’ push for esports competitions, 2023 will see the release of new games and the opening of new rosters for games that attempt to launch not only in the Battle Royale genre but in other genres as well. The investment of businesses throughout the esports ecosystem (TOs, Streaming platforms, and more) is another trend that will persist. This will cause some market consolidation and larger businesses to seek outside of India for expansion prospects. We are all looking forward to the new year to see what awaits us.”

The gaming industry has grown dramatically in 2022. In 2023, we may expect to see the industry in even better shape thanks to increased game creation, technological growth, a web3-ready ecosystem, finance, and employment.