The Indian gaming industry is witnessing its first commercial upsurge. Over the past few years, the boom in affordable, faster internet, along with increasingly affordable smartphones have seen exponential growth in the field of online gaming. Mobile gaming has been gradually producing gamers with serious gaming intent, and given that an overwhelmingly large section of all Indian smartphones run on Android, Google is the automatic benefactor of this boom in the industry.
On this note, News18 spoke to Sharan Tulsiani, business development manager of apps and games at Google Play, regarding Google’s perception and stance in the gaming industry of India. While he avoided making direct correlation to Google as a gaming industry giant in India, and even refrained from revealing any details about Stadia — he affirmed Google's perception of India as a force in the international gaming industry. Here are the key excerpts of our conversation.
How have you seen India’s potential as a gaming market grow over the past few years?
With increasing access to affordable broadband mobile and greater choice in smartphones across price bands, the mobile gaming industry has seen an upsurge in the last few years. According to a report by Nasscom, India's mobile games market is expected to reach 628 million users and be worth $1.1 billion by 2020, up from $290 million in 2016. Among all the emerging markets, India is the largest in terms of downloads with over 2.8 billion game downloads in the first half of 2018.
Globally, Android has over 2 billion active devices, and over 250 million apps are downloaded every day from the Play Store. There remains a huge opportunity for developers across the globe to develop successful and scalable businesses across the platform. In India, the developer ecosystem is on the rise. Google Play supports Indian developers throughout their lifecycle — from indie, to big-name.
When it comes to indie developers, has there been any upsurge or response from India?
According to a Google-KPMG report, 100+ online game developers are expected to be added in the next four to five years. The mission for Android and Google Play is to empower the game developer community through education, comprehensive support, and cutting edge tools that enable them to carve out a path towards success and sustainability on Play.
How does Google plan to increase its presence in the gaming industry as distributor?
With more than 2 billion active Android users in 190+ countries around the world, Google Play is an important distribution platform for developers to build a global audience. It offers Android developers a premium store with compelling content, which drives more traffic and monetization opportunities for the entire ecosystem. As Play continues to grow, more developers than ever are building their business on Android, seeing great success and growing their revenue.
Does Google offer any form of support to independent game developers?
To support locally relevant businesses, Google runs the Indie Games Accelerator — a six-month program for top indie mobile game startups from emerging markets looking to supercharge their growth on Android. This is a special edition of the Launchpad Accelerator program designed in close collaboration with Google Play, featuring a comprehensive gaming curriculum and mentorship from top mobile gaming experts.
Also, as a way to help more developers build locally relevant apps that deliver the best performance across a range of connection speeds, data plans, and devices, our ‘Build for Billions’ guidelines assist developers to overcome challenges such as varying network connectivity, device specifications and high data costs. The ‘Build for Billions Playbook’ is a step-by-step guide for developers to learn about the features, tools, and best practices to get apps ready.
Is it still too nascent to consider India's gaming industry as a potentially impactful one? What is its future potential?
According to a report by Google and KPMG in 2017, India is one of the largest potential markets in terms of volume for online gaming. However, while there is a rise in consumption volumes, local development and monetization is lagging. The Indian online gaming industry, which presently stands at $350 mn, is poised to grow to $1 bn at a CAGR of 20% by the year 2021. The nine key drivers of this growth are —
1. Growth of Internet users to 750 million by 2020
2. Rise in disposable income: 50%+ increase in disposable income by 2020
3. Over 300 million smartphone users - this will be enabled by the proliferation of budget smartphones
4. Young and growing India: 42-43% of Indian population is presently in the 15-40 age
5. 55-60% of the internet population in India today is playing online games. Online gamers to grow from 250 million to 530 million by 2021 at a CAGR of 17%
6. 100+ online game developers set to be added in the next 4-5 years
7. Digital payments users to increase from 60-80 million in 2016 to 300 Mn by 2020
8. Increase in localised games with a focus on traditional games online along with the availability of efficient games that take less data and memory
9. The Indian developer ecosystem is on the rise and Google is deeply vested in nurturing its growth.
How has the rise of mobile gaming affected the overall app industry in India?
With the emergence of new technologies in the market, the mobile gaming industry has seen an upsurge in the last few years. The number of users downloading gaming apps globally has doubled from 2017 to 2018 with over 40% of growth seen from emerging markets and an evolution of more than three times more developers from these markets.
Leading the pack of Google play games downloads, India, today is clocking about more than a billion apps per month. With a huge appetite for gaming, currently there are more than 250 million gamers in the country. Looking at this number growing continuously, Google expects the gaming industry in India to reach $1 billion by 2021, giving a large commercial opportunity for the players in the ecosystem.