New Delhi: “Freefire khelna hai ya PUBG? (Want to play Freefire or PUBG?)” a security guard asked his fellow at a bank near Bluestacks office. CEO of Bluestacks Rosen Sharma, who overheard the conversation between the two security guards, told Zee News English that he has been visiting the bank for the last 20 years, and has always watched them playing cards to kill boredom. But times have changed. India’s digital revolution, fueled by cheaper bandwidth, affordable smartphones, and access to high-speed internet, has indeed provided the much-need push for mobile gaming.
For the unversed, PUBG Mobile and Garena Free Fire are two of the most popular free-to-play battle royale games in India. Both have tens of millions of users who tirelessly enjoy playing them for long hours. (ALSO READ: Swiggy Moonlighting Policy: Company allows employees to work with other firms to make more moolah)
Narrating another such incident, Sharma said that he saw two people playing Ludo King, another popular game that has successfully hooked millions on their smartphones, near Charminar in Hyderabad. Sharma called the rise of mobile gamers in India a ‘grassroots evolution’. (ALSO READ: Microfinance borrowers’ resilience behind MFI industry’s turnaround post-COVID: Muthoot Microfin CEO)
The number of online gamers in India is indeed increasing at a rapid pace. According to a March 21 report by EY and FICCI, in terms of annual revenue, the online gaming market in India increased by 28% from approximately $1 billion in 2020 to $1.25 billion in 2021. The report estimated rapid growth for the gaming segment in 2022 as well.
Rise And Rise of Real Money, Action Games
Bluestacks CEO Sharma said that real money gaming is becoming really popular in India. But that didn’t happen overnight. Mobile-friendly real-money gaming platforms like Dream11, RummyCircle, MPL, Winzo, and Junglee Rummy, among others, have spent millions of dollars in advertising and marketing campaigns to make gamers get the addiction to winning cash in high-risk games.
80 million people were paying gamers in 2020, with real-money games still accounting for the majority of the market’s revenue, according to ‘India Gaming Report 2021’ by Lumikai and Redseer.
The report predicted that in-app spending in casual and hyper-casual gaming is expected to balloon at a rate of 30–40 per cent over the next five years due to the increase in paying customers. Rightly so, especially with the way battlegrounds games such as PUBG Mobile India and Garena Free Fire are getting traction.
Impressed with the burgeoning popularity of online gaming in India and the ever-rising purchasing power of Indians, Sharma foresees India becoming one of the top five gaming countries in the world in the coming years.
Ready Player One: Cloud Gaming
The mobile gaming industry is changing at a rapid pace. Gone are the days when you have to make space for sizable games, deleting not-so-important apps, photos, and other files.
Gamers are now simply tuning to cloud gaming to play games running on sophisticated machines anywhere in the world. Affordable internet means they don’t even have to give two hoots about running low on data.
“Mobile cloud is going to happen,” says Sharma, explaining most gamers save downloading time and data by switching to cloud gaming. It’s a simple plug-and-play for gamers who don’t really understand the tech behind it, he added.
Globally, there are so many options to choose from. For instance, the likes of Google and Amazon have their own cloud gaming apps. However, most services are limited to big screens – not accessible by the masses in India.
Bluestacks appears to have a solution for this problem in Bluestacks X, an online cloud gaming platform that lets gamers play games on any web browser of choice such as Google Chrome and Firefox, and on any device such as an Android phone, Windows or PC. “Bluestacks is focussed on cloud gaming because mass gaming is happening on mobile,” said Sharma.