As we enter 2022, we can only look back and wonder at the meteoric rise online gaming has seen in India in the past two years. While gaming had been witnessing growth, albeit a relatively slow one, before the lockdown, it was during the locked-at-home phase that many across the country not only discovered the joys of gaming, but also realised they could make a healthy living out of it.

If most reports coming out in the last one year are to be believed, India will see an even faster growth for the industry in the next few years, and now Bharat is joining in this growth. A recent report by Mobile Premier League (MPL), an esports and skill gaming platform revealed that India’s tier-III cities and towns have witnessed a significant rise in the number of online gamers in 2021. The top 30 of them reported up to 170% more gamers compared to 2020. Some of the small towns have more than 100% to up to 200% growth in online gamers. Another report by Sequoia India and BCG said that while the gaming industry in India is currently smaller than that of the US and China and is 1% of the global gaming market, it is generating $1.5B revenue and is expected to triple to over $5 billion by 2025 on the back of the ‘mobile first’ phenomenon.

This massive growth has also led to a new breed of influencers who are being followed by hundreds of thousands of engaged audiences. YouTube’s recently released list of top Indian creators on its platform featured 5 gamers. And things are just about starting to get heated.

To understand where this highly dynamic industry is headed in this next year, we reached out to a few prominent voices from the industry and this is what they had to say:

Lokesh Suji, Director, Esports Federation of India & Vice President of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF)

India was a sleeping giant till Covid-19 happened, and now we have established ourselves as a market that cannot be ignored; Stakeholders like the brands, investors, authorities and so on, were just sitting on the fence and observing. But with a market of at least 450 million online gamers, the potential of video games and esports cannot be ignored. The year 2021, has been the inflection point for video games in India.

While esports evolves itself into various business models, Non-fungible token (NFT) will be one big trend to watch out for in 2022. Video Games is the best use case for NFTs, customization of the skins, virtual avatars, in-game items/rewards etc. all this already exists in video games (so-called metaverse) and is now starting to be converted into NFTs. One of the key drivers for the meteoric growth of Video Games has been live streaming and esports, and such content creators and/IP holders will eventually look at converting the best of gameplays/streaks/moments into NFTs, which not only help increase monetization for content creators, video game developers etc. but also be a catalyst in terms of retention of fans and users respectively.

Anirudh Pandita, Founder, Loco

Gaming has now arrived as a truly mainstream entertainment experience and has become the primary source of entertainment for India’s young generation. 2021 saw the rise of esports and game streaming, and 2022 will see this multiply. In 2021, we saw the arrival of BGMI which all Indian fans were waiting for and in 2022, we will see multiple big publishers release games for India. In 2021, we saw esports go to new heights and we will see continued growth in the sector in the next year as prize money as well as number of games will increase. Game streaming saw the entry of hundreds of thousands of new streamers and millions of viewers, and this trend should accelerate in 2022, with individual streams rivaling those of major traditional sports. Lastly, with blockchain providing interesting use cases, we expect to see interesting new use cases come out to help creators and consumers. We, at Loco, have always aimed at paving the way for gaming to go from a niche hobby to a mainstream national interest- which the year 2021 has helped realize. We are confident that with this, India will cement its place on the global gaming map in 2022.

Abhishek Aggarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, Trinity Gaming

The gaming industry is progressing, taking complete advantage of the latest developments in technology, software, better internet services, gadgets, cloud technology and more. In the Indian scenario, there is an explosive growth of gamers in this booming industry with creative and engaging content being an important aspect of the system. With more games introduced and with more people joining the pool, more brands are shifting their focus on marketing their brands through these young creators who have an enormous fan following across the age group of 15-30 which is the most targeted audience in advertising terms for both endemic and non-endemic brands.

Gaming content has begun to penetrate the Tier II, Tier III locations, and beyond, giving vernacular content creators a chance to grow. With Hindi & Tamil being the two most popular languages in streaming in India, it will surely gain more prominence in the coming time. More people will watch game streaming. Audiences tend to admire their creators and feel more connected to them due to their high level of engagement.

The future of gaming beholds a lot and a stronger and classified gaming ecosystem is on the rise.

Tarun Gupta, Founder, Ultimate Battle

Games and gaming content are highly engaging and we’re seeing a huge spike in average and concurrent viewership for gaming content. The consumers are very dynamic and their attention span size has decreased noticeably in GenZ. We see short gaming video content to witness a never seen before hype in the gaming community.

The mobile gaming market is expanding in tier 2 and tier 3 cities and we’ll witness a rise in engagement in games, viewership, and content creation. Young gamers will play engaging games, consume fast-paced engaging content, and want to socialize with gamers often simultaneously. This will lead to more virtual world socialization among the young generation and higher consumption of gaming content.

As such, 2022 will usher higher inclination by brands into the gaming industry to target the young age group of 18 to 25. With many startups and organizations focusing on gaming and esports, we’ll see a spike in Esports events and team IPs being created. This will boost the gaming ecosystem in India and open multiple opportunities in careers for gamers and IT professionals.

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