India’s gaming industry underwent a major makeover in the early 1990s with the birth of video game consoles developed by Nintendo and Sega, as well as the establishment of arcade games-based video game parlours. This initiated the advent of online gaming in early 2000s, when several middle-income gamers got access to digital gaming platforms via consoles and PCs.
Games such as Call of Duty, FIFA, Counter Strike and DOTA known for their high quality, action, and multiplayer themes, were developed in the western markets, but also attracted Indian gamers who had access to a PC and an internet connection. The rise of social media platforms in mid-2000s further opened the gates of gaming across age, gender and socio-economic groups to a larger percentage of Indians, case in point, Facebook’s Farmville and Mafia Wars that got millions of Indians hooked. And finally, the smartphone revolution, 2010 onwards, provided easy access to pre-embedded games and applications that enabled easy discovery and monetization.
Today, the industry has come full circle with PC gaming taking center stage yet again. As the global economy rides the wave of digital transformation, the global gaming industry is growing fast; in 2017, its valuation was $108.9 billion, with a year-on-year (YoY) growth of 7.8 percent. Of this YoY growth, 47 percent was contributed by the Asia Pacific region – with India ranking 17th globally, valued at $818 million and 11.14 percent CAGR. With India’s youth population standing at over 350 million, it is one of the largest markets for the global gaming industry.
PC Gaming on the Rise in India
PC gaming is fast becoming a favorable choice among gaming enthusiasts, and this shift can be attributed to factors such as young population, quality of game play, affordability, availability of top-end hardware and software, and improved internet bandwidth.
With more than 60 percent of the population below 35 years of age, India has the largest potential market for gaming; plus, the digital payment penetration, and low propensity to pay for entertainment and gaming, is expected to improve with a projected increase of 65 percent in disposable income by 2021.
Among the traditional gamers, PC gaming is seen as being a far superior experience compared to dedicated consoles, because the graphic and visual quality on the former platform is more enriching and advanced. These specialized laptops are also portable, and relatively easier to handle. Another important aspect in PC gaming is the storage capacity, as gamers are constantly looking for hardware that would enable them to store the maximum number of games and other preloaded files for uninterrupted play. In fact, the potential is enough for global PC makers, who have forayed into manufacturing gaming PCs that, till now, were primarily manufactured by pure gaming hardware makers.
The influx of 4G and Fiber to The Home (FTTH) technology have also given India’s gaming online gaming community a major boost, with competitive prices that have benefitted both, companies and gamers. 4G has resulted in an increase in mobile gaming while FTTH has improved the service quality by providing high speed internet connection. Gaming cafes and colleges are sprouting across tier-2 cities, with most tournaments being hosted at colleges due to the availability of stable infrastructure.
Worldwide, Fortnite, PUBG, Overwatch, League of Legends, Cuisine Royale, etc., are few of the popular games that providing a far more surreal and personalized multiplayer gaming experience than ever before. “Made-In-India” games such as Alter Army, The Last Train, Missing: The Complete Saga, and Raji: An Ancient Epic, have also caught the audience’s attention.
Future of PC Gaming in India
From joystick to gesture play, PC gaming has undergone many avatars. Many upcoming hardware, software and technological developments are expected to put the Indian PC gaming industry on the global map.
Always Connected PCs (ACPC) are changing the game with the incredible battery life, instant-on power, and pervasive connectivity for PCs that it provides to users and is expected to enter the Indian gaming markets soon. Increasing interest of gamers towards eSports and other electronic games is expected to further boost computer gaming market in India in the coming years. As per global research firm SuperData, eSports drew 258 million unique viewers globally in 2017, and the esports industry is expected to hit $2 billion in revenue by 2021.
Gamification is also seeing widespread acceptance in training, education and skill development. Video streaming platforms are entering into long term collaborations, such as the Facebook-ESL Global tie-up, and the Hotstar-Mountain Dew Arena, among others, bound to take gaming to another level.
Technology infrastructure is also undergoing a dramatic overhaul with telecom players and tier-A ISPs offering broadband services and seamless connectivity to servers, in turn providing the gamers with high powered internet connectivity that is much needed for gaming.
In addition to the trends above, India is fast becoming the hub jobs in the field of game development, game support services, etc. One can foresee that the country would soon be on the world map as the center for development, porting and dubbing of various games across the globe, with highly skilled, innovative and competitively priced game developers armed with world-class quality and game development experience.
There is no doubt in my mind that India is moving towards consumption and comprehensive local development of the gaming industry, driven by aspects such as an increase in disposable income, pocket-friendly new technologies, localized games, ubiquitous Internet, expanding digital payment user base, and growth in local developer ecosystem.
Prakash Mallya is the Managing Director, Sales & Marketing Group at Intel India