Games, like in any other part of the world, have played an important role in the history and mythology of India. Be it Lord Shiva and Parvati playing Pachisi, the Pandavas losing Draupadi over a game of dice, or the Mughals enjoying an afternoon of chess.
All Indians have had fond memories growing up playing games, be it board games of Ludo, Snakes & Ladders, monopoly, or scrabble, or indoor games like chess, carom or card games, especially around Diwali. Mobile phones, like other spheres of our life, also revolutionised gaming. As we enter 2018, here are some predictions for Indian gaming in the next year
Democratisation of games to continue
- Mobile phone will continue to revolutionise gaming, making it move from classes to masses. Smartphone shipments breaching the 500-million mark in 2018, with 5X growth in data consumption, will push the total number of mobile gamers to 300 million to 350 million.
An average casual gamer spends 7-10 percent of his mobile time on games, spending a third of his entertainment budget, as per a Google KPMG report. The average Indian gamer continues to be male, between the ag of 16 and 35, playing games across genre, be it sports, arcade, puzzle, action, racing or strategy, as shown by game searches on Google.
While the overall size of the market in 2018 is still refutable, what is very clear is that it will grow at a rapid pace with Chinese behemoths like Alibaba/PayTM, Tencent, Youzu investing in gaming in India.
Social real money games 'hockey stick' growth
- We saw massive growth of social real money games, be it skill-based like poker and rummy, or fantasy sports around cricket and kabaddi.
While at one end the monthly active users grew at breakneck speed, at the other end, they become some of the top grossing games to invest in serious advertising (TV commercials, full page print ads or film associations).
The majority of these gamers are male, above 25 years of age, who spend a huge percentage of their entertainment budget playing these games.
Companies like Games 24X7, Dream11, HeadInfoTech, Adda52, Octro Inc, Junglee Games and Moonfrog Labs stood out, and will continue to grow stronger next year. The year 2018 will see not only several me too of these games, even from international publishers, but also see more fantasy sports games around football, basketball and other sports.
E-sports that augment social online games is another trend to watch out in 2018 as it is now a medal game in Asian Games in 2022 and being considered for Olympics in 2024.
Localization - The Bahubali effect
- Top played games on the play store in India until last year were mostly foreign titles, which was a huge conundrum for Indian developers.
The year 2017 saw games relevant to the Indian context go up the charts, be it board games of Ludo and Snakes & Ladder, to card games like Teen Patti and Callbreak. We also saw Indian IP related games like Bahubali and Sachin Saga as top grossing games of the year. The next year will see several such localisation, be it on Indian IPs of movies and celebrities, politics and cricket players, or Indian relevant sports like Kabaddi.
Monetisation improvement through in-app purchases
- Monetisation has been the holy grail for Indian game developers due to Indians’ low propensity to pay, along with friction to pay.
However, with digitisation, carrier billing and smaller denominations, we saw an uptick towards in-app purchases in 2017. The trend will accelerate next year as barriers, both mindset and financial, will come down. Monetisation through ads, though, will also grow at a larger pace as more and more brands realise they can reach a highly engaged audience in a non-intrusive / interruptive way through native ads.
Pilots of AR/VR games in India | Pokemon-Go follow-up hitting us
- Pokemon Go was invariably the first commercially tremendous successful AR game to hit the market in 2016.
Ninatic Labs, the maker of Pokemon go, will follow it up by Harry Potter AR game in 2018. Apple is shipping AR kits, Google’s ARCore, which is compatible with many new phones, will be shipped next year.
We will see a plethora of AR games hitting us in 2018. VR which is an immersive, 3D virtual environment that user can interact, continues to not live to its hype due to high cost of headsets, coupled with not enough compelling content for it to become mass scale for gaming.
From an Indian context, while few local developers like EmpowerLabs, PaperBoat apps will create games around AR/VR tech, the commercial manifestation of this technology in 2018 will be limited in a controlled environment of a mall or a game parlor. Experience zones like Smaash , Amoeba, Playarena where gamers can experience AR/VR games will be go to places for both casual and serious gamers.
Hence, it is clear that 2018 will be a fascinating year for mobile games and gamers, be it from local success stories, investments, to new age games on AR / VR and eSports.
Game on India!
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)