The video game industry has been around for several decades. What began as a purely entertainment focused endeavor, has turned into a multi-billion-dollar industry that touches upon countless aspects of our modern existence. Today, gaming has relevance not just in the “entertainment dens” of geeks, but in academia, professional training for highly specialized skills (think pilots), research and even as a viable career. As the global outlook towards gaming started to shift, India too has embraced this new avatar with open arms. Not only is the number of gamers in the country on a steady rise, but so are related employment opportunities.
E-Sports tournaments continue to take place within the country, with considerable prize pools to boot. As the arena of gaming continues to spread and grow, so does the revenue, which is expected to grow up to $3.9 billion by 2025 in a study initiated by IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India). The gaming industry has seen a meteoric rise in popularity and revenue growth, with no signs of slowing down. While it may not be possible to attribute any one factor to this evolutionary change, there have been several milestones that played a key role in taking Indian gaming to all new, respectable heights.
It all started when Atari released Pong in the ‘70s.What followed was a wave of releases by major companies through the ‘80s and ‘90s giving birth to the arcade format. The arcade style of gaming was eventually surpassed by the need to game in the comfort of one’s home, bringing about the age of consoles and personal computers. While consoles were mostly still dabbling in 2D games, the PC had opened new frontiers with games that took the visual experience of the time to a whole new level. As games became more immersive thanks to realistic graphics and incredible physics engines, the hardware and software industry as a whole was compelled to deliver better and better experiences. As the 2000s rolled around, games evolved further, becoming more story-driven at their core. Gamers wanted to feel connected, more invested in the experience. Game development studios were now hiring storytellers to make their games more narrative focused rather than “run-and-gun” model of the era past.
The coming of the Internet and Smartphone era
The best games and gaming experiences continued to be limited to a specific audience for a majority of the early 2000s. However, by 2010, India high-speed internet had found its way to many homes and in another five years, the country would witness its biggest technological boom; the smartphone. The smartphone quickly rose to “essential commodity” status, propelled in part by plummeting costs of 4G connectivity and in part by OEMs driving down cost of ownership for end-consumers. What began as an obsession with Snake back in the 90s, over the years spawned an industry that would bring AAA titles from the PC to the smartphone. Cheap internet and an unphased spirit of healthy competition propelled competitive mobile gaming into the limelight, with more and more gamers taking up multiplayer gaming than ever before. Currently, India is home to roughly 502 million smartphone users of which almost 300 million users identify as gamers. A Deloitte study posits that by 2026, India would be home to a billion smartphone users, while another study claims that the Indian mobile gaming market expected to grow to $5Bn+ by 2025. Mobile gaming undoubtedly continues to be widely popular and greatly accessible, however, an Intel Kantar study suggests that 90 percent of the mobile gamers in India are likely to shift to the PC as their preferred gaming device.
The Pandemic changed the game
As the COVID-19 pandemic put the world into complete social isolation, gaming quickly emerged as the go-to method for socializing, relieving stress and just passing time in general. As new gamers joined the fold, demand for gaming PCs and gaming monitors soared and continues to show an upwards trend. India continues to play a big role in this growth, with the country having shipped 14.8 million units in 2021, a 44.5% growth YoY.
PC Gaming unleashes the champion
One of the biggest contributors of legitimacy to gaming is the E-Sports boom. The global E-Sports industry was valued at $1.08Bn in 2021, and is expected to grow to $2.8Bn by 2028 at a CAGR of 14.50 percent, and India continues to play a notable role in its growth. The popularity of gaming titles combined with the superior experience of playing them on the PC has spawned an entirely new industry and allowed gaming to be seen as a much-respected vocation. E-Sports players today compete not only for eye-watering sums of prize pools awarded to the winners, but also the opportunity to walk away with other monetary prizes for other in-game achievements as well. Gamers who choose to pursue a career in E-Sports don’t just sit around and play all day, but just like any other sportsperson, spend a significant amount of time training their bodies and minds. Discipline, team-work, communication and endurance are just some of the key components that make a winner, just like any other sport. For those who still look upon gaming as “an activity for the delinquent,” the Asian Games 2022 officially included E-Sports as a competitive category, and India will send a contingent of 18 eSports athletes who will be competing against the very best from around the world in five different gaming titles.
Paving the Way Forward
Gaming continues to gain mindshare amongst consumers, even those who wouldn’t call themselves hardcore gamers. What was once a standalone industry, existing in its own vacuum, now influences almost every popular aspect of pop-culture. Today, we have TV shows and movies based on games, feeding into the entertainment cycle. Game merchandise continues to hold significant value in bragging rights and not to mention, games continue to shape many of our cultural and inter-personal mannerisms as well. While gaming might be tethered to a singular device, its impact on our lives is grand and ubiquitous. While hardware will continue to get more and more powerful, the future of gaming experiences will also be augmented by superior connectivity technologies such as WiFi6 and 5G thanks to their higher bandwidth and low latency nature. These new technologies will take the superior gaming experience, so far reserved for the PC, and bring it to a whole new class of devices thanks to the growing development and consumer interest in cloud gaming. While on one hand we’re seeing games break away from the staple devices, the Metaverse promises a whole new paradigm to the digital experience, including gaming. Imagine a scenario where you can attend an E-sports tournament, experience the exhilaration of being amongst thousands of other like-minded audiences, all from the comfort of your home. Amidst all this progression, what is clear is that gaming is no longer a casual activity, but a billion-dollar industry with something for everyone.