Even before the coronavirus outbreak, the Indian economy showed signs of lagging. The gaming industry, however, bucked this trend and continues to grow despite the nationwide lock down that has brought all economic activity to a halt. India is the biggest hot spot for online gaming in the world, with mobile gaming revenues set to reach $1.1 billion in this financial year. Much of this boom can be credited to the growth of sustainable digital infra and a wide choice of affordable and powerful handsets. India clocks the highest numbers when it comes to the number of game downloads and number of games published. More than 300 million people who adopted smartphones for the first time are now spending an average 40-45 playing minutes daily on their devices.
The industry has come a long way from its humble beginnings with the entry of fantasy sports to today’s growing popularity of e-sports and skill-based gaming. Today, the number of players in the Indian gaming ecosystem has almost doubled. The number is growing at an exponential rate.
It all started with casual games such as Bubble Shooter, Candy Crush and mid-casual games such as Metro surfer and Temple Run. These days, Royal Battle games such as PUBG Mobile and FreeFire are trending with max downloads and game plays. E-sports is the next big thing in India and people have started taking it seriously. Some gamers have even adopted e-sports as a career.
Amid the lockdown following the coronavirus outbreak, online gaming has observed a huge surge in India, especially social gaming platforms like WinZO. With people stuck at home for more time and parted from their loved ones, they are connecting with them over a common activity that is via online gaming. Demand for board games such as Ludo and Carrom has increased ten-folds in India. Private modes have picked up on our platform indicating that people prefer to play with their friends.
While the broad outlook on gaming in India is optimistic, there are quite a few roadblocks to growth that gaming companies continue to encounter. India is an atypical market for gaming companies due to inefficient and unsustainable monetization models. Notwithstanding the evident market depth and despite massive engagement, many gaming companies have not been able to materialize revenue from this audience because people have lower disposable incomes and are also sceptical about online transactions.
Traditionally, companies in India monetise games either through in-app purchases or advertisements which kills the user experience. Year-on-year revenues from in-app purchases from India stands way below the global average, even though India has one of the largest captive audiences for gaming. Ad revenues for the mobile-first audience are surprisingly low, making it a non-viable business model. Hence, for all practical purposes, gaming studios in India are simply back offices for international studios. Clearly for this space to evolve requires innovation and an entirely non-traditional approach.
WinZO identified this vacuum and came up with a microtransaction-led social gaming platform. With 70+ games such as PUBG MOBILE, FreeFire, Carrom, Cricket, Archery, Metro Surfer in 12 regional languages, WinZO is tapping the deeper parts of Bharat (Tier 2-5). WinZO clocks over 200 MM microtransactions per month.
Game development has never been a big industry in India. This can be attributed to uncertain demands and revenue streams because of reasons explained before. That is why we consciously took this decision to not develop games in-house but to partner with developers; individual, small studios as well as multinational studios, to feed this growing demand. We partner with studios, integrate their games on WinZO and revenue generation from the games start almost immediately. Our partner game developers have grown to earn 100X of what their content earns from other modes of revenue.
To make this outreach easier, we even have launched WinZO Developer Console (console.winzogames.com) where any developer can sign up and submit their content for integration on WinZO. We have garnered massive traction from the console and over 1000 games have been from across the globe. WinZO also has deployed a $ 1.5 MM developer’s fund support content production game in the country.
Through this fund, we encourage the developers to create world class games with an assured capital and revenue stream. At the same time, we are a gateway for large international studios to enter Indian markets. We are doing our best to keep our users engaged during these unprecedented times. We partnered with Tencent and Garena to quickly launch PUBG Mobile and FreeFire esports on our platform. We have launched 10+ games during the lockdown to keep our users entertained. The lockdown has certainly escalated the growth of this category of the gaming industry. We are close to reaching our targets for 2020 seven months in advance!