Numbers don’t lie: Indian consumer app behavior of online gaming

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unexpected event for all, but it’s also an important factor that’s pushed a lot of consumers towards the digital direction—especially in countries like India, which is already moving fast towards becoming a mobile first market.

Indians have new preferred pastime—gaming

India currently has a total of 760 million internet users, according to government statistics. Of this number, an estimated 365 million online gamers play via their mobile phones—putting the country in second place among the largest mobile gaming markets, right behind China.

So why do nearly half of all desi mobile users turn to gaming and gambling now? An ENV Media report, which analyses different surveys and research papers on India’s mobile gaming market, highlights two major factors: consumers have rediscovered online gaming amid COVID lockdowns, and better internet penetration and hybrid content delivery in the country.

In fact, “almost half of responding gamers play in 10-minute sessions between daily chores or when taking breaks” while the committed gamers commit “up to an hour per single sitting” of play time, according to ENV Media analysts. Per a Nielsen survey, Indians spend an average of 218 minutes playing mobile games on a weekly basis, up from 151 minutes pre-pandemic lockdowns.

“More than half of all players download a new game every week and keep several gaming apps on their phones. Important gambling staples like card games remain at the foundation of such behavior, along with board and puzzle games,” they noted.

App behavior shows Indians’ deep-seated passion for gambling

Sensor Tower data showed that consumer spending on mobile apps has reached $64.9 billion in the first half of 2021, a 24.8 percent increase from the same period last year across both Apple App Store and Google Play store. Mobile gaming spending is also the largest contributor in overall consumer spend, with $44.7 billion remitted in the H1 2021 period alone.

ENV Media analysts characterize India’s largest gaming and gambling audience to be gender neutral “between 25 and 44 years.” Location wise, the urban-to-rural ratio is reported as 44-45, although rural internet users are closing the gap in the past three-four years amid the wide availability of affordable mobile devices and cheap data packages.

SevenJackpots analytics data showed that Maharashtra dominates the online casino gambling scene with 16.47 percent market share, followed by Karnataka with 9.17 percent, and Telangana with 8.38 percent, with Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu completing the Top 5 list.

Given that casual online games with real money gaming component are becoming one of the fastest growing segments in India, these statistics are important not just for the government regulators—who are looking to boost the state coffers—but also for game developers operators, who are looking to tap into India’s rapidly growing gaming and gambling market.

“While gaming is a social pastime, RMG forms and the evolution of monetization take the industry to another level—more direct and beyond advertising dependence,” ENV Media experts concluded. “The rationale for both hardware and software choices is consumer targeting, UX optimization, and market support. Being able to offer a game in a multilingual version goes hand-in-hand with a successful targeting of Tier-2 and Tier-2 cities and regions via affordable and user-friendly devices.”