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Gaming In 2023: From Touching New Heights To Expanding Horizons

The future belongs to the blockchain, Web3 and AR/VR. At least, that is the sentiment. If all goes well, soon, these terms will become more than just jargon. However, true actualisation will take a lot of time as well as effort.

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“Gaming in 2023 is going to be ‘the industry’ to watch out for” is the sentiment with which gaming as an industry will be entering the year 2023. India is home to over 400 million gamers at the moment spanning over geographies, genders and age-groups. The exponential growth of the market tells us two things for sure. Firstly, this upward trajectory will continue due to the vast majority of a younger user base and secondly, the higher purchase propensity of gaming consumers will provide the necessary boost to OEMs.

Notable mentions here would be the emergence of better internet infrastructure and the hype behind the use of Web3 in gaming which will translate into the existence of decentralized and interoperable gameplay experiences. Both these trends will see prominence in gaming in 2023.  

Adding to this, the gaming industry is not limited to just gaming anymore. There has also been the creation of a new content ecosystem primarily driven by esports players, gaming content creators and live streamers. Real-money gaming and fantasy sports are still the flagbearers as far as revenue generation is concerned. 2022 was a phenomenal year for Indian gaming, to say the least with the industry crossing USD 2.6 billion in value (Lumikai Report 2022).

2022 is also the year when India became the largest consumer of mobile games in the world, leaving China and the United States in the rear-view mirror with 15 billion downloads. Job creation is another element that has quite recently caught a lot of attention. As per TeamLease Digital, the gaming industry is projected to add one lakh direct as well as indirect new jobs by the financial year 2023.

Gaming: The Year Ahead 

The year ahead is going to maintain this dramatic growth forward with an influx of new technology. 2023 will also witness brands invest aggressively in gaming. Gaming-centric consumer tech products will take flight and so will adaptations to innovations such as cloud gaming, Metaverse and Web3. Cybersecurity is also a segment that will see an upward curve. With an increase in online gaming, the need of improved online security has never been higher.

Nitish Singal, the Head of Personal Systems at HP India is especially optimistic about Indian gaming and its role in the growing industry. “We are also seeing the adoption of multiple career opportunities in the gaming segment as influencer, streaming, or gaming software developer – this is set to evolve,” added Singal.

Pujan Chadha, the Director for Product Marketing - India Consumer at Dell Technologies emphasised on the imperative role of technology going forward and stated that the gaming sector in India will create a cohesive environment for business and career opportunities, with technology as the underlying factor. “AR, VR and edge technologies, integrated with 5G, will play an important role in making gaming more immersive and portable. Grassroot engagement programmes in schools/colleges will also result in an influx of new talent entering the spotlight,” added Chadha.

Indian Esports To Emerge As An Industry Cornerstone 

Indian Esports saw a sharp rise in popularity in 2022 with milestones like the Indian Dota 2 contingent winning a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Esports Championship and esports being included as a medal sport in the Asian Games 2022 (to be held in 2023). As per gaming-focused venture capital fund Lumikai’s recent sturdy, the esports industry, (barring real money and fantasy gaming), is expected to grow to USD 4 billion by the fiscal year ending March 2027, compared to USD 1.1 billion in 2022.

“I expect Indian gaming to come of age in 2023 with growth in monetization, clearer regulation, and new gaming companies being set up. I also think that global companies will look at India as a large potential market and will enter directly or will partner with local players to tap the market,” said Nitish Mittersain, Joint Managing Director and CEO, Nazara Technologies.

Rishabh Bhansali, the co-founder of the esports platform FanClash stated that the gaming industry will undergo unprecedented transformation. The esports business, in particular, is one of the key drivers that may transform casual sports fans into devoted gamers, thanks to constant technological improvements,” added Bhansali. The number of gamers is predicted to exceed 450 million by the year 2023. Interest in several of its verticals, including fantasy sports, will also soar with time and technology develops.

Lokesh Suji, Director, Esports Federation of India and Vice President of the Asian Esports Federation said in a statement that 2022 was a year of remarkable milestones. That said, the year 2023 holds tremendous growth and potential for the Indian esports industry. “The Olympic Esports Week and Asian Games will witness India making its mark on the international stage,” added Suji. He further opined that the advent of 5G, the Metaverse and Web3 is going to radically shake things up for the better and propel the industry towards a new dimension.

Animesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO, 8bit Creatives argued for the motion as well. He stated that the first welcome change should be the number of games we envision becoming more popular. Titles such as New State and Pokemon Unite are already showing signs of growth. “The growth of endemic and non-endemic brands looking to work with gamers, both casual and pro,” added Agarwal.

Rohit N. Jagasia, the Founder and CEO of Revenant Esports specified, with enthusiasm, if I might add, that 2023 is going to be a good year for esports in general. “With prime events like the Pokémon Unite Asia Championship followed by a potential World Championship again and Brawl Stars seeing a solid esports plan for the year, 2023 is looking great for esports,” added Jagasia.

Director of Chemin Esports, Ishan Verma also has strong opinions about esports doing well in 2023. “One of the major reasons behind this growth is the easy access to the Internet that has made the fantasy gaming industry a million-dollar one. It will reach new heights with greater connectivity, advanced technology in both large and small devices and a broader appeal among audiences,” added Verma.

Content Creation: An Emerging Sub-Division Of The Gaming Ecosystem 

2022 saw the Indian gaming industry reach unprecedented heights in content streaming, thanks to over 400 million gamers and over 100 million gamers actively playing FPS (first-person shooter) games. Content creation has seen a massive surge since the pandemic struck the world in 2020. Budding content creators are now seen in every avenue there is including gaming. 

We spoke to Manohar Hotchandani, Director of Business Development, Meta India and we asked him about the Indian gaming landscape moving towards India-first games including an increased emphasis on vernacular content. He stated that the country is ready to move on from English language content to focus on regional language-based content. Meta is playing its role here as a facilitator and an enabler by providing creator programs to gaming content creators from tier 1 and tier 2 cities.

“This has reverberated on Loco as well, with multiple streams crossing the 100,000 concurrent mark followed by a record-breaking 100 million views for the BGMI Master Series 2022 with over 258,000 concurrent live views for a single esports broadcast. This event saw higher viewership on Loco than on TV broadcast, marking the highest live sports viewership after cricket in India,” said Ashwin Suresh, founder, Loco.“Looking ahead to 2023, 5G technology will accelerate consumer behaviour towards the adoption of gaming and live streaming as a mainstream entertainment platform,” added Suresh.

Founder and CEO of gaming and the esports content platform Rooter, Piyush Kumar feels strongly about the bright future of gaming content creation as well. “In 2023, we expect to play the lead role in driving India’s Gaming creator economy and are actively working on building out more content categories, developing a robust commerce ecosystem. We strongly believe that 2023 is going to be a defining year for this sunrise industry,” stated Kumar.

Game Creation To Take A New Direction 

With a plethora of new trends emerging in 2022, the game creation business will also see a metamorphosis of sorts. Some might even argue that this transformation has already begun. The focus is gradually shifting from flashy objects and mind-boggling animation to value addition. Gamers are searching for value as well as relatability.

Technology such as the Metaverse and blockchain are already on the rise but their practical adoption will take time. In fact, it will require a major push to bring them into the mainstream. On the other hand, AR and VR have already become favourite avenues for game creators. It is safe to say that technology will blur the boundaries between cinematic entertainment and the gaming industry. A few good examples would be Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding 2 and CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077.

Roby John, Co-founder and CEO of SuperGaming stated that one important direction he sees the future of gaming heading in will be content creator-led and personality-driven. He strongly believes that the future of games is focusing on human elements. "The confluence of game development expertise and content creator-powered distribution will ensure games are perceived as genuine, earnest efforts, necessary to breakthrough and make an honest connection with players and the community as a whole,” added John.

Marketing Lead, India and South Asia at Riot Games, Ashish Gupta mentioned a report by Statista stating that at 17 million in 2021, the number of esports viewers in India has nearly doubled since 2019 and is estimated to grow to 85 million viewers spread across 20 different platforms by 2025. “As we enter 2023, we are very optimistic about the growth of the country's gaming industry. We see India and South Asia as upcoming markets with deep and enthusiastic ecosystems,” added Gupta.

Bharat Patel, Chairman and Director at Yudiz Solutions, another player in the Indian game creation ecosystem stated that 2023 is going to be a prosperous year for the game development industry as it moves forward with an organized approach to achieving advance technicality and inconceivable creative synergism. “As a game development company, we will have to play our role aptly and consider every sufficient factor to enable the industry in every possible way,” added Patel.

Ramesh Krishnamurthy, the COO and Head of iXie Gaming at Indium Software claimed that 2023 is going to be a very interesting year for the gaming industry from a content and quality perspective. “The year ahead will see more games being built for Metaverse. Adoption of NFTs and blockchain is also likely to grow much faster than before,” added Krishnamurthy.

Games Of Skill: To Remain An Industry Leading Segment 

It appears that 2023 will be a year of technological advancement and innovation for the skilled-based gaming fraternity as well. 

Satyam Rastogi, the founder and CEO at Khiladi Adda and GamerPe stated that the increasing popularity of casual gaming along with the wider acceptability of esports as a legitimate sporting activity has opened up the space even further. Real-money gaming companies like Dream11, Games24/7 and Khiladiadda have further boosted the demand by bringing in an extra element of instant gratification added with the thrill of games.

CEO of All India Gaming Federation, Roland Landers said in a statement that he is hopeful that the new year will see the Indian Gaming industry scale to much greater heights and become a much more competitive player not just in India, but also in the global arena. “Online gaming is Digital India’s success story, and we hope to see newer developments and innovations which can provide users with more experimental experiences such as AR/VR gaming and cloud gaming through 5G,” added Landers.

Deepak Gullapalli, the CEO of Head digital Works pointed out that 2023 will indeed be a year of innovation. “We believe that 2023 will be a year of growth and innovation for our company and the gaming industry as a whole,” stated Gullapalli. He further added that Head Digital Works also wants to focus on its messaging around responsible gaming and educate users on the importance of playing responsibly.

Vernacular-based gaming is something that 2022 will be known for. This trend will only carry forward into 2023. “Gaming apps built in a way that they can be accessed from any iOS and Android smartphone, even the lower-end ones, will see higher penetration in the remote parts of India in 2023,” said Saumya Singh Rathore, Co-founder, WinZo.

Online real-money gaming is expected to reach USD 182 billion by the year 2025. Given the magnitude and the pace at which this segment is growing, it is safe to assume that there will be a lot of drastic changes seen in the near future. Commenting on this, Ankur Singh, the CEO and Founder of Witzeal Technologies stated that this expansion will result in a diverse range of employment and revenue-generating opportunities. “As per media reports, India now witnesses almost equal traction from gamers in tier 2 and 3 towns as it does from metropolitan cities,” added Singh.

Varun Ganjoo, the Co-founder and CMO of Baazi Games shared his opinion about the future of real-money gaming in the country as well. His emphasis on the role of next-gen tech was clear. “As far as the RMG sector is concerned, it already caters to a larger chunk of the revenue share accounting for nearly 57 per cent of the industry revenues. The number of in-app purchases will continue to grow and it will be the predominant source of revenue for the firms,” added Ganjoo.

Tech: The Way Forward? 

Looking at the unprecedented growth of this sunrise industry, the adoption of next-gen tech such as 5G, 360-degree video, augmented and virtual realities, and of course, Web3 will play a monumental role in the growth of this market in the year 2023. The recent introduction of 5G in the Indian ecosystem should definitely have an impact on the gaming industry in India. 

As the technology supporting the industry evolves, we are going to witness the implementation of blockchain gaming, the Metaverse, AI-based gaming tech and AR/VR tech. "To cater to gamers' evolving gameplay preferences, the video games market will continue to grow parallel to technological advancements. It’s predicted that AR and VR video game markets will reach $11.0 billion by 2026. In addition, the number of Indian gamers is set to reach 450 million by 2023, according to a report from EY and FICCI. All of which lends itself to heightened interest in the category," said Stewart Neal, Studio Director, Sumo India Studio

The same can be said for 5G. Recently launched in India at the India Mobile Congress, 5G is surely going to have massive implications on the Indian gaming landscape. “With the launch of 5G in India, we expect the growth rate to be far greater. There has been an uptick in cloud gaming with a peak of 20 million daily playtime mins in the US alone and this will continue to grow throughout 2023. The combination of 5G and cloud gaming will further disrupt the gaming universe,” said Juhi Hajela, Vice President, Global Marketing,

The CEO and Founder of Gamerji, Soham Thacker believes that the gaming industry will step out of games as entertainment and become a mass medium for brand engagement. Now, this will have huge implications as marketing practices will once again be disrupted. “In 2023, we are expecting to see a lot more non-gaming platforms adapting game elements in their marketing strategy and directly engaging with their audience,” added Thacker.

Ritesh Chopra, Norton Director Sales and Field Marketing, India & SAARC Countries, NortonLifeLock stated the importance of security amidst the rise of online gaming. “Gamers are engaging in unsafe gaming practices and putting their personal information at risk. With an unlikely scenario of a surge in cyber threats, the gaming landscape for the next year looks promising,” added Chopra.

As the industry continues to gain momentum, commercialization will become increasingly prominent, with bigger events with larger prize pools. Technology will hands-down play a massive role in this act. Job creation and various methods of customer engagement through gamification will emerge in a major way. The trend of vernacular content creation as well as consumption will only grow further going into 2023. The future belongs to the blockchain, Web3 and AR/VR. Soon, these terms will become more than just jargon. However, true actualisation will take a lot of time as well as effort. The Indian gaming industry, needless to say, has caught the eye of the world as it shines bright brimming with untapped potential.