Gaming, Safe Bet Amid Funding Winter


Globally, gaming has outperformed both the film and music industries combined, making it the entertainment industry’s frontrunner. In 2019, the global revenue for the gaming industry was USD 145.7 billion, while the box office and music industry combined for USD 62.7 billion. The expansion of the Indian gaming industry has piqued the interest of many investors in recent years.

Global players are bringing in investments as well as business knowledge and technological expertise. In 2021, gaming startups in India alone raised more than USD 1.6 billion in funding. These global synergies can be used to create a common platform for all of the professionals and stakeholders involved, potentially benefiting the larger entertainment ecosystem.

“The current online gaming boom is the result of a number of unusual circumstances. In the COVID-caused lockdown, people discovered the potential of online gaming, and the internet became a major source of entertainment. The industry has grown in the last two years as a result of this. Additionally, the widespread availability of low-cost smartphones played a significant role in this boom, attracting the attention of aspiring young entrepreneurs,” said Sunil Yadav, CEO, PlayerzPot. In recent years, India’s online gaming industry has expanded significantly, establishing it as one of the top five mobile gaming markets in the world.

Online gaming has become a lucrative destination for developers, investors, and players alike, with access to high-performance smartphones, affordable high-speed internet, and growing talent.Yadav added, “The introduction of 5G was eagerly awaited by the gaming industry. The auction of the telecom spectrum will undoubtedly be the next major step in revolutionising the mobile gaming industry. The explosive growth of gaming during the pandemic has resulted in a community of gamers, who have found a new outlet for much-needed connection as they spend time at home. Addressing this rising demand, the online gaming industry has been fast in adapting to the latest technologies.”

The online gaming industry is expected to grow at a 38 percent annual rate and has piqued the interest of both domestic and international stakeholders.The industry and its stakeholders stand to benefit greatly from clear regulations that promote the ease of doing business in their current state.

Ankit Kedia, Founder and Lead Investor, Capital A, “With the number of smartphone users set to inch closer to a billion in the next year or so, and the roll out of 5G, the sky is the limit as far as the user base and demand are concerned. Further boosts will come from the diversity of monetization options for gaming platforms that go beyond subscriptions, direct purchases, or advertisements. For instance, the integration of an opportunity for the gamers to play and win prizes, or monetize their own content, such as live streams, etc., will further boost the number of paying players. The unfolding of metaverse-based gaming in the 5G era will also be an exciting value addition in the years to come.”

The need of the hour is to advocate for strategically planned investments that will assist entities such as publishers, tournament organisers, game developers, and gaming professionals in creating a cohesive ecosystem with a clear goal of growth. This should be followed by a long-term vision to nurture gaming talent and support esports athletes as India strives to become a recognised gaming nation. “India didn’t have the high-quality studios and tech capabilities to make home-grown gaming competitive with the international brands. Even at present, most of the revenue for gaming apps comes from advertising compared to in-app purchases or paid subscriptions. The mindset of gaming being harmful or addictive was also a major obstacle for gaming popularity,” Kedia added.

However, the market has rapidly matured, and there is a significant surge in the number of gamers and engaging gameplay today. The arrival of cloud gaming, superior graphics, and the emergence of immersive gaming experiences is now helping convert the audience into willing-to-pay subscribers. Thus, the industry is set for great playing conditions ahead.

Kedia further explained that, “The Indian gaming industry is growing rapidly. With a market size of about Rs 15,000 crore at present, it is set to grow at a CAGR of 20.83 per cent until 2026, tripling in size. This growth is going to ride on NPUs dominated by players using smartphones for their gaming activities. There were close to 390 million online gamers in India last year, and about 95 million of them were paid users (2021 figures). Factors such as gamers’ maturity in terms of gaming approach; easy online payments through UPI integration; and superior, immersive, and engaging gameplay that convinces players to pay for play will continue to drive growth for new paying users in the 5G era.”

Given the industry’s market size and user base, as well as rising investor interest, India must establish a robust, well-structured, and uniform regulatory landscape to navigate challenges and carve its own narrative in the global gaming ecosystem.

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