The Impact of COVID-19 on India's Gaming Ecosystem
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on the economies of various sectors in our country. Despite this, the Indian online gaming market is poised to grow to $1 billion by 2021 as the entire sector has remained resilient and also seen significant growth during this period.
In Republic of Games by CNBCTV18.com and Akamai, Megha Vishwanath spoke to leaders in the gaming industry about the current trends in the ecosystem.
Significant Surge in Gaming During Lockdown
At the very outset, the lockdown significantly increased people's engagement with games. Therefore, every company had to do a great deal of ramping up and adapting at the back-end to support the increasing traffic.
Swapnil Shaha, COO of Games91, said, "There were a lot of gamers coming in from all across... we almost had got a 500% surge on traffic."
Sidharth Kedia, Group CEO of Nodwin Gaming, too reported a massive surge in gamers on his platform. In his own words, "...the numbers from last year to this year surged 19x..."
The idea that the last 5-6 months saw a greater surge than the past few years found consensus across the panel. Every platform had to do something different in order to reel in more gamers and sustain the increased traffic they were now seeing.
The ban on PUBG sent every platform back to their drawing boards. Speaking about the impact of the ban, Firasat Durrani, VC - Operations at Loco, said, "From one of the insights I saw somewhere, 64% of gaming content consumed on YouTube came from PUBG."
However, as a broadcast app, Loco saw a dip for only as much as a week, till most users moved on to other games. The ecosystem, in this case, had a way of bouncing back.
Challenges Faced by the Sector at Large
The gaming sector, just like every other, has had to find means and ways to cater to the sudden shift in working remotely, while building up the infrastructure to cater to increasing traffic.
Scaling, however, doesn't come automatically, as rightly pointed out by Sidharth Pisharoti, RVP, Media and Carrier Division, Akamai, “Not all games are successful. But all games that are successful definitely use the right kind of technology out there, the right partner that helps them to scale and secure their infrastructure and platform.” he said.
He also goes on to say, "Not all games are successful. All games that are successful definitely use the right kind of technology out there, the right partner that helps them to scale and secure their infrastructure and platform."
This planning also includes responding to security concerns, with DDoS attacks and credential stuffing attacks rising exponentially with the increased traffic and users.
A Sea of Changes
Currently, existing players are getting a head start. Plus, this is also a time where homegrown players have a chance to make an entrance.
However, it will be crucial to take care of the quality of service in terms of fast download speeds, a greater reliance on cloud technology while also incorporating localized content to appeal to a larger base.
During a time of significant changes, it's also essential to understand the difference between the Indian market from those abroad; Indian players prefer playing these games on their mobiles as opposed to their gaming PCs or laptops.
Additionally, these games need to cater to people much beyond the metropolitan areas as they've been gaining increasing popularity even in remote areas.
What Could the Future Look Like?
Gaming has seen various changes over the years, from the days of the cassettes to the smartphone ecosystem today. Looking ahead, we could see a way for gamers to continually improve their skills by playing against or learning from gamers whose skills they admire.
To this, Naman Jhawar, Senior VP - Strategy and Ops at MPL, added, "You will see professional athletes like a Virat Kohli or a Dhoni being created out of gamers as well... We're already seeing this in terms of smaller platforms..."
Additionally, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence will also have a huge role to play in revolutionizing the gaming industry. The right kind of technology is important for platforms to find success in the present and scale up. The 5G revolution will also have a vital role to play going forward.
Despite some major changes, the gaming industry has managed to steadily grow and increase players during this economic slump. This short span has contributed significantly to the ever evolving fast paced gaming sector.
This is a partnered post.
First Published: IST