We are all aware of the rise of the online gaming industry in India over the past few years. All the leading market analysts believe it is poised for greatness by. A report titled “Gaming – India Story”, published by the investment bank Maple Capital Advisors, states that the industry is expected to grow at 41% annually. The Indian gaming industry, valued at INR 62 Billion in 2019, is set to grow to INR 250 Billion by 2024. Let us take a look at the factors driving this exponential growth.
Why is the Indian gaming industry booming?
- Digital infrastructure: India currently boasts of 650 million active internet users, making it the second-largest online market in the world. The digital infrastructure has also boosted the digital payment market in India. The emergence of players like Paytm, GPay, etc. has made it easier for Indian businesses to accept digital payments. India is expected to have 300 million digital payment users by 2022, which is a big boost to the gaming industry.
- Young population: India is a young country, with over 75% of its population under the age of 45. India has the biggest gaming potential in terms of sheer volume. The rapid urbanization and growing digital infrastructure are supported by the rising disposable income in the hands of the young population of India. This has resulted in higher cash flow into the Indian gaming market.
- Boom in mobile gaming: Until a few years ago, no one would have even considered mobile phones as the preferred platform for gaming. Cut to 2020, 90% of Indian gamers are playing on mobile phones, as per a report titled “The Evolving Landscape of Sports Gaming in India,” published by KPMG. Mobile phones have almost replaced traditional gaming consoles by providing the same excitement with more comfort. Also, mobile phones are a much cheaper alternative to consoles and PCs. This has resulted in mobile phone developers releasing mobile phones suited for a complete gaming experience and the Indian youth becoming more inclined to invest in better handsets.
- Rise of developers: The boom in mobile gaming and the resultant big profits have resulted in a steep rise in the number of game developers in India. Back in 2010, there were just about 25 game developers in India. This number had increased to 250 by 2018. The game developers are working on games that are suited to the needs and interests of the Indian gaming market. This is evident as we see a rise in the number of developers offering games like Indian rummy and teen patti, which are very popular in India.
- Fantasy sports: Online fantasy sports gaming is a form of skill-based online gaming where sports fans create their fantasy teams by selecting real-life players from upcoming matches. The teams then compete with each other on the basis of the players’ performance in real-life matches. Right now India has close to 100 million sports fans playing fantasy sports. This is because fantasy sports enable Indian sports fans to connect with their favorite sport, cricket, in a very realistic way.
Online Fantasy Sports Market in India
The online fantasy sports market reported the revenue of INR 924 crores and was poised for a 2X growth in 2020. The covid-19 pandemic was nothing more than a minor bump in the growth of this market, as it has picked up once again since the restart of international cricket in the month of July. With a user base of almost 100 million sports fans who play 3-4 times a week, online fantasy sports are a very big contributor to the online gaming industry in India. Let us take a look at the driving factors of the popularity of online fantasy sports in India.
- Digital infrastructure: As discussed above, the development of digital infrastructure has contributed to the growth of the online gaming industry in India. It is also responsible for the growth in the number of sports fans in India. Internet access provides users with more in-depth and real-time engagement in their favorite sport. Indians do not just view live matches on their televisions anymore — they have started reading pre-match news and predictions, etc. on the internet. Online communities have been formed for sports fans to discuss their favorite sports. YouTube channels are dedicated to providing an in-depth analysis of the sport. These activities have acted as a catalyst for the online fantasy sports industry.
- The emergence of new cricket leagues: The late 2000s saw a surge in investment in cricket. The introduction of T20 cricket paved the way for domestic cricket gaining mainstream popularity. The Indian Premier League was introduced back in 2008, which kick-started a cricket revolution. Never before had we seen such a hype around a domestic cricket league. Other cricket-playing nations followed suit and the Australian Big Bash, the Caribbean Premier League, the Vitality T20 Blast and many more such leagues were introduced to cricket fans. Cricket fans, who were used to seeing their favorite players play 20-30 times a year, could now see them feature more regularly in these leagues, and that subsequently resulted in the growth of online fantasy sports.
- Investor activity: Investors saw huge potential in the online fantasy sports market, and this gave rise to innovations and partnerships in the online fantasy sports industry. Prominent athletes were signed by online fantasy sports platforms, which made sports fans take notice of these platforms and they subsequently started playing on them.
- Innovations: The biggest reason for the popularity of the fantasy sports industry is the constant innovation made by top fantasy sports platforms like Howzat.
Fantasy sports platforms like Howzat have regularly surprised users with new features apart from hosting classic fantasy cricket contests for the most popular matches taking place around the globe. For example, in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic when no sports events were taking place in the real world, Howzat introduced a new feature called Recall Fantasy, where users could relive some of the best cricket matches from the past. Howzat also introduced a “Beat the Legend” fantasy sports format, where the user’s team is pitched against the team created by a sports legend like Irfan Pathan. Users are excited to play with a cricketing legend and hence are more engaged in the game. Online fantasy sports platforms are also introducing tournament leaderboards, which promise a bigger reward to the user for their prolonged investment in an ongoing tournament.
Online fantasy sports app like Howzat are ensuring with their delightful innovations that they leave no stone unturned to provide the best entertainment to their users. The efforts put in by fantasy sports apps during the global lockdown stand testimony to their commitment to keeping sports fans entertained and making online fantasy sports an even bigger contributor to the growth of the Indian online gaming industry in the coming years.