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Gaming in India is no longer a ‘young kid’s' game, as was earlier believed but has spread far and wide with a majority of Indians emerging as committed gamers, as per a 2021 Gaming Report by InMobi India.

Mobile gaming in the last year has emerged as a source of entertainment as well as relaxation and has established itself as a mainstay in the life of the average Indian citizen.

How have the rules of the game changed in 2020

  • Mobile gaming is becoming increasingly ubiquitous as the key source of entertainment for people across age and location, helped immensely by the increased accessibility and affordability of smartphones and high-speed internet. Post-Covid studies show that Indians are continuing to play a lot more on their smartphones throughout the day.
  • Mobile gaming is no longer just a hobby but has also got synonymous as a medium of relaxation. During this period, the amount of time spent on mobile gaming as well as the number of apps they experimented with showed a sharp rise. 
  • Some 45% of Indians started playing games on their smartphones. Among the committed gamers, 40% spent more time on gaming apps while 38% of them increased the variety of games they played. Gen X (45+ age group) users are partial to multiplayer games to connect with family, friends, and other like-minded people on the platform.
  • The gender equation in gaming is also evolving. As per the findings, women constitute 43% of the Indian mobile gaming audience with 12% in the age group of 25-44 and 28% in the over 45 years group.
  • From the usage trend, many Indians play mobile games in multiple short spurts during the day. 40% of the respondents indicated that they usually play in 10-minute sessions - in between meetings, chores, meals, etc. As against this group, committed gamers, typically, spend substantially more time per session than other gamers, with over 84% of the players spending up to an hour on mobile gaming in a single sitting.
  • Committed Indian gamers love experimenting with new games. More than half of the survey respondents said they download a new game every week while over 40% have more than three games on their smartphones at any given time. 
  • The favoured method of finding new games for occasional gamers is mostly word-of-mouth, in-app ads and social media to discover new games and also includes advertisements on gaming apps and other apps and word-of-mouth. In contrast, committed gamers prefer app store recommendations and ads on gaming apps to find new games.

Importance of Mobile Gaming for brands

  • Interestingly, even as gaming increases its penetration, marketers are taking a long time to warm up to this category and investing in it. Some of the reasons behind this slow move include notions on the lack of personas, placements, engagement, and brand safety.
  • With the increasing incidence of gaming especially during the pandemic, brands would do well to evaluate and see the mobile gamers as a relevant target audience.
  • As per the findings, 74% of the gamers prefer to watch gaming advertisements over in-app purchases when they have to move to the next stage in the game.

Expert speaks

  • The Indian gaming ecosystem has grown and matured in the last year with India emerging as the 5th largest mobile gaming market across the world. The gaming culture seems to be here to stay, competing with other popular entertainment categories such as short-form videos, streaming services and social networks.
  • According to Vasuta Agarwal, managing director, Asia Pacific, InMobi, “Gaming is the biggest opportunity for brands to maximize impact with video and other engaging formats in 2021. Be it women, millennials, sports enthusiasts, or OTT viewers, everybody is gaming among us.” Gaming is one of the most scalable channels for brands to reach diverse target audiences, she adds.