Non-metro locations emerging as hotbed for online gaming: Report

ZEE5 released its Intelligence Monitor report on online gaming consumer insights and trends.


Mumbai: With the advent of technology, the online gaming industry has been growing aggressively for the last couple of years. Today with 433 million gamers, India is home to the world's second-largest online gaming market by volume. To understand the changing dynamic of the e-gaming industry, ZEE5 has released its Intelligence Monitor report on online gaming consumer insights and trends. 

The report aims to get a deeper understanding of the changes that are influencing the landscape basis of a consumer survey by ZEE5.

The objective is to gauge the changes in consumption patterns and consumer attitudes in India based on a survey conducted with ZEE5 viewers in over 146 cities. Let's look at the report's findings to understand expected and asynchronous e-commerce industry trends.

According to ZEEL chief operations officer - revenue Rajiv Bakshi, entertainment and gaming have a symbiotic relationship owing to the mind space both occupy amongst consumers. “We have lots of female leads hailing from almost every market in India. Marketers can leverage their popularity to build stronger relationships with their audience," said Bakshi talking about how "ZEE5 can be a partner to the e-gaming brands in building trust among prospective customers. "ZEE5 has a lot of actionable insights already available to them such as their current aspirations, what they are consuming, and how they are spending their time that will be helpful to the e-gaming players in connecting with these audiences."

Following are the findings from the ZEE5 report:

Online gaming cuts across demographics and cohorts.

The report reveals that 59 per cent of survey participants are presently involved in online gaming. If we talk about the demography, 57 per cent of females prefer playing online games against 60 per cent of males. A significant reason behind this shift is the democratisation of affordable smartphones and internet penetration. Another eye-catching data point discovered in the research is the number of games users play. The survey reveals that 58 per cent of the audiences have more than three games installed on their phone at a time. Seeing the data findings, Gaussian Network CEO   says, what we currently see is just the tip of the iceberg as far as online gaming in India is concerned. With a massive user base that cuts across demographics, the ability of gaming brands to tap and monetise it will determine the future.

Consumers' gaming habits evolved sharply during the lockdown

The report also reveals that lockdown has fueled the online gaming industry's growth significantly. This brought a significant shift in the ways audiences engage in entertainment and recreation activities. Undoubtedly the pandemic followed by a series of lockdowns brought in-person socializing to a grinding halt, and people were left with limited options for entertainment. If we go by the survey, more than 50 per cent of the respondents registered an increase in their online gaming consumption, with over 53 per cent of respondents playing online games at least five times a week. Three out of every four respondents play at least one and half hours every day, stated the report.

Games24x7 head of digital marketing Vatsal Shah also agrees that the online gaming industry has seen a massive spike in engagement since the pandemic. "In addition to traditional entertainment content, gaming emerged as a leading form of recreation led by growth across parameters of consumption and engagement," he said.

Online gaming has grown across genres

Coming to the gaming genres, the report found that the audience's preference is evenly split between casual, fantasy, and multiplayer games. While male audiences indicate a preference for fantasy sports and multiplayer games, female participants prefer casual gaming.

TV and OTT platforms influence the consumption of online gaming

The ZEE5 Intelligence Report also highlighted that the propensity of consumers interacting with one game increases once they see an ad. And it’s no hidden fact that advertising builds trust and brand recall value in the minds of the consumers. But how can e-gaming brands advertise when platforms like playstore don’t allow fantasy and real money games to be listed. Here comes the advantage of the OTT platforms.

Interestingly, TV and OTT platforms have been the major influencers to boost online gaming consumption. The report stated that one out of two gamers are likely to try a new game after watching an advertisement on TV or OTT. As the gaming industry matures and gamers open up to new and innovative concepts, we can expect exciting collaborations and crossover developments in the space that could unlock substantial value, adds Bakshi.

Non-metro locations are emerging as a hotbed for online gaming.

One of the most critical findings of the report is the growth of online gaming in non-metro locations. According to the survey, the growth in non-metro locations outstripped metros. While 63 per cent of non-metro users played at least five times a week, 39 per cent of the respondents played for more than 60 minutes, with the corresponding number for metros at 43 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively. At the same time, non-metro audiences have a higher frequency of playing online games.

As far as the genre is concerned, fantasy gaming is taking the lead in non-metro locations. Surprisingly, 39 per cent of the respondents preferred online fantasy sports games.

The survey by ZEE5 is sufficient to prove how gaming has now emerged as a pan-India phenomenon. Experts believe while some challenges persist, the increased exposure and accessibility to online gaming among users augur well for the industry. However, for gaming companies, particularly those involving real money, their inability to advertise due to regulatory restrictions remains a considerable hurdle to raising awareness among the consumers.

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