As the world grapples with the continued lockdown brought about by coronavirus, one sector remained relatively affected: online gaming.
Online Gaming Is Not A Fad
In fact, mobile-first markets like India have been thriving during the pandemic as more and more consumers turn to technology as they go about their day. Dr. Subi Chaturvedi, Chief Corporate Affairs & Policy Officer at online skill-based games and gamification platform Zupee, said the two segments that registered considerable growth in 2019-2020 were online gaming and digital media—and online gaming, in particular, “is the only segment that exceeded the expected growth, standing at a 43% YoY.”
In an interview with BW BusinessWorld, Dr. Chaturvedi said: “Higher data consumption, cheapest prices for data and access, 700m people online, consistently lowering prices of the smartphone, when clubbed with renewable power and local language content, makes India a big hub of gaming. Hence, this is where the next decade of online gaming comes in.”
India has about 760 million internet users, according to an ENV Media report quoting government estimates. More than half of this number, or roughly 365 million, play their games online via their mobile devices. It’s worth noting that rural internet users are driving the market growth. As a SevenJackpots report pointed out: “Rural users and expanding demographics sustain the segment growth—middle-aged and female gamers are all on the rise. Around half of all Indian 11-year-olds are also reported to have their own smartphone, with rural families increasingly able to provide smartphones to their kids.”
This is the reason why Dr. Chaturvedi is steadfast that online gaming “is not a fad that will disappear sometime soon. This is not something that started in a garage. This is a serious sector that global investors are looking at.”
Online gaming needs ‘Central Progressive Policy’
To attract those global investors, India's central and state governments must first address the challenges that surround the online gaming industry: the uncertain regulatory environment.
India is passionate about gambling, but the government needs to keep up with the changing times. Currently, the online gaming industry is operating under vague and outdated regulation that differs depending on which state they’re operating in. Having “a central progressive policy” will protect investors and companies and boost the growth of new users and territories, Dr. Chaturvedi said.
Analysts at SevenJackpots echo this sentiment. In its recent report that tackles when the gambling industry should regulate, SevenJackpots research analysts explained how an updated, uniform, and transparent regulatory framework will be advantageous to the people who play their casino games online and for the states bottom lines.
“Transparent regulation will help the best gambling platforms prove their integrity to the public eye. Formal guidelines on online gambling will improve the business climate and bring benefits to State coffers,” according to the report. “A regulated market is better than an illegally functioning one. Examples of effective gambling regulation are found easily: licensing, taxation, and monitoring come first. Corruption and lobbying need to be rooted out with precise legal definitions, altogether raising consumer protection standards.”