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Why has the Indian market emerged as a huge opportunity for game companies of every size? There are dozens of factors to be considered when evaluating opportunities for entering into new markets. But key factors affecting growth rates and ranking are the size and engagement of the potential audience, along with the number of local game developers, says Yulia Mikhailova, Payments Business Development Lead at Xsolla. In all three areas, India is blowing the competition away.
First, the region has entered the world’s top 10 game markets by revenue, taking sixth place, and leaving France and Germany behind, the two big whales. In 2019, the online video game market was about 65 billion rupees, or approximately $850 million. In 2020 it crossed $1 billion, and it’s valued at $1.83 billion now, exceeding estimations by almost a billion dollars. And it will become a $4 billion opportunity by 2026.
Secondly, there are more than 400 million people playing online video games in India – that translates to 31% of the entire population. And that means 13% of online video gamers worldwide, or every tenth gamer in the world, is based in India. Moreover, the number of players is predicted to grow by more than 50%, to reach more than 600 million gamers by 2025. And as an indicator of how engaged potential users are, India’s taken third place, right after China and Vietnam, in terms of average weekly hours spent on online video games. That’s around nine hours per week, which is higher than the global average.
The last indicator is the number of local game developers, which indicates how competitive the local market is, and how easy it is for new entries to gain a foothold. The number of companies stands at more than 400 right now, up from only 25 back in 2010. However, that’s peanuts compared to the global giants like the U.S. or European countries, where there are millions of game developers.
Simply put, India is a market that should be considered by foreign developers and publishers precisely because the majority of top game downloads there are from foreign publishers. Every month, India users download more than 1 billion apps from the Play store.
Mikhailova points to three big foreign publisher successes, including Zynga’s Rangoli Rekha, developed specifically for Indian audiences. Piggybacking on patriotic sentiments and national elements, Zynga incorporated traditional Rangoli patterns, which decorate the floors of Indian houses, and linked the game to Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Kiloo’s Subway Surfers was released in India with Mumbai street levels, and replaced western foliage with lotus flowers, the national flower of India. And Clash of Clans, which became one of the top-grossing games in India, became a massive success without any visual localization.
“The Indian game market has been dominated by western publishers for years, and as a result the audience has gotten used to western games and themes,” Mikhailova says.
Mikhailova also notes that language isn’t a barrier in India, as it can be in many other global markets, since not only does the Indian constitution recognize 22 major languages, English is spoken quite commonly. That makes it far easier for Western developers to enter the market with English localization first.
She also points out four major enablers or indicators of growth. The first is how rapidly the younger population is growing, with 26% between 24 and 40 years old. And over 55% of working-age Indian gamers are potentially paying users. Disposable income is also on the rise, increasing by 30% over the last four or five years, which means Indians are potentially ready to spend more on entertainment, including online video games. The third factor is the rapidly increasing number of smartphones: India has the second most smartphone users in the world after China, which means the market for mobile games is huge.
Finally, another indication that the market is ripe for growth is the adoption of digital payments. The local government has been implementing cashless policies, introducing new local digital payment methods like RuPay card network, local digital wallets (Paytm wallet, Mobikwik, PhonePe, etc) and more. All of these are making the payments experience smoother, more secure, and more rewarding for end customers.
Monetization approaches and revenue streams
For western developers, there are a number of ways to build and monetize a successful game in India, but the popularity of the smartphone means the mobile games market is booming. Mobile users make up about 85% of the market, followed by PC at about 11%, and then console users at 4%.
“Entering India, you should think about launching mobile games first,” Mikhailova notes. “Plus, as an advantage, mobile games require lower development costs, and they’re quicker to release.”
To learn more about launching into the Indian market, user acquisition and retention and more, don’t miss this VB Live event.
Register here for free.
You’ll learn about:
- The lowest barriers to enter for new developers
- The challenges that face new competitors – and how to overcome them
- The top-performing monetization strategies for the market
- Building dependable revenue streams
- Establishing a solid, secure payments strategy
- Florent Vallauri, Managing Director, South Asia Pacific, Gameloft
- Girish Menon, Partner and Head, Media and Entertainment, KPMG India
- Yulia Mikhailova, Payments Business Development Manager, Xsolla
- Mike Minotti, Reviews Editor, GamesBeat (moderator)