Here are some predictions for Indian gaming in 2018:
1. Democratization of games continues - Mobile phone continues to revolutionize gaming, making it move from classes to masses. Smartphone shipments breaching the 500M mark in 2018 with higher shipments than feature phone coupled with 5X growth in data consumption will push the total number of mobile gamers to a range of 300-350M. An average casual gamer spends 7-10% of his mobile time on games spending 1/3rd of its entertainment budget as per Google KPMG report. The avg. Indian gamer continues to be male skewed between 16-35 years old playing games across all genre be it sports, arcade, puzzle, action, racing or strategy as shown by game searches on Google. While the overall size of the market in 2018 is still refutable, what is very clear is it is growing at a rapid pace with Chinese behemoths like Alibaba/PayTM, Tencent, Youzu investing in gaming in India. Also Nazara games upcoming 1000cr IPO in early 2018 is a great recognition for the industry as a whole.
2. Social real money games 'hockey stick' growth - We saw massive growth of social real money games, be it skill based like poker and rummy or fantasy sports around cricket and kabaddi. While at one end their monthly active users grew at breakneck speed, at the other end they become some of the top grossing games to invest in serious advertising (TV commercials, full page print ads or bollywood movie associations). The majority of these gamers are male > 25 years who spend a huge percentage of their entertainment budget playing these games. Companies like Games 24X7, Dream11, HeadInfoTech, Adda52, Octro Inc, Junglee Games & Moonfrog labs stood out and will continue to grow stronger next year. 2018 will see not only several me too of these kind of games from even international publishers but also see more fantasy sports games around football, basketball and other sports. E-sports that augment social online games is another trend to watch out in 2018 as it is now a medal game in Asian games in 2022 and being considered for Olympics in 2024.
3. Localization â€¦ The Bahubali effect : Top played games on the play store in India till last year were mostly foreign titles which was a huge conundrum for Indian developers. 2017 saw games relevant to the Indian context go up the charts be it board games of Ludo & Snakes & Ladder to card games like Teen Patti & Callbreak. We also saw Indian IP related games like Bahubali & Sachin Saga as top grossing games of the year. 2018 will see several such localization be it on Indian IPs of movies and celebrities, politics and cricket players or Indian relevant sports like Kabaddi.
4. Monetization improvement through IAPs & advert gaming- Monetization has always been the holy grail for Indian game developers because of Indians' low propensity to pay along with friction to pay. However with digitization, carrier billing and smaller denominations, we saw an uptick towards In-App Purchases (IAPs) in 2017. The trend will accelerate next year as both the barriers- mindset and financial will come down towards IAPs. Monetization through ads will also grow at larger pace as more and more brands realize they can reach an highly engaged audience in non intrusive / interruptive way through native ads. We at GreedyGame say a quantum jump in revenue with several brands exploring how casual games can become an interesting platform to engage with their audience especially when targeting kids and youth.
5. Pilots of AR/VR games in India | Pokemon-Go follow-up hitting us - Pokemon Go was invariably the first commercially tremendous successful AR game to hit in 2016. Ninatic Labs (makers of Pokemon go) is going to follow it up by Harry Potter AR game in 2018. Appleâ€™s shipping of AR kit & Googleâ€™s ARCore compatible with many new phones being shipped next year, we will see a plethora of AR games hitting us in 2018. VR which is an immersive, 3D virtual environment that user can interact continues to not live to its hype due to high cost of headsets (HTC Vive @ INR 77,000; Oculus Rift INR 44,400) coupled with not enough compelling content for it to become mass scale for gaming. From an Indian context, while few local developers like EmpowerLabs, PaperBoat apps will create games around AR/VR tech, the commercial manifestation of this technology in 2018 will be limited in a controlled environment of a mall or a game parlor. Experience zones like Smaash, Amoeba, Playarena where gamers can experience AR/VR games will be go to places for both casual and serious gamers.
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