2019 might have witnessed an economic decline that cut the GDP growth of India down to less than 5%, but the gaming industry in the country was booming stronger than ever, as statistics have proven.

Bolstered by the growth of fantasy gaming, interactive mobile apps, and real-money gaming platforms, 2019 might arguably be recorded as the year when gaming became mainstream in India.

The AIGF predicted in a report that the number of Indian online gamers would cross the 300 million mark before the end of this year.

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The number of Indian online gamers is expected to cross the 300 million mark before the end of this year

Almost 75% of the market is dominated by online gaming platforms, which is projected by Google-KPMG to become a $1.1 billion market with the 628 million gamers by 2021.

Following this trend, game developers in India have also seen a massive spike in number, growing more than tenfold from the 25 studios of 2010 to the 275 of today. Of course, a large part of this occurred after the internet revolution brought about by Reliance Jio in 2016.

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There are 275 game development studios in India nowadays, representing a massive spike compared to the 25 of 2010

KPMG reports that India in its current state is already the biggest emerging market in terms of gaming app downloads with an annual count of almost 3 billion.

Furthermore, over 60% of Indian online gamers belong to the 18-24 age group. This is not very surprising as young users generally have a higher appetite for online games, or more specifically, mobile online games. This is a big factor contributing to the surge of gaming app downloads.

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About 60% of online gamers in India are from 18 to 24 years old

Here are 5 trends that popped up in the gaming industry this year:

Unprecedented growth of action games

KPMG reports that the total amount of time that players spend on action games has increased by 427% in the past year. IAPs, meanwhile, have also risen by 241%. This is allegedly a direct impact of the PUBG sensation that has taken the country by storm for over a year now, bringing more players across all age groups and genders into the action/adventure genre. Other titles like Call of Duty Mobile or Rules of Survival are also catching up with local players.

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The PUBG sensation, which has taken India by storm, has brought more players across all age groups and genders into the action/adventure genre

Rising popularity of fantasy gaming

There are approximately seventy virtual sports platforms in India nowadays, the most notable of which is Tencent’s Dream11. It currently has more than 55 million users and possesses nearly 90% of the market share.

Statistics from the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming show that while there were only 2 million fantasy gamers in India in 2016, this is expected to hit 100 million before 2020. Today, 2 out of 3 Indian sports know about esports or fantasy gaming, and if things continue to move forward as they have been, the segment will hit a revenue of $5 billion by 2021.

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Dream11 is the most notable fantasy sports platform in India right now with 55 million users

This year, the industry enjoyed 2 major events: the IPL 2019 and the ICC Cricket World Cup, both of which served as huge catalysts attracting new users. High-profile investors, both domestic and international, are also pouring in more cash.

Aside from Dream11, other platforms such as MyTeam1, My11Circle, Mobile Premier League, and many more are also jumping on the fantasy gaming bandwagon.

Real-money gaming on the rise

Real-money games is also part of online gaming, but it is its own segment. Platforms like PokerDangal, PokerBaazi, RummyCircle, 9Stacks, or Adda52 have become a sizeable source of income for players. Through this multiplayer format, users to compete online with friends and other players from around the world.

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Real-money online games such as PokerDangal and PokerBaazihave become a sizeable source of income for many players

According to AIGF, 10% of Indian online gamers participate in RMGs, contributing to an industry worth Rs 2,000 crore. The segment is also projected to expand by 3.5 times by 2025.

Interactive apps

Interactive apps first gained popularity in 2018 when Loco – an app similar to HQ Trivia – was introduced in India. It gave rise to a plethora of similar apps: Trivia Live, Qunami, BrainBaazi, Zupee, and more.

These apps, with which users can earn money by doing live quizzes, have proven to be very appealing to many Indians. Now, global giants are also starting to pay more attention to the industry.

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Loco is the first of the many quizz apps available in India today, with which players can earn real money by playing quizzes

Last September, Nazara Technologies made its presence known in the quizzing segment by acquiring a holding stake in Qunami. Before that, Facebook also brought Confetti to India in June, which was an interactive game show where users participate to answer questions for a chance of winning daily cash prizes as high as Rs 3 lakh.

Analysts believe that some consolidation will happen in the industry next year.

Players from smaller cities can also now access games

Until not that long ago, gaming was regarded as a form of entertainment that’s exclusive to citizens of major cities. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth these days. Looking at reports from gaming platforms and apps across the board, the current growth of the industry comes primarily from users from Tier 2 and 3 towns – most likely due to the fact that mobile internet is becoming increasingly cheaper and more accessible.

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The current growth of the Indian gaming industry comes primarily from users from Tier 2 and 3 towns

Statistics reveal that up to 80% of those who engage in regular gaming activities nowadays live in non-metro cities, and forty to sixty percent of the overall gaming population of India resides in Tier 2 or Tier 3 towns.

Cities such as Mangalore, Guwahati, Jaipur, and Bhubaneshwar are reportedly home to countless online gamers. Virtual gaming platforms, in particular, are the leaders of this growth. Moreover, many of these have launched or plan to launch interfaces supporting multiple languages to serve a wider range of audiences.

This trend is not going anywhere anytime soon!