As per a new paid market report by NikoPartners, India is one of the fastest-growing mobile gaming and esports markets in the world, closely followed by Indonesia and Thailand. All of this was kickstarted by the internet revolution started by an Indian telecommunication company, known now as “Reliance Jio”, back in 2016.
Reliance Jio currently holds a 35.34% market share (as per a November 2020 report) with approximately 400 million subscribers, the highest in the country. The first 9 months of 2020 also recorded India as having the highest number of mobile game downloads in the world. Home to the second most smartphone and internet users in the world, with only China surpassing it in that regard, the investment potential is huge.
Jio has been trying to breakthrough in this particular regard by introducing startup accelerator programs such as “JioGenNext” and an exclusive “Jio App Store” where game developers are supported and the games published respectively. In 2019, “Jio Games” was launched as well, publishing games for casual gamers, spanning genres including racing and action to sports and board games.
|Reliance Jio||35.34% ||406,350,000 |
|Bharti Airtel ||28.97% ||330,280,000 |
|Idea-Vodafone ||25.10% ||292,830,000 |
|BSNL ||10.30% ||118,880,000 |
|MTNL ||0.29% ||3,400,000|
This has led to an increase of almost 172% in the number of mobile gamers in the country from 2016 to 2020. To further capitalise on the market, Jio has been at the forefront of the efforts in trying to establish 5G connectivity in the country. In 2020 it opened up equity funding from global giants, including Intel, Google and Facebook, and has so far raised a total of around $20 billion by selling an equivalent of 32.79% of its stake. This was also interestingly right after the Indian Government had restricted foreign direct investment from China.
Jio aims to leverage the new technological capabilities and data available to it through these investors to develop and deploy 5G technology while also manufacturing cheap affordable smartphones for the Indian market. Formerly, Jio had launched its own “LYF” smartphones bundled with 4G services, affordably priced between $75 to $275. For now, its partnership with Qualcomm focuses on a similar development and deployment of indigenously built 5G technologies, while the partnership with Google is focused on developing low-cost phones for 4G and 5G networks. Jio has also partnered with Microsoft to launch the game streaming service Project xCloud in India, a global competitor to Google’s Stadia. There are also a bunch of other partnerships ranging from Samsung to AR gaming startup Krikey that are part of the aforementioned deals.
Jio’s entry into the whole mobile gaming market and ecosystem can be expected to kick-off another revolution in the Indian market with India’s mobile game revenue already having a yearly growth rate of 53.7% (compared to the PC games growth rate of 20.9%). Jio’s inexperience with the gaming market is, however, a significant hurdle at the moment, though it was been dipping its toes by organising esports tournaments, such as the “Free Fire” tournament, a rival to PUBG mobile which was banned in India along with other Chinese apps. It’s also in talks with other gaming companies and developers to push the envelope on this market, with the number of developers in India having increased to 275 from just 25 back in 2010.
With a planned introduction of 5G technologies in 2021’s second half, the potential for cloud gaming is also huge considering the ability to stream games at much higher qualities courtesy of centralised heavy processing power as opposed to the weaker processing power of smartphones. What happens next remains to be seen but there seems to be no slowing the growth of the Indian mobile gaming market for now.