Pandemic’s impact on India’s gaming industry


The onset of Covid-19 has brought major changes in people’s lifestyle. Forced to live in seclusion and do almost everything remotely, especially in the lockdown phase, brought paradigm shifts in consumer behavior. Confined to their homes, people had more time and a growing thirst for entertainment and thrill, and online gaming came to their rescue.

Before Covid-19 struck India, at least half of the Indian population or about 627 million people had access to the internet. A 2019 Cyber Media Research found that 86% Indian men and 95% Indian women owning smartphones play games on their phones.

Online gaming was already growing speedily in India since past few years. India’s fantasy sports players increased from 2 million in 2017 to 50 million in 2019 and by 2020, the number is projected to reach the 100 million mark. Industry data says that during the lockdown months, India’s online gaming industry grew at a rate of 21%. Here’s listing some prime impacts of the pandemic on India’s gaming industry.

Impact#1: Online gaming became more accessible

Online gaming portals started experiencing surge right from March. Between March 1-21, Publicis Groupe India reported 41% spike in time spent. An interview drive by Niko found many young gamers had increased their daily game playing span, some even doubled or tripled. Games like Ludo King and Teen Patti – Online Poker became a family favorite, while PUBG mobile and Clash of Clans saw significant rise in users. Paytm First Games user base grew 3 times in March.

Impact#2: Offline tournaments were cancelled

Although online e-sports was growing fast, several offline esports tournaments were cancelled due to the lockdown. Several such events were shifted to online mode due to the pandemic.

Impact#3: Rise in positive perception of gaming by government and society

Due to the increased reach of gaming, the state government of Kerala introduced a coronavirus themed mobile game to spread awareness about the pandemic. The Indian government also addressed the entrepreneurial potential of the gaming industry, when in the aftermath of the PUBG ban, honorable Prime Minister called for Indian game developers to create indigenous games to capture the growing domestic market.

Additionally, with pandemic led job losses on the rise, professional gaming gained positive attention. Further, many people felt that playing games was “cool” and increased their strategic decision-making capabilities. With growing popularity and acceptance of online gaming, Akshat Rathee, co-founder of Nodwin Gaming envisions opening esports gaming academies in India, that abound in China, US and Europe.

Impact#4: Push for #MakeInIndia games

After the pandemic increased the user base and average time spend of the gaming industry, the entrepreneurial opportunity came under spotlight. Soon after, the ban of PUBG and several other Chinese games, left a gaping hole in the Indian gaming industry. These two factors have prompted Indian companies to accelerate developing and launching of #MakeInIndia games.

India gaming companies have taken this opportunity very seriously and many companies have fast-tracked their game development agendas. Companies like Nazara Technlogies, Hitwicket Games, Octro, 99Games and Gamezop are enhancing their offerings. Ahmedabad based NxGn Interactive’s Twelfth Man, a fantasy football game is a new entrant in the arena, while the most recent game to join the fleet was Bangalore’s nCore Game’s FAU-G, launched by the Bollywood star Akshay Kumar.

If Indian companies can match the quality and creativity of their international counterparts, they will definitely capture a sizable domestic market-share, helping the industry to flourish further. Overall, one must admit that online gaming industry, not only in India but globally positive impact due to the pandemic and with the rights steps, the positive growth is likely to continue in the “new normal” as well.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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