The pandemic has caused troubles in many industries but it appears to be the other way around for the esports segment. Gaming, in general, experienced a boost in growth last year as lockdowns were implemented in different places or countries.
As people remained indoors, they had to find ways to entertain themselves, and many turned to online gaming including real money or casino games. Many looked for online slot game promotions and casino apps that they can download on their device. It was just really a good year for the online gaming and gambling sectors.
Despite the health crisis, gaming companies were still able to release popular titles like Animal Crossing: new Horizons, The Last of Us Part Two, the remake of Final Fantasy VII, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered, and the much-awaited futuristic game – Cyberpunk.
2020 appears to have been a good year for the global gaming market because of the many much-awaited game releases. It’s no different for India’s gaming industry. Statistics show that more Indians started to play games last year particularly mobile games.
Growth of Mobile Gaming in India Last Year
BARC & Nielsen reported that smartphone gaming significantly grew last year. The number of mobile game users per week grew 68 percent during the lockdown. They found that the time spent on mobile games per user in a week jumped from 151 minutes to 218 minutes during the lockdown as well.
These numbers show how Indians are now keener to play on their mobile devices. The COO of Paytm First Games, Sudhanshu Gupta, spoke about this recently in an interview with Inc42 and said, “India continues to be one of the most promising markets for esports in the world in terms of size and potential. Mobile gaming penetration has surged in the past few years fueled by affordable handsets and lower data costs. Additionally, further penetration of video streaming platforms like YouTube and video-based social networks like Tik Tok has further helped propel the mobile esports friendly games into the mainstream.”
Smartphones are indeed becoming more affordable nowadays and mobile gamers don’t have to spend much anymore if they need a quality gaming smartphone. India’s internet connection is also becoming more stable. Currently, only 4G connection is available in the country and it’s still in the process of becoming more widespread.
However, there are already plans to launch 5G in the country. At the latest India Mobile Congress (IMC), the chairman of Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani, announced that Jio will be the pioneer in the local 5G revolution in the second half of this year. Once 5G finally becomes available in the country, we can just expect that mobile gaming will be bigger.
The Prize Pool is Becoming More Serious
Esports is also getting more attention because of the prize pool in different tournaments. Last year, the biggest prize pool in esports was for the PC game DOTA 2 which was over 35 million US dollars. For Mobile, the Call of Duty Mobile World Championship has a prize pool of 1 million US dollars. This just shows how esports is becoming more serious than people are now taking pro-gamers seriously.
In India, more mobile game tournaments will likely be held this year. Qualcomm India recently announced that it will be holding a tournament for the players of the battle royale game Garena: Free Fire with the cash prize of Rs 50,00,000.
Rajen Vagadia, the VP and President of Qualcomm India & SAARC spoke to India Times recently about the company’s vision into the esports segment and how the country is doing the best it could to be at the forefront.
Vagadia said, “We’ve been working on this for almost two years. What took us so long was also to understand the whole gaming ecosystem. It is a vast country and selecting the right platform is key, those things took some time. To be honest, apart from this I am struggling to figure out what were the challenges. While I’m not considering the government regulation, let’s say sometimes there are some regulations, which probably are not very clear or rather they are clear on, on real money gaming, and this, this is competitive skill-based gaming. I consider these as socially competitive. It allows you to engage, connect.
“The only challenging bit will be the finale which we plan on doing an offline event where we’ll gather the winning teams together. That part we’ll wait and see what is safe for the players then. Safety for us is very important, whether it is for us, for our gamers, or spectators. And we’ll ensure to make this decision keeping safety in mind. If situations don’t permit, the finale too will be concluded online.“