Indian gaming industry to ride on mobile and broadband growth to touch Rs 46 bn by 2016

MUMBAI: The Indian gaming industry is expected to grow from Rs 13 billion to Rs 46 billion by 2016 as it rides on the back of an explosive growth of mobile phones and promise of deeper penetration of broadband.

Console gaming accounted for Rs 7.3 billion (excluding the revenue generated by the grey market) in 2011, mobile gaming earned a revenue of Rs 4.3 billion and package PC and set box gaming made up the remaining , according to a KPMG report.

Last year also marked the arrival of casual and social gaming.

“For the gaming industry to grow, access is very important. The primary reason for the growth in gaming in other countries is access - whether it is the US where consoles were subsidised or China where cyber cafe is visible everywhere. The problem with India is that the mobile connectivity and broadband penetration is still low,” says Indiagames founder & CEO Vishal Gondal.

The mobile market, Gondal believes, will grow further as mobile phones become cheaper. With the increase in offtake of smart phones, the access to data will be easy. Gaming apps in particular have contributed to the growth of mobile gaming as accessing games is just a click away.

According to XMG Studio founder & CEO Ray Sharma, the gaming industry is on the cusp of transition with more and more people accessing games from their mobile phones. The amount of time users spent on mobile has exceeded that of mobile.

“There is a shift from console to the mobile device. Very soon, we will see the tablet processing power exceed that of console games. This transition is similar to what we witnessed in the 90s when arcade was replaced by consoles,” he opines.

Unlike the matured markets, monetisation of content is a big problem in India.

Playcaso COO Ninad Chaya believes that mobile phones are a primary source of entertainment for a majority of people in rural India. The games apps have changed the whole business model of the business. The Freemium model has played a pivotal role in getting casual gamers to get hooked on.

DigiBC president Howard Donaldson does not buy the theory that console gaming will die a slow death. His contention: hardcore gamers will continue playing console games as they offer interactive experience.

“I don’t see console gaming going away, there are hardcore gamers in North America who play console games for experience,” he states.

Games with local tastes are culturally more acceptable, a trend that is beginning to become visible in the Indian marketplace. Last year, for example, saw the emergence of the Bollywood inspired superhero game, RaOne Genesis.

Ubisoft Entertainment India producer Jithin Rao echoes Donaldson‘s views. "Console gaming will hold on to its own despite the fact that gaming apps are gaining currency worldwide since there is a committed constituency of hardcore gamers." He, however, concedes that console gaming is declining compared to mobile gaming that has seen a rise, particularly in India.

“In the last three years, we have not seen the sale of any hard selling franchises sales go down,; in fact it’s increasing. Console gaming has not gone anywhere in the next five years, at least till the mobile apps become as powerful as consoles,” Rao contends.

Console and mobile gaining will complement each other as every platform offers a unique experience to its users. Rao suggests the creation of an ecosystem for mobile gaming was critical for growth.

The Indian gaming market will be the biggest in the world since 400-500 million are expected to access Internet from their mobiles. "We expect at least half of them to take to gaming. Females are also taking to games," says Gondal.

The Indian gaming industry will gain as the technology scenario in the country changes with the impending digitisation of cable networks and multiple devices become available to access content.

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