India comes among the top five mobile gaming markets in the world and is said to have 300 million gamers in FY 19 according to a report by Google-KPMG on online gaming. With coronavirus pandemic, the online gaming business has been skyrocketing as everyone is spending time one or the other way too by playing games with DAU (daily active users) rates surpassing but will it continue to do so even after the lockdown is over? Let’s dive into this to figure out exactly where the gaming businesses are right now and what experts are predicting where it will be after lockdown:
Current Scene of the gaming business:
A lot of gaming traffic has been noticed throughout the lockdown period from new users approaching in gaming to hours spent by users.> Next Wave Multimedia co-founder and CEO Rajendran PR said in their cricket time spent have gone up average user session time has gone up by 25 per cent number of new users have increased with 30 per cent more
Daily active users have increased including the number of downloaded installs’ have increased.
> For example Individual mobile game like LUDO king has recently crossed 50mn DAU with the daily installation of 20 to 25 mn during lockdown according to Gametion founder Vikash Jaiswal.>Even Platforms like Paytm First Games has witnessed 200 percent growth in the last one month, with over 75,000 new users joining the platform every day according to Paytm First Games COO, Sudhanshu Gupta.
Gaming platforms which have social activity integrated like chatting video call integration have witnessed a skyrocketing growth in gaming business.> For example on Winzo gaming platform activity on the social features of the app such as video and audio usage during gameplay has doubled. And thus games with Vs-Mode on the app has observed a 35 per cent spike considering people are playing with their friends online amid the lockdown according to WINZO spokesperson
. In terms of actual content consumption globally we have seen 20 per cent to 30 per cent increase in terms of downloads as well as monetisation and as well as in India it is much more xtimes according to 99 games CEO Rohith Bhat.
Active investors’ interest has been witnessed with a close stare towards the business and are communicating more to check the updates which did not happen earlier. The similar thing has been faced by Bhat and Next Wave Multimedia co-founder and CEO Rajendran PR and others.
According to Yozoo Games India CEO Anuj Tandon believes casual games have 50 per cent drop in CPI (cost per install) and correspondingly even eCPM (effective cost per mille) for ad dependent businesses. We are definitely seeing approximately 60 per cent drop on eCPM as well, so there is a good time to acquire may not so good time to monetise.
Leaders like Tandon, Bhat and others believe it is a good time to explore and experiment with innovation as the market is hungry for new fresher content to spend the time during lockdown.>According to Rajendran if a developer’s game is nicely placed and if you know it can do better it is the right time to experiment and invest small budgets to check how receptive the market is for products.
It is the right time to know the market well as most of the digital gaming is running in demonetisation, therefore there is lack of noise so one gets a chance to talk to the customers and the customers can use the product which actually opens the opportunity to interact with the customers and do the research which might help post lockdown according to MPL co-founder and CEO Sai Srinivas.
Tandon also noticed “if we look at all the YouTubers right now they have all become game streamers suddenly in India.All YouTubers have started playing and streaming games that is the cultural change that is happening”
Experts prediction: Where the gaming market will be post lockdown?
It is very unpredictable to get into conclusion that the market will be in favour to the businesses or not, in fact, it is very early. But while accounting the recent numbers the business marketers have made assumptions, this is what they have to say:
Ranjendran believes people are now showing interest and it is on top of their mind and they are picking up on habits they are spending more time playing games. Therefore the habit formation will stay with the audience even after lockdown as it has become their crucial mode of entertainment.
Bhat believes that it is a great moment for gaming a company like ‘Apna time aya hai’ (our time has come) and there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic for both in the long term and short term. Therefore investment is happening and this will result in rush of new games coming on the way to feed the audience who have already discovered gaming is the new form of entertainment and consuming that has become a habit.
Tandon believes platforms will have high user retention rates. For example platforms like MPL will benefit more after the lockdown eases off because more mid-core games which has higher d3t (design, develop and deliver technology) in their games. Once they have high users from them they will tend to monetise better and will have long term retention. Even in casual games because of the splurge in downloads will become global brands. Therefore there automatic ASO Ads (App Store optimisation) and search rank will constantly be high not just in India but globally.
Sai describes that “ I think this whole point about the economy getting impacted, I think this is a little far fledged, to be honest right now. This quarter the economical results will be poor no doubt about it. But it doesn’t mean that economy going to be really badly impacted. There are two kinds of businesses in gaming, one – which monetise through ads one which monetises through people who are paying money. You will see a temporary dip, that not gonna sustain for a long long time, now different equation altogether is that if this is going on for like six months or a year, then we have all different things to worry about I guess right. So if this is going on for a month or two, which I think it is then in that case I honestly think that how the economy will be impacted is been overstretched leading to this problem and that problem.”He further emphasised that game development is a wonderful business where fixed cause are next to nothing, businesses that have the variable fixed cause is the one that needs to be really worried about. “If you don’t have a business model then you need to really worry about and figure out the business model but for good games which have already a business model in place, I think they wouldn’t see any drastic impact, of course, there are industries like fantasy or others some other specific industries which might see a little much of impact but conventional gaming I don’t see a lot of issues,” he added.
At the same time, Tandon being pessimistic shares that they don’t think it’s going just a quarterly event, of course, this quarter was bad. This spill over to the next quarter in the Indian economy for sure. “We don’t know how deep it goes in terms of how long the pandemic lasts, we have something like atleast a treatment available, that will give a lot of confidence back. Globally we have seen a fall in artpools it’s slight and the guidance that we are saying for the next quarter is largely very positive, the fall in art pools for midcore games basically more players are playing midcore games from that habit formation is a good thing but that will lead to fall in art pools and slightly less optimistic bench side I feel that two to three more quarter this thing will last and that’s when I feel by after Diwali we could see some sort of economic revival happening .”Lastly he highlighted that there is also a chance of larger problem that which indicates that if at all we go into a deeper in recession or something like that, then the first thing people will cut down on will be on entertainment budgets and that also includes gaming.