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14 June 2024 – The Indian Express


Evolution of the Gaming Industry in India

What are the driving forces behind India’s gaming industry’s growth?

  • Better Internet Infrastructure and Connectivity: Online gaming is now available outside of major cities thanks to the growth of broadband connectivity in Tier-II and Tier-III cities.
  • The National Broadband Mission and BharatNet are two initiatives that have attempted to bring high-speed internet connection to remote and rural areas.
  • The widespread adoption of 4G and the upcoming 5G networks has improved internet speeds and decreased latency, which are necessary for uninterrupted online gaming.
  • Affordably available Data and Smartphones: Due to fierce competition among telecom providers, the costs of mobile data plans have decreased, making data more available and reasonably priced for online gaming.
  • The spread of internet gaming among all socioeconomic groups has been significantly fueled by this democratisation of technology.
  • Approximately 680 million cellphones are currently in use in India, and more than 80% of them are 4G models, according to Counterpoint Research.
  • In India, mobile phones account for 90% of the gaming market, but in the US and China, the equivalent shares are roughly 37% and 62%.
  • Cultural Shift and Changing Perceptions: Online gaming became more popular as a means of social interaction and virtual enjoyment during the Covid-19 shutdown period.
  • A June 2021 KPMG research states that within a month of the lockdown, Indians’ average weekly time spent playing online games climbed from 2.1 hours (11% of total smartphone time) prior to the lockdown to 4.5 hours (15% of total smartphone time).
  • Because of this, people’s perceptions of online gaming gradually changed from being seen as a simple hobby to being seen as a potential professional path.
  • Government Support and legal Clarity: To address concerns about hazardous material and addiction, initiatives like the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 have established a legal framework for online gambling.
  • The goal of the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics (AVGC) Promotion Task Force and the creation of self-regulatory bodies has been to encourage the expansion and advancement of the industry.
  • Securing capital from international investors has become easier as a result of the government’s decision to permit 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the gaming industry.
  • Not to mention, the government’s recent announcement that gamers would get the Content Creators Award 2024 is a big step towards improving the gaming industry generally.
  • The emergence of e-sports and competitive gaming can be attributed to its inclusion as a medal event in major events such as the Asian Games 2023 and the Commonwealth Games 2022, which have enhanced e-sports’ status and recognition as a valid sport.
  • Aspiring gamers have been encouraged and the industry’s prominence has been further raised by the success of Indian teams and players on international esports platforms.
  • Just 1.1% of worldwide online gaming revenue is currently generated by the Indian online gambling market.
  • Integration of Cutting-Edge Technologies: Blockchain, cloud gaming, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and other technologies have improved gaming and created new opportunities for innovation.
  • While cloud gaming makes gaming accessible across devices by doing away with the requirement for expensive hardware, AR and VR provide immersive and interactive gameplay mechanisms.
  • Increased involvement is fostered by blockchain integration, which makes it possible to own digital assets, create tokenized economies, and facilitate interoperability between games and platforms.
  • A thriving environment for start-ups and a surge in investment has been witnessed in India, where a multitude of gaming companies and platforms have emerged to meet the varied gaming interests of Indian consumers and foster innovation.
  • Dream11, Mobile Premier League, and Game 24X7 are the three gaming unicorns that India has developed.

What Are the Main Obstacles for India’s Gaming Industry?

  • Regulatory Ambiguity and Fragmented Policies: The absence of a unified and all-encompassing regulatory framework in India has left stakeholders in the gaming business uneasy and ambiguous.
  • The legal framework around internet gaming varies throughout states, creating a fragmented policy environment.
  • For instance, whereas certain online gaming categories are prohibited in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, other states, like Karnataka, have taken a more lenient stance.
  • Tax Issues and Sustainability Challenges: The recent implementation of a 28% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the total face value of wagers has sparked questions over the industry’s long-term viability, especially for smaller firms and participants.
  • Opponents contend that this high tax rate will discourage innovation and stunt the expansion of the gaming industry by driving out a large number of smaller operators.
  • Infrastructure and Connectivity Challenges: Despite notable advancements, many regions of the nation still struggle with dependable, fast internet connectivity, especially in rural and isolated places.
  • Compared to 67% of people in cities, just 31% of people in rural areas utilise the Internet (India Inequality Report 2022).
  • material Localization and Cultural Relevance: It might be difficult for game creators to create games and material that speak to the many cultural and language contexts in India.
  • For instance, many worldwide games fail to achieve the same level of cultural resonance among Indian audiences, yet some games, like Ludo King, have been effectively adapted to local tastes.
  • Concerns about Responsible Gaming and Addiction: As the gaming business expands, there are justifiable worries about the possible dangers of addiction, especially for younger people.
  • Among school-age, undergraduate, and graduate students in India, the frequency of internet gaming disorder varied from 1.3% to 19.9% for the teenage group.
  • Signs warning people to “Beware of Smartphone Zombies” have recently been installed in Bengaluru, serving as a sobering reminder of the increasing problem of digital distraction.

 What Steps Can Be Taken to Improve India’s Gaming Sector?

  • Regulatory Clarity: Improving regulatory clarity is essential for the gaming industry, particularly with relation to the successful establishment of self-regulatory organisations that are required by the IT Rules of 2021.
  • This is urgently needed because it is still pending and will undermine the desired impact.
  • Installing specialised gaming hubs and incubators in large cities can promote creativity, teamwork, and the development of talent.
  • These hubs can offer game creators, companies, and aspiring professionals tools, mentorship, and cutting-edge infrastructure.
  • Encourage and provide incentives for game developers to produce games that draw inspiration from India’s rich cultural legacy, mythology, and folklore.
  • This can assist in giving Indian games a distinctive personality that appeals to both home and foreign players.
  • Example: “Raji: An Ancient Epic” is one game that effectively combines fun gameplay with aspects of Indian culture.
  • Creative Funding and Investment Models: To encourage game creation and businesses, promote alternative funding models such as crowdsourcing, venture capital investments, and public-private collaborations.
  • For instance, international game developers such as Ubisoft have dabbled in in-game economies and blockchain-based assets.
  • Women: The Pioneers of India’s Gaming Revolution: As a substantial 40% of the country’s gamers, women are in a prime position to spearhead the gaming revolution in their homeland.
  • India can tap into a plethora of talent, a variety of viewpoints, and creative ideas that can propel the gaming industry’s expansion and success by promoting and supporting women in the field.
  • Encourage Cross-Industry Collaborations: To investigate the possibilities of gamification and serious games, encourage cooperation between the gaming industry and other industries such as tourism, education, and hospitality.
  • These cross-sector partnerships may result in creative uses of gaming technology across a range of fields.

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