Game on! Digital Gaming, we mean

24 Feb,2021

 

By Our Staff

The Indian gaming market stands at USD 930 million today and the industry is predicted to soon grow bigger than the music, movie and television industries put together, according to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Ikigai Law, titled ‘Unpacking a Billion Dollar Industry: Digital Sports & Games in India’.

According to the report, the industry presents a promising future and can be a key pillar of India’s digital ecosystem. This Report puts in perspective the value of digital games and sports for our society and economy. Hence, the report strongly suggests legal and policy changes that could help unlock the industry’s true potential.

The report finds that there has been a rapid investment in the Indian gaming industry. India’s gaming industry has attracted approximately USD 900 million between 2014 and 2020. Marquee investors such as Sequoia and Softbank are key investors in Indian market, and the government also investing in the sector. The Karnataka government has set up an INR 20 crore fund for animation, visual effects, and gaming.

Digital games and sports industry has opened numerous job opportunities in India with close to 23,000 gaming-based job openings in India, with annual salary packages ranging from INR 3 lakh to over INR 40 lakhs. Jobs for game design, technology, marketing, sales, data analysis, among others, have emerged. The industry has also created ancillary jobs for live streamers, coaches, mentors, sport therapists, and marketing agents.

Here’s the executive summary of the report:

From their humble beginning as pixelated games in the 1950s, digital games and sports have evolved into a USD 150 billion global industry. The Indian market is nearing the USD 1 billion mark. Smartphones brought heavy and complex games closer to audiences and have made them more immersive. At the same time, digital payments and other technological innovations propelled the industry’s growth. Consequently, the industry has garnered the attention of policy makers, world leaders, economists, industrialists, businesses, and educationalists. Digital games are also increasingly being viewed as more than recreation.

Gamification, for instance, has become a growth driver in many key sectors like education, health, business administration, and governance. The Covid-19 pandemic further highlighted the social value of digital games, and how they help forge human connections in the time of ‘social isolation’. The industry has created  employment and attracted foreign investment, making it a crucial part of the national economic revival.

 

The industry presents a promising future and can be a key pillar of India’s digital ecosystem. This Report puts in perspective the value of digital games and sports for our society and economy. In this Report, we describe the different types of digital games and sports and present key trends in the industry. We counter some of the negative societal perceptions around gaming. We also intend for this to be a starting point for legal and policy changes that could help unlock the industry’s true potential.

 

 

Categories of Digital Games & Sports

 

Digital games and sports are played for several reasons, ranging from recreation and learning, to competitive play, earning money, and better sports engagement. For your convenience, we have split the digital games and sports industry into 4 (four) categories: casual games, other e-competitions, esports, and fantasy sports.

 

We use the umbrella term ‘digital games and sports,’ or simply ‘digital games,’ to encapsulate the wide range of games and sports. Casual games and other e-competitions fit the mould of a ‘digital game’. And esports are closer to ‘digital sports’. Fantasy sports, on the other hand, are a unique category in itself (associated closely with sports). This Report unpacks each of these segments.

 

 

GROWTH DRIVERS FOR THE INDIAN INDUSTRY

 

Emergence of mobile-first games

Availability of cheap smartphones and affordable data has revolutionised mobile gaming in India, forecasted to grow to USD 1.1 billion by 2020. More than 43% of mobile users engage with at least one digital game.

 

India has more than 500 million smartphone users today with forecasts to reach 859 million by 2021. Among these, mobile gamers are projected to reach 368 million by 2022.

 

Growth of digital games as spectator sports

Esports and other e-competitions command a loyal fanbase and are emerging as spectator sports. Globally, esports viewership is expected to compete with and possibly surpass traditional sporting events by 2021.

Gaming tournaments have also emerged with televised competitions like UCypher and stadium events like the 2019 PUBG Mobile Club Open in Mumbai that was attended by over 5000 people.

 

Increased marketing spends by gaming companies

Companies rely on various marketing modes to attract users and promote their brands. Dream11 spent INR 222 crore to bag the title sponsorship rights for the 13th Indian Premier League. And Mobile Premier League became the official kit sponsor for Indian men’s cricket team. Brands also on-board celebrities for endorsement. MS Dhoni, for instance, is the brand ambassador for Dream11 and PokerStars, and Sourav Ganguly promotes fantasy sports platform My11Circle.

 

Use of digital games as marketing platforms

Games based on movie adaptations such as Dhoom 3: the game, Fan: the game, and The Sultan help create interest in the underlying movie and its songs. Digital games are also used to create awareness and social impact like the Chhota Bheem Swachh Bharat Run inspired from the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

 

Emergence of local gaming content

India’s push for ‘Vocal for Local’ and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emphasis on games based on Indian culture has pushed local games and regional gaming content to rise. The recent ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge’ saw games like Hitwicket Superstars, World Cricket Championship 2, and Scarfall: The Royale Combat emerge as winners. Digital version of traditional games like Carrom Clash and Ludo King are

also quite popular with monthly average users crossing the millions.

 

 

ECONOMIC GROWTH THROUGH DIGITAL GAMES AND SPORTS

 

The Indian gaming market stands at USD 930 million today. The industry is predicted to soon grow bigger than the music, movie, and television industries put together. Investments in the sector have grown rapidly.

 

Indian start-ups have boomed while local companies have also collaborated with global gaming brands. The industry has created significant employment opportunities. It has also given rise to allied professions.

 

 

Rapid investments in the Indian gaming industry

 

India’s gaming industry has attracted about USD 575 million between 2014 and 2020 (excluding USD 225 million raised by Dream11 and USD 90 million raised by Mobile Premier League recently). Marquee investors such as Sequoia and Softbank are key investors in Indian market, whereas Indian investors are investing in gaming markets outside India. The government has also emerged as an investor in the sector, with the Karnataka government setting up an INR 20 crore fund for animation, visual effects, and gaming.

 

 

The rise of Indian game developers

India has 275 game development companies with over 15000 game developers. Around 5468 Indian game publishers are present on the Google Play Store offering 19518 games across categories. India is also a global talent hub for the gaming industry. International studios like Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Nvidia, and Zynga already have centres in India. With ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’, promoting Indian game developers will create huge returns and help India position itself as a market leader in gaming.

 

 

Job opportunities

 

Digital games and sports industry have emerged as a leading employer. There are close to 23,000 gaming-based job openings in India, with annual salary packages ranging from INR 3 lakhs to over INR 40 lakhs.

 

Jobs for game design, technology, marketing, sales, data analysis, among others, have emerged. The industry has also created ancillary jobs for live streamers, coaches, mentors, sport therapists, and marketing agents.

 

 

Revenue generation and tax collection

 

Huge investments and rapid revenue generation in the industry can create sizable tax income for the exchequer, a rising trend in foreign countries. Collaboration between Indian game developers and foreign gaming companies also brings foreign exchange into the country.

 

 

NEED FOR AN ENABLING LEGAL AND POLICY FRAMEWORK

 

Every industry needs a robust legal framework to grow and digital gaming is no different. India’s gaming sector faces uncertain laws that are inconducive to innovation. While changes in state gambling laws create uncertainty, the inability of the law to address issues around tax, intellectual property, and content pushes companies to rehash business models. At the same time, unlike its global counterparts, India is yet to focus on the skilfulness of its labour that can fit into the gaming industry. We are also behind in leveraging the

potential of gamification to boost key economic sectors. While fantasy sports can open a new dimension to sports engagement, recognition and promotion of esports as a profession will help to create global esports athletes from India.

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