The gaming industry in India has grown exponentially over the past few years with over 450 million active gamers and streamers till date and more being added to the mix. As the gaming graph shows an upward trend, industry stakeholders are already looking at its next level- Real Money Gaming (RMG), which refers to actual money spent on and earned in online casino games, daily fantasy sports, regulated sports betting, and lotteries.
From gaming companies and advertisers to A&M agencies to industry analysts, all are betting big on this gaming niche as the sector expands. Shivanandan Pare, Executive Director & CEO, Gaussian Networks (Adda52.com and Addagames.in), says there is an increasing interest in skill-based games like ‘Poker’, which has a reasonable possibility of making some profit. Indeed, it’s part of a bigger ecosystem. He notes, “Globally, gaming is already bigger than Hollywood and the music industry combined. If 2010-2020 was the decade of streaming services, according to me, 2020-2030, will see entertainment and pop culture driven by gaming.”
Pare believes that this heightened interest of different groups in gaming, both businesses and customers, will see a synergy between different brands that can use the universality of gaming as a platform to promote their own companies. Moreover, those playing RMG are likely to have higher disposable incomes, could provide a lucrative return on advertising to that base.
Agencies are also focusing heavily on gaming, as the global gaming industry’s worth stood at US$300 billion in 2022. Of this, India makes up a sliver at roughly one percent market share. The number in itself is nothing to sneeze at though, given that Indian gaming companies spent Rs 1400 crore on ad spends in 2021 alone.
“It makes sense for gaming companies to convert casual gamers, which make up the vast majority of the gamers, into customers who play RMG. The Indian gaming industry isn’t well monetized yet, with only 13-15% gamers who actually pay and play. That’s some 96-100 million people in the country, and while it’s a big number it can be a lot bigger” says Ramsai Panchapakesan, Senior Vice President and National Head – Integrated Media Buying, Zenith.
“Gaming is definitely going to be a huge focus for us,” says Nitin Gupta, CEO, Xapads Media, adding that companies looking to associate with gaming companies are no longer confined to those targeting younger audiences but wanting to appeal across demographics, given the deep penetration of gaming.
These synergies are happening mostly online. With the recent return to normalcy, industry insiders expect on-ground events to also attract brand association. “I believe people inherently want to go out and meet in person. Of course, digital has become part of every activity now, and people will still play online, but we’re going to see a lot more people stepping out to play and engage with the community,” says Pare, whose company recently concluded a year-long poker championship – Adda52 Champions Leaderboard (ACL) 2021, and saw players from all walks of life and across the country compete for a spot in the leader boards, crowned with the championship round held physically in Goa.
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