The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown stadiums and sporting arenas into silence, with
players asked to stay put in their home. But the quarantine culture has seen a
surge in online gaming and mobile gaming in particular since that?s just more
accessible and convenient.

A recentNielsenreport shows that use of smartphones among Indians has increased
9% to over 3 hours 40 minutes daily compared to pre-lockdown times.
Consequently, there has been a mad rush among social networking sites, OTT
streaming platforms, online chat applications to get a share of this surge.
Gaming platforms seem to be a clear winner as time spent on them has increased
from 22% to 30% even as the share of social networking remained flat during the
period.

Diving a bit deeper into numbers, we sawPUBG Mobile, which is among the most
popular mobile gaming titles in India, become the the top-grossing mobile game
in terms of revenue in the month of May. According to a report by Sensor Tower,
Tencent earned over $226 million (approximately INR 1.7 thousand crore) in user
spending, making it the highest-grossing game in the world for the particular
month.

India, as a market already falls into the top five mobile gaming markets bracket
in the world and is said to have 300 million gamers in FY19. And with the
COVID-19 lockdown, the online gaming market in India is witnessing a
skyrocketing increase in user engagement, especially when we talk of the casual
mobile gaming segment.

Manish Agarwal, CEO at Nazara Technologies, a Mumbai-headquartered gaming
investmemt firmspeaking to?Financial Express
[https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/technology/e-sports-gaming-hit-the-jackpot-during-covid-19-lockdown/] recently stated, ?We believe that this is the moment when Indians will truly
become gamers and gaming adoption will penetrate even more, resulting in
addition of over 100 million new gamers in India in the next 60 days.?

As per Agarwal virtual sports have taken off at a time when most of us have
witnessed a postponement of live sporting events like the Indian Premier League.
Nazara saw an increase of 20% in time spent on its network platforms during the
first couple of weeks of the lockdown and a five time increase of in-app
purchases during the period.

Similarly, Paavan Nanda, co-founder at WinZo Games ? another major e-sports
gaming platformspoke to?ET Digital
[https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/newsbuzz/for-indian-gaming-startups-covid-19-lockdown-is-a-boon-for-business/articleshow/75115595.cms] in a separate interview during which he said, ?The surge for us came suddenly.
On the weekend of March 15, there was a 3x increase in game plays and 30% higher
traffic. As the country locked down, this grew every single hour.?

Launched last year, Paytm First Games, the gaming arm of the fintech giant
Paytm, has also witnessed a 200% increase in the user base in the last one
month. ?Our app sees more than half a million daily active gamers on the
platform spending anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes,? said Sudhanshu Gupta, COO,
Paytm First Games, adding that more than 75,000 new users have appeared in the
last few weeks.

While its been smooth sailing on the mobile side of things for most Indian
company, life hasn?t been as hunky-dory for all PC-gaming platforms.

Things aren?t all smooth-sailing for Fantasy e-sports players
Now, in India, online games with many genres, fall into three broad categories ?
casual games, e-sports and real money games or skill-based online games played
for stakes.

According to a report by News18, close to all real money games of which fantasy
games like ? Final Fantasy VII and World of Warcraft ? play a massive stake, are
played by paying real money. And since players put in actual money, the stakes
are raised by developers and game studios to offer prize money. All such games
are collectively known as transaction-based games. These are the biggest revenue
source for the industry.

According to alatest report of industry body FICCI
[http://ficci.in/study-page.asp?spid=23200%C2%A7orid=13], the total revenue of
the Indian gaming Industry was around INR 6,460 crore in 2019. Of this, INR
4,600 crore came from the TBG segment alone. The remaining was from casual and
no-money games which depend on advertisements and in-game purchases for income.
The total revenue is projected to increase to INR 18,740 crore by the end of
2022, with share of TBG rising to INR 15,530 crore.

Fantasy games are played online by selecting a virtual team of real players
participating in an ongoing sporting event. The gamer, who creates such a team
or teams, gains points based on the actual performance of the players during the
tournament. The highest point earner wins. In the non-fantasy segment, however,
the gamer participates directly in the virtual games.

As per statements gathered by numerous publications from industry players, we
know that there is an over two-fold rise in the number of gamers of casual and
other non-fantasy games during the lockdown. But the fantasy segment, dependent
on real sports events, has plummeted to almost zero. Interestingly, It had seen
a whopping over 100% growth in its revenue in 2019.

This tumbling is due to sudden postponement and cancellation of various sporting
events, mainly the IPL. It has also given rise to apprehensions about loss of
investors? interest. With its exponential growth in the last couple of years,
the segment run by a majority of startups, had emerged as investors? favorite,
attracting over $150 million. Most of the around 70 fantasy gaming platforms in
India are owned by startups.