Online gaming in India was initiated in the year 2018 as the reach of the internet increased by niches and corners of India at affordable prices. But as 2020 came it gave various sectors an unusual hike in their business. Coronavirus lockdown brought down shutters on all types of outdoor entertainment whether it’s movies, parties, sports, shopping, travel, etc, whereas online gaming and OTT took a continuous boost and grew rapidly. Just like coins have two sides in the same manner Covid 19 on one side closed shutters for some industries, and on the other hand, brought up shutters for online gaming.
In the aftermath of Lockdown, it gave a rise to internet consumption which further increased the demand for gaming in the youth. “Consumers are rebalancing rather than reducing expenditure away from outdoor entertainment, cinema, and concerts to OTT and gaming,” KPMG stated. As a result, gaming app downloads zoomed-in Q1 2020, and in-app purchases also went up significantly. According to AppBrain, out of five, three grossing apps in India are in the gaming category.
India has been and is the largest emerging market by gaming application downloads, and the world’s fastest-growing mobile gaming market, as per KPMG. On average, gaming platforms recorded user growth of 60-70 percent, while the time spent on paying went up to 50-60 percent during the lockdown. Online games like Ludo King recorded tremendous growth in downloads and traffic throughout the year. The gaming companies saw a 60-70 percent reduction in customer acquisition costs and noticed their margins and profitability improvement. “Earlier, gamers used to play two to three tournaments a day. Now, it is seven to nine a day on average,” Soham Thacker, Founder, Gamerji (esports platform).
Ludo King enjoys its Success
During pre and post-lockdown in India, users were hooked to just one game which is Ludo King, which was developed by Mumbai-based Gammation Technologies. Ludo King is the first Indian app to cross 100 million downloads as it has been the most successful gaming app of all time. “Ludo King continues to grow, nearing 500 million cumulative downloads in December”, as per AppBrain. The game is a modern touch to the royal game of Pachisi, which has surpassed many games like Candy Crush Saga, PUBG, Clash of Clans, Subway Surfers, Temple Run, etc.
It has become one of the favorite games for many and carry nostalgia, helps in reducing stress, and strengthening the family bond. Ludo King became very popular because of its simplicity that attracted people of all age groups. The Gammation believes that this is the “golden age of internet-driven sociable board games”. Lumikai’s Salone adds, “Ludo King has widened the user base and unlocked the social gaming genre. People who never identified as gamers are now playing Ludo King. The best and amazing thing was that it witnessed a major hike in the non-gamers and female players.
PUBG Ban led to the rise of Action Games
One of the biggest hit given by 2020 was when India banned PUBG as a part of the government crackdown on Chinese apps. PUBG was owned by China’s Tencent Games and had become India’s most popular gaming app in the past two years. According to Sensor Tower, India accounted for 24 percent i.e. about 175 million of the game’s all-time downloads. As soon as PUBG was banned it opened gates for a bunch of multiplayer shooter games like Fortnite, Call of Duty, Rogue Heist, and Scarfall.
2020 Raised New Gaming Funds
The year 2020 has brought recovered India’s image as “under-financed” to the largest gaming market. Many startups got the opportunity for investments and gained momentum accordingly. September was the month that saw the year’s biggest gaming deal with India’s only gaming unicorn Dream11 raising $225 million from Tiger Global, TPG, ChrysCapital, Footpath Ventures, more than doubling its valuation from $1.2 billion to $2.5 billion. The third-largest deal involved Makers Fund and Courtside Ventures where their vernacular gaming platform WinZO, was raised by $18M in a Series B round. There were many other gaming deals in 2020 like Zupee raising $8 million in a Series A round from Matrix Partners India, Falcon Edge Capital, WestCap Group, Orios Venture Partners, and Smile Group. Reliance Industries also came with a bang and entered the gaming industry, by an undisclosed Series A investment in AR gaming startup Krikey. India’s first gaming-focused VC fund, Lumikai, was blessed to enter in the year 2020 as it recorded a massive success within months of its launch.
Lumikai Co-founder Justin Shriram Keeling says, “The market will have sufficient scale and vernacular gaming culture, with companies catering to local users. There will be depth and a mix of gaming technology that will power the industry forward.