At the second edition of the India Gaming Conclave 2022 (IGC), industry leaders got together to talk about the drivers of the gaming revolution in India and what lies ahead. India is currently the hotbed of the online gaming industry with over 420 million active gamers and with technological innovations like 5G and cloud gaming on the horizon, it’s set on a course that will revolutionize the gaming ecosystem.
Mobile gaming will dominate India post 5G
“We have all the right ingredients,” said Shrey Mishra, Co-Founder, XR Central during the inaugural session of the IGC 2022. “I think we’re lucky that we are in the Indian ecosystem which really pushes us to innovate. We are a very different market. We’re not like the US where people had the time to transition from Pong to Atari to PCs. We jumped straight to the mobile phones. And that’s what we’ve seen in the last five years.”
In the past five years, the online gaming market in India got a significant boost with the move from 3G to 4G, the democratization of mobile phones with affordable internet connectivity and the rise in popularity of games like Valorant, PUBG Mobile and Free Fire, to name a few. With 5G services set to go live soon in India, the Indian gaming community is waiting with bated breath for it to spearhead the next-generation technologies like cloud gaming, XR experiences and more.
Giving an alternative point of view, Nitin Goel, Country Manager, Gameloft said, “It’s not that gaming is a recent phenomenon, it has existed for ages for us, it’s just that the enablers were not present at that point in time for us to have a massive reach of the game. And that’s something which is very much available today to us. And that makes us more excited about the gaming opportunities in the market.”
While the Indian gaming ecosystem may be poised to be a multi-billion dollar industry, it’s not without its fair share of challenges. There isn’t a regulatory framework by the Indian government for companies to follow which is something being advocated by the whole esports ecosystem since it finds itself being identified in the same vein as fantasy and casino sports. With 5G, the challenge is to use it in a meaningful way that benefits the gaming culture and not just faster speeds. “From the gaming industry standpoint, and from just a consumer standpoint, the utility of 5G I think, is something that still has to find its silver bullet in terms of hardware,” said Damyant Singh Khanoria, CMO, Oppo India.
“We literally have thousands of patents around things that we feel are gonna help unlock the potential of 5G for consumers. But I think what we need is products that help unlock the 5G experience in a more immersive way, and I don’t think the screen that we hold in our hand is the answer,” he explained.
Cloud gaming for the win!
One of the hot topics of discussion during the conclave was cloud gaming and how 5G will act as an enabler for gamers to play on the go and without the need for high-end phones or PCs. Since the game is stored on a remote server, it all boils down to how fast and reliable is your internet connection.
Talking about cloud gaming Goel said, “It’s transformative. It’s disruptive. The way we have seen things happening in 2008-2009 when Google and Apple came into the space, it’s gonna have a similar kind of impact on how you have the experience of consuming PC gaming.”
“5G will be another catalyst for this industry, especially for cloud gaming. Games are now becoming so complex, everything cannot be done on the phone. So it’s new, very high powered remote servers that stream to you and then you can play the game and so that is going to catch on,” said Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India.
“That’s why 5G will be a big enabler. Things like low latency and high bandwidth apart from cloud gaming are really important. And as 5G gets deployed, the game developers will also start exploiting these aspects and the user experience will get better. Of course, the innovations will happen overtime,” he continued.
For facilitating these innovations, over 2 billion dollars have been invested in gaming companies in the past few years alone which have opened doors for increased research and development and also attract local talent. In all this, a silver lining is the debut of Indian esports athletes at the Asian Games 2022 which marks a significant development in the gaming industry. India is being represented by 18 members who will be fighting for the medal in titles like FIFA 22, DOTA 2, League of Legends, Street Fighter V and Hearthstone.
The Indian gaming ecosystem has shown multi-fold growth and the pandemic alone birthed over 40% of serious gamers. There’s a lot more acceptance around gaming as a viable career choice than ever before and with everything at its disposal, it’s time the Indian gaming industry solidifies its roots in the global markets but it shouldn’t be left without regulations.