Online entertainment and media in India have taken the upper hand in recent years.
Mobile and online gaming is thriving in India, still with much room for growth for tech companies and investors. While Bharat’s market potential is immense, understanding the local market specifics and cultural background remains a must for aspiring businesses.
Online Platforms Drive the Industry Forward
Online entertainment and media in India have taken the upper hand in recent years. Especially during and after the pandemic restrictions, users of all demographic groups have rediscovered the convenience and fun of mobile games out of the palm of their hands. Media reports often highlight the potential of the online gaming market as an economic driver with high added value for desi companies.
The reasons why there is such a stable and growing demand for mobile games online are manifold. While it all sounds like an easy opportunity, the industry presents many specifics and the supply of gaming services is also highly competitive. The sheer size, engagement and local tech support makes the Union market ripe for entrepreneurs and investors.
These fundamental factors have made casino games and gambling online in India the turf of some of the best internet platforms and mobile apps. The Subcontinent has outpaced many of the mature real-money gaming markets and is currently placed sixth with a valuation of around $2 billion. Its market size is expected to reach $4 billion by 2026.
Rural Areas Catching Up
An expert look into India’s largest gaming communities reveals that the nation’s economically developed urban areas provide more than half of all real-money players. Social and cultural habits influence online gambling traction as well but Tier-1 and 2 cities still shape up the market demand.
On the other hand, with more than 400 million active online gamers, it is no wonder that rural areas are catching up in absolute numbers. These are expected to keep growing and reach 600 million by 2025. Even now, every tenth gamer in the world is based in India, and desi users are reported third in overall engagement (average weekly hours spent playing), after China and Vietnam.
As a result, game developers are increasingly choosing contents and visual symbols related to traditional Indian culture. Rangoli patterns, Diwali references, lotus flowers and familiar city sights are replacing Western and other foreign elements. Gaming studios themselves have grown from merely 25 in 2010 to over 400, as per industry reports. This, however, is still a weak effort to satisfy local demand, considering the number of such businesses in the US or Europe.
Other Growth Factors
There are several other reasons why foreign-based publishers are still going strong on the Indian market. The audience, to begin with, has grown user to Western themes and game symbols. Some of the top-grossing online games have seen success in Bharat without any content localization. While India has 22 major and many more minor languages, English is quite common, especially among urban player users. Market entry is quite possible with English only, at least in the beginning.
Widening demographics also point to fertile market opportunities. The younger generations (between 26 and 40) still represent the majority of all gamers but more than 55% of working-age Indians have been reported as potentially open to paying for games. These users have a disposable income that has been on the rise for the last decade, and their spending habits have been already channelled towards online and digital entertainment, including mobile games.
That brings up the last major growth factor – the boom in smartphone use in the same time period. Second, only to China, India has over 750 million mobile users, making the gaming market mobile-first as a consequence. The majority of these players have no difficulties with digital payments as well, making monetization much easier than ever before.
These features add up to a real-money gaming market that is rich in opportunities for companies and investors. New competitors, however, should learn to read beyond pure numbers and gain some local insights first, as the Union market has proven to be incredibly diverse and complex.
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