With the size and magnitude of the gaming public in India, International publishers are beginning to see the country as an undiscovered market ripe for the taking. The size, scale and potential of this market is truly different as opposed to that of any country. Yes, there are several challenges facing publishers but the rewards are equally lucrative.
Before we get further into the article, it is worth noting that the Indian game market is ripe for AAA titles with big budgets but doesn’t really respond well to independent games developed indigenously in the country. However, this could change in the coming years as the market has seen a steady growth in India, year by year.
Earlier, a lot of game makers preferred staying out of China and India because they felt the market wasn’t ready for games that cost a lot. Today though, these two countries have a market riddled with gamers who don’t mind foregoing the piracy route. Indian gamers pay for games that they are really interested in. The problem up until the past few years was that Indian gamers really had no option to pay for the games they played and now that Origin, Steam and others are offering the gamers licenses, more and more gamers are willing to pay for their gaming experience. Previously payment methods were unsupportive of Indian services and that was probably the biggest hurdle. This no longer is a concern with indigenous payment portals and international portals opening up to the Indian Banking sector.
Yes, another limitation over the years in India has been the abysmal broadband plans. Not only are the plans archaic but also expensive. You have capped download limits that cost a lot. With today’s games averaging around 50GB, the decision to download games off the internet is a big one. Take for instance, DOOM download on Steam. 70GB is a huge amount of data and for a country like India, this means spending your entire month’s bandwidth trying to get a game from the internet. Things are changing however with better plans and higher packages available in major cities across the country. However, it is the availability of original game CDs days after their international launch that is helping convert Indian gamers into loyal customers for international big brands.
India As Game Makers
Yes, major titles are not in the pipeline from Indian game manufacturers but the moment you move into the mobile gaming segment, you realize what kind of potential the country has. Indian companies and their gaming titles all dominate the Play Store. In fact, after voice, text, chat and email, gaming is what Indian mobile users spend their time on. In a recent report published by the Business Standard, the mobile gaming sector in India will be worth $400 million with nearly 628 million users by 2020.
Gaming As An Event
India hasn’t yet seen the likes of E3 gaming events however, the trend of annual gaming events has already begun in the country. Take the Indian Gaming Show that ran from 2nd February to 5th February in Delhi. While it wasn’t as massive as E3, it was a success on a much humbler scale. While the turnout was slim, there were a lot of encouraging signs. Take for instance big game publishers such as Square Enix participating in the event.
Held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, Hall number 18 was the venue for The Indian Gaming Show and this hall had several smaller pavilions, each sporting a host of publications, publishers and gaming hardware makers. Among the many things that you notice as you walk into the venue is the mega setups for pro gaming matches. India’s E-Sports pros had a heavy presence in this event and it was probably the biggest crowd puller of the entire event.
The usual gimmicks from large brands were on display. Sony booth had a mash up of several weird ideas that kept the crowd engaged but what stood out was the sheer number of game titles on display. Some of the titles weren’t yet launched. Nier: Automata was one such title. Then there were complete VR zones that gave visitors a taste of the VR experience.
Specific titles have for long gathered a lot of fan following in India. Take the Tomb Raider franchise or even the Final Fantasy franchise that has several Indian gamers following the official fan pages on Facebook from the subcontinent. Delhi seems to be the hub for such fan following in India and this gaming event was an attempt to connect pro gamers, enthusiasts with game developers and hardware makers.
Two titles that have managed to capture the Indian market include FIFA from EA Sports and GTA V. The sheer number of users from the subcontinent suggests the potential of gaming in the country. Up until 2015, EA Sports would target India on a third tier basis, opting to release their games later in the country and offer game CDs at lower prices because piracy was a big thing. However, with a steady growth in fan following, they quickly went the online licensing way with 2016 and for the FIFA 17, they managed to record the highest sales ever. GTA V has had a similar experience with the Indian gaming market.
All these developments over the past few years points towards a boom in Indian gaming promises a better future for gaming enthusiasts in the country. Will the next big independent game title to take the world by storm come out of India? It truly is only a matter of time.