Earlier this month, I went to my home town in Rajasthan and played PUBG in the overnight bus from Jaipur to Bikaner. I thought I would play one game while the bus was still in Jaipur as the game requires high speed data to play with 100 players synchronously. To my surprise, I ended up playing for four straight hours through the night while the bus travelled through rural Rajasthan – and the game worked throughout!
It was just one example of how India is now truly connected and how things that we thought were unimaginable not so long ago are a reality today. When Jio rolled out its nationwide network and slashed wireless broadband prices, it unleashed – among other things – the tailwind needed for the development of the Indian mobile gaming ecosystem. Global games with a massive following in other markets have been waiting on the sidelines for a long time.
PUBG, from Tencent, has not only taken the lead in gaining the Indian gaming mindshare but is leading the way for the creation of amazing games for India over the next decade.
When I was moving back to India two years ago, one thing was clear to me – India’s masses have a lot of free time. Whenever I spent time at my cousin’s shop in a Tier 3 town, or in my village in Rajasthan, I could see that people had at least 3-4 hours to kill during their work day. This is excluding the 5-6 hours they have after work when there is little to do in these small towns. This insight made me a firm believer that if a company could provide a credible way for people to kill time on their phones, adoption would be massive. Again, from global experience, I felt that video consumption and mobile gaming would get maximum traction.
We have seen the early signs of growth for the mobile gaming ecosystem in India for the last two years. Game downloads have increased 8-10x, with the active mobile gaming population growing to approximately 200 million. [Source: ET Bureau and App Annie]. This number is expected to grow to 450 million by 2021. Even though the numbers seem large, these are still early days of gaming in India.