The Indian gaming industry went from being a very negligible sector to being one of the biggest in the global market in the last two decades. Thanks to the rise of online gaming platforms, affordable mobile devices, and internet services, the Indian gaming market is expected to grow from $2.8 Billion USD in 2022 to $5 Billion in 2025 at a CAGR (Compound annual growth rate) of 28-30%. A lot of the growth in the last three years can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown where all of us were confined within our homes. With a completely online lifestyle, it was about time India picked up video gaming.
As someone new to the world of video games, you should know about the humble beginning of the Indian gaming industry and how it is now the second-largest population of gamers in the world.
Mobile Gaming Is Huge in India
In 2021, the World Economic Forum (WEF) noted that mobile devices are the primary driver of India’s gaming industry. This is something that every one of us can relate to since we see people, right from kids to adults around us, playing video games on their mobile devices. During the early days of the pandemic, India reportedly rose to the number one spot in mobile game downloads worldwide during the first nine months of 2020 with 7.3 billion installs.
Even before the pandemic, a lot of gamers played PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) Mobile and this was one of the most popular mobile games in India. In 2019, according to Pocket Gamer, 555 million people downloaded PUBG Mobile at that point and of this, 116 million downloads were from India, which amounted to 21% of total downloads.
Unfortunately, in September 2020, the Indian government blocked access to PUBG Mobile and PUBG Mobile Lite along with 116 other apps deeming these apps to be prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India. Following this, in January 2021, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) did not grant permission to PUBG Mobile India.
Much later in May 2021, South Korean publisher KRAFTON announced ‘Battlegrounds Mobile India’ (BGMI) as the India-exclusive battle royale which it worked on following the ban of PUBG Mobile in the country.
BGMI, which quickly rose to fame in India, also faced its fair share of troubles recently. The game was blocked by the government during the first week of July 2022 and was unbanned “temporarily for three months” on 27th May 2023.
What Games Are Popular in the Indian Gaming Industry?
The three main categories that Indian gaming can be divided into are casual games, mid-core games, and AAA game titles. According to a Times of India report, casual games like Candy Crush appealed to the mass market and accounted for 44% of overall gaming revenue in FY21. Meanwhile, mid-core games, such as Battlegrounds Mobile India and Free Fire, engaged players with an average daily playtime of 80 minutes and drove monetization through in-app purchases.
The Indian gaming industry is also increasingly developing AAA game titles which are usually high profile, it noted.
Though the PC gaming market in India is not as expansive as the mobile gaming market, there has been an increasing interest in first-person shooter (FPS) games like Valorant, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO), and also Battle Royales like Apex Legends.
Valorant Patch 5.09
Indian Game Studios on the Rise
Indian game publishing studios have also had their fair share of the limelight in recent years. Game studios like Nodding Heads Games, SuperGaming, and GameEon Studios have tapped into the rich culture of India, focusing on folklore and mythology, and presenting these new unexplored themes to the world through video games.
Pune-based SuperGaming’s brainchild is Indus Battle Royale, which presents Indian culture with a futuristic twist, specifically the Indus Valley Civilization. While mainstream media often portray India as a land of colors, loud music, tasty street food, and home to Bollywood, the best parts like our heritage and history are overlooked. Indus tackles this issue with might by presenting the game with themes of Indo-Futurism — a never-before-seen take on India’s culture.
Indus Battle Royale
Likewise, Nodding Heads Games made the world turn around and notice Raji, an action-adventure video game. In this ancient epic game, a young girl named Raji is chosen by the gods to stand against the demonic invasion of the human realm. She has to rescue her younger brother and take on the demon lord Mahabalasura.
With the Indian gaming industry showing such great promise, it has attracted several international gaming industry giants. Ubisoft, one of the biggest names in the industry, established a video game studio in Pune in 2008. More recently, Riot Games set up shop in our country to expand its operations.
With the outlook on gaming and esports in India slowly changing into a note of positivity, we can surely expect the Indian gaming industry to reach great heights in the coming years. Reports also predict that the number of gamers in India is expected to rise from 420 million in 2020 to 500 million by 2025.
Esports organizations from India like Global Esports and S8UL Esports are already getting featured in headlines internationally, and it is only a matter of time before India too boasts several gaming studios, esports teams, and athletes who rule the industry.