The Market of Gaming Startups In India

What is driving people to play games? What future lies ahead for the gaming startups in India?


The love for playing games in Indians begins in the evening or right after dinner, when family members gather around a carrom board or Ludo. Gradually, as families broke into nuclear the carrom boards became a distant memory and soon the games were replaced by PC games which further were replaced by mobile gaming apps, which ushered in the rise of gaming startups in India. A KPMG report projects that the Indian online gaming industry is to get 190 million gamers and become a market worth $1 billion in 2021. According to a report, released by boutique investment bank, Maple Capital Advisors titled ‘Gaming India Story’ the gaming industry will be growing at a CAGR of 22%

The online gaming apps witnessed a meteoric rise during the pandemic. With a work from home model, and no access to clubs, gyms, or other recreational activities the individuals resorted to unrest their thumbs. Though the Tencent-owned game PUBG was dominating the online gaming market, the Indian online gaming apps were no behind. Founded in 2016 by Vikash Jaiswal, Ludo King that is a replica of our favourite childhood board game Ludo, emerged as one of the most installed mobile games in April. As per app intelligence firm, Sensor Tower Ludo King app received download volumes of 48.3 million during April -June that surpassing PubG with 30.8 million new installs.

Sports fantasy gaming apps like Dream11 too became a part of the volume downloads after it sponsored the IPL 2020 after the exit of Chinese firms sponsoring the same. According to a report by KPMG and the India Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG), there are about 20 million fantasy gamers in India right now, a gigantic jump from two million users of such games in 2016. Dream 11 allows users to earn cash by creating imaginary teams by betting on players actual match performances.

What is driving the online gaming startups in India?

As more and more Gen Z population is entering the workforce, there is a rise in disposable income to own a smartphone. According to a 2019 Bloomberg report, India is projected to have a Gen Z population of 472 million.  An average gamer profile in India is of 24 years. The discovery of game apps and their download is largely driven by friends and peer groups. The youngsters’ engagement with online games is to relieve stress and increase interaction.

Gen Z and millennials are tech-savvy and are always connected with their cell phones. As per Neilson’s study more than a quarter of individuals below 24 years are highly inclined towards online gaming and spend an average time of 55 min/day.

Apart from the high penetration of affordable smartphones and internet plans now reaching every part of the country, the future seems bright for gaming startups in India since its introduction of a freemium model that leads to more downloads, creating better economics.

Online gaming startups are also transforming the traditional social Indian games to digital for the masses, which became one of the major reasons for Ludo King’s increased downloads. It transformed a traditional board game into a digital one that encouraged family and friends to play in the same ecosystem.  The game was built on nostalgia to which many could connect with it.

Technologies like AI, augmented reality and virtual reality for the gaming startups to build and thrive became affordable, and also the local developer ecosystem is increasing that gives a push to the gaming startups to come up with unique games.

The Rise of Female Gamers

According to a report from Think with Google APAC-Play like a girl report, 2020, The online gaming arena is witnessing a huge influx of female gamers and is rapidly increasing than male gamers. In general, there is a perceived notion that females are shy of playing online games.

Online gaming is also now becoming a lucrative career option. Many professional online gamers are competing on a global level to win prize money from e-sports tournaments, receiving salaries from professional teams, creating content on YouTube channels to give reviews on tournaments, and training aspiring gamers as well.

The creation of content and gaming is expected to add thrust to the gaming industry, hence the future of gaming startups seems bright in India.

Shalmoli Sarkar
Shalmoli Sarkar
An MBA in marketing and a BTech in chemical engineering, Shalmoli writes on marketing strategies and business technology for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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