With 568 Million Gamers – Gaming Industry Is At The Forefront Of India’s Techade; Will Reach $7.5B By 2028 

By Vaishali Basu Sharma 

The recent report, titled “India Gaming Opportunity: Robust Fundamentals To Power Continued Growth,” has unveiled India as the reigning champion in the global gaming arena.

As per  Robust Fundamentals, with a staggering user base of 568 million gamers and over 9.5 billion gaming app downloads in 2023, India is the largest gaming market in the world. India contributes approximately 20% of the world’s total mobile game downloads, surpassing even the combined download totals of the next two: The US and Brazil.

The comprehensive report on India Gaming Opportunity, co-authored by the India-based body Interactive Entertainment and Innovation Council (IEIC) and WinZO, was released at the recently held Game Developer Conference (March 17-21), the world’s largest professional game industry event, held at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

The report  “India Gaming Opportunity: Robust Fundamentals To Power Continued Growth” highlights the Indian gaming industry’s growth trajectory, underscored by an influx of $2.8 billion from investors since 2017, signaling strong confidence in the sector’s dynamic future.

In fact, this year’s Game Developer Conference saw the first-ever India Pavilion. Set up by WinZO in partnership with the India Game Developer Conference (IGDC) and gaming and sports media platform Nazara, the Pavilion showcased the country’s prowess in the gaming ecosystem.

The report sheds light on some interesting findings in terms of innovative localization strategies, burgeoning user base, and evolving demographic trends. A major push to gaming in India has been the strategic move towards localization of gaming content.

By introducing vernacular languages and Indian themes, gaming platforms have successfully expanded their reach to non-English speaking clusters, particularly in rural areas where internet penetration is on the rise. This vernacularisation has broadened the user base, making it more inclusive. The report attests to a surge in female gamers, who now constitute almost 40% of the gaming populace in India.

The report’s figures give a peek into the huge gaming market potential—it says that India currently has about 560 million gamers, of whom 144 million paid for games in 2023. By 2028, the total gamer base might reach 916 million, with 240 million of them paying for games.

The Indian gaming ecosystem is slated to grow at 14% CAGR to reach a revenue of $6 billion by 2028. The share of non-RMG games will rise to 21% of the overall gaming market by 2028 from the current 13%, the report said.

“Battle royale games (like Krafton’s BGMI and Garena’s Free Fire Max) have been instrumental in demonstrating that mobile gaming has the capability to catch the attention of the nation.”

Similar estimations were made about the remarkable growth trajectory of the gaming industry in India at social media firm and Facebook parent Meta’s inaugural gaming summit in India. Held in Mumbai on March 14, Meta launched a report on the Indian gaming ecosystem called ‘Gaming Playbook’ in collaboration with market research firm GWI.

With gaming firms like Dream 11 and Nazara Technologies as well as popular creators in attendance at the gaming summit,  Arun Srinivas, director and head of ads business, Meta India, announced, “Gaming is one of the top three sectors for Meta globally, and the Indian gaming market is growing faster than any other in the world…we play a very important role in this by driving things like discoverability and remarketing.”

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According to the  study by Meta and GWI, “Nearly half of casual gamers and 43 percent of real-money gamers come from non-metro geographies.” More than three of four casual and real-money gamers in the country discover new games to play and purchase on social media, and more than 90 percent of these do so on Meta platforms. India has about 146 million real money gaming (RMG) players and about 202 million non-RMG casual gamers. Of these, 57% of RMG players and 51% of casual gamers live outside major cities.

In December 2023, American video game developer and publisher Riot Games hosted its debut international esports tournament, ‘Convergence’, one of the biggest VALORANT events in India. Co-sponsored by Lenovo and Intel, teams from South Korea, Europe, Brazil, and Turkey, including a couple of popular Indian teams, participated for a prize pool of $50,000 USD.

The Indian gaming sector is set to be worth almost $7.5 billion and create 250,000 jobs by 2025. Gaming could also become an “export-oriented” sector in India as more firms build products for the world.

India’s talent pool offers a strategic advantage, allowing us to pioneer geo-adapted production and live services, unlocking huge value for global publishers. With innovation and reach into diverse markets, India could potentially revolutionize the games industry on a global scale.

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The number of Indian game development companies has also grown, from 25 in 2015 to over 900 in 2023. Investments in India’s online gaming are flowing. For instance, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has launched the Sony India Hero Project to support Indian game developers with a minimum of $100,000 funding.

The Krafton India gaming incubator fund has an outlay of $50,000 to $150,000 per investment. With gaming studios entering the Indian market through specific strategies around gameplay, community management, and marketing, local forms are collaborating on services around testing and prototyping games in the game production process and exploring possibilities for co-producing some games and live services.

  • The author is an analyst on strategic and economic affairs. She has worked as a consultant with the National Security Council Secretariat for nearly a decade.
  • She tweets at @basu_vaishali)