Indian internet users have been spending more time on the web. While the focus has drifted away from traditional channels of entertainment, such as television; on-demand live content streaming and gaming sectors has seen an explosive boost.
Gaming platforms like Apple App Store and Google Play Store recorded a 50% increase in user engagement. Currently, there are 300 million users of gaming apps in India, and Deloitte predicts that online gaming will add 40 million more by 2022. The projected global growth of e-sports consumption would reach $1.5 billion by 2023.
As digital gaming and entertainment became mainstream, people started expecting more diverse content, and the number of domestic software developing companies in this segment grew to 400.
With billions of dollars to be profited, how are developers achieving the revenue?
Like everything else, there has been a different perspective in revenue sources in the industry. Earlier, where sites used to sell games, now they make money in various other opportunistic monetisation strategies like:
Free-to-play model: Users can play the games for free of cost, while the revenue comes from in-game features like premium purchases, virtual goods, fancy costumes, etc. Players can use them to enhance their gaming experiences and add more thrill.
Demo and full versions: Many games and sites allow a free trial version, called a limited or demo version, where users get a glimpse of what the product offers. They get hooked and can pay to unlock the next levels or get full access.
Pay to play and play to win games: After levelling up at an online casino or card gaming portal, players can buy coins or fun chips that allow them to enter paid games, VIP clubs, and tournaments. The play-to-win model allows users that pay an extra amount an advantage over free games as they unlock premium levels.
In-game ads: Unwanted and interruptive advertising can annoy the users to no end, but in-game ads aren’t distracting. Suganthi, Project Manager of Lucky Raja said, “This advertising model is a win-win situation for both the hosting platform and the players as users receive extra chips to purchase an entry to tourneys or buy items.”
Mobile-first experiences: Internet penetration, affordable data, convenience, and low-cost smartphones are the reasons why most users prefer portable devices for gaming. Considering how huge the global market is for e-sports gaming, developers now focus on making mobile casino apps with technological advancements and tools like AR and VR.
Cloud technology: Cloud gaming for multiple players is a wise alternative for users with limited storage on their devices. The use of Artificial Intelligence or AI is available on almost all top platforms.
Indigenous games: After the ban of PUBG, PM Narendra Modi called for skilled developers to create games promoting Indian culture. With the Indian government facilitating the gaming industry and inviting FDI inflows, especially in the fantasy-sports segment, the sector could provide employment to a considerable talent pool.
On one hand, the advantages seem to be endless, but there are also some obstacles that our Indian gaming sector should overcome.
Suganthi, Project Manager of LuckyRaja opines that there are primarily three types of barriers:
1. Health risks
2. Psychological risks
3. Online threats
There aren’t many chances for people to move around in the current pandemic scenario, and hence, look to video games and other entertainment opportunities on the web. While this new way of life is going to continue in the future, gamers can suffer from lifestyle diseases arising out of poor diet, prolonged hours of sitting, and no exercise.
Major points of contention are injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and lower back pain. But these health risks are not specific to gamers, even people that hold desk jobs and those working in front of computers are susceptible.
Some users may get addicted and develop gaming disorders with irrational online behaviours. Such gamers prioritise playing over everything else in their life, such as family, work, studies, etc.
Negative consequences may arise due to the continuation or escalation of their gaming patterns. Recent incidents like the Punjab teen who spent lakhs of their parents’ emergency savings and his educational funds on playing PUBG can serve as examples.
Cyber-bullying, data theft, phishing, and scamming, are a few types of online threats users may face. Some sketchy sites may lure their customers into making micro-transactions or pay for expensive in-game upgrades.
Trash-talking, sledging, etc., which is seen in sports, is also found on fantasy sites - it may lead to bullying or stalking. Most sites allow users to report such incidents or block the said parties without leaving the gaming interface itself.
While it is up to the players to find legit casinos or gaming platforms, developers and operators can use fair gameplay protocols, responsible gambling practices, and enhanced security measures to help players control their urges.
For instance, many sites now feature smart play options or similar that prevents users from making unnecessary errors and losing money. Top-rated gaming sites have deposit and wagering limits for paying customers and add extra layers of security like two-tier authentication codes.
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