Through the course of the pandemic, India has seen a strong uptick in gaming. This is driven by the rise of powerful smartphones across price-tiers as well as affordable data costs.

At CyberMedia Research (CMR), the CMR Gaming Practice has been tracking the gaming industry in India, both from a supply side (devices intelligence) as well as demand side (consumer research) perspective.

Undoubtedly, over the course of the pandemic years, with more consumers spending time at home, gaming has seen a rapid traction in India.  

There are three archetypes of Indian gamers that CMR Gaming Practice has identified, based on the time spent on gaming. These include hyper-casual gamers, casual gamers and hardcore gamers.

Interestingly, 48 months after the onset of COVID19, CMR’s most recent gamer survey pointed out to a 40% inflection in hardcore gamers in India. Alongside, there has been a decline in hyper-casual gamers. Game play time has increased, with three in every five gamers spending anywhere between 31 to 120 minutes in a typical play session. On an average, each gamer spends 79 minutes in a typical play session. In comparison to the pre-pandemic phase, there has been a whopping 100% uptick in paid gaming. All of these trends point to a healthy 16% YoY growth in mobile gaming.

Recent research from CMR’s Gaming Practice points to some interesting trends around hardcore gamers. Three in every five gamers play action/adventure games. Hardcore gamers mostly play, or prefer action, and first-person shooter games.

Two in every three hardcore gamers have participated in online gaming contests, with a 10% YoY growth in gamer participation. Hardcore gamers participate, on an average, in eight online gaming contests annually.

Further, four in every nine hardcore gamers have played cloud-based games on their smartphone, with cloud gaming familiarity driven by Sony PlayStation (PS Now), Microsoft Xbox Game Pass and Google Stadia.

Let us look at what the future portends for Cloud gaming, and gaming-as-a-service.

Anytime, Anywhere: Towards Seamless Gaming Experiences

For gamers, the ability to play anytime, anywhere, without technical glitches, will be a big step forward. This is a future where gamers are able to stream and enjoy high-quality version of their games.  That’s the potential and promise of cloud gaming. With cloud gaming, gamers will be able to enjoy seamless gaming experiences across devices and environments. Imagine playing on one device, and leaving it, to pick-up another device and continue playing the same game without interruption. That’s the power of Cloud.

With Cloud, gaming experiences will get further democratized. The need for specialized and local processing hardware also come down.  Cloud gaming  will ensure that powerful hardware and incredible software translates into best-in-class visuals and gaming experiences.

Lastly, it is all about instant gratification. Gamers can leverage cloud gaming and play games instantly, without having to download games.

Tailoring Gaming-as-a-Service for different gamer archetypes.

Until now, the gaming experience for consumers was dictated primarily by the stability of their internet connection. As 5G-ready smartphones become more powerful, and 5G rolls-out in the near horizon, the opportunity is there to unlock the benefits of cloud gaming, enhancing the gaming experience, and enabling new value propositions for game developers to cater to different gamer archetypes.

While cloud gaming may seem inevitable in the near horizon, it will require a concentrated push spelling out its benefits to specific gamer archetypes for it to become mainstream.

Let us dive-in further on what it will take.

Take, for instance, hyper-casual gamers. They are mostly avid mobile gamers. For them, cloud gaming will enable instant gratification, ease of convenience, with no download required.

For Casual gamers, it will be a freemium mode that will appeal. This would mean ease of convenience and instant access to newer games, with enhanced streaming quality enticing them to play more.

CMR’s gaming research already points to some maturity around cloud gaming amongst hardcore gamers. Cloud gaming services that offer best-in-class hardware, rich gaming content, and latency will curry favour with them.

The Rise and Rise of Cloud Gaming Ecosystem

The cloud gaming ecosystem includes a few tech majors dominating the landscape. Consider, for instance, Sony. Sony has been a pioneer in cloud gaming with its PlayStation Now service. Similarly, Microsoft debuted xCloud, while Nintendo came with Switch Cloud. Nvidia came with GeForce NOW. Amazon Luna and Google Stadia are some other notable names.

Beyond these tech giants, there are new market entrants, as well as new potential alliances that seem to build on the recent spike in cloud gaming globally.

In the recent past, Netflix has been toying with the idea of launching a new game streaming offerings.

Cloud gaming is a trend that TV manufacturers are responding to.  For instance, LG and Samsung are bringing cloud gaming via GeForce NOW and Stadia onto  some of their latest TV models.

Microsoft, under Satya Nadella and Xbox Boss Phil Spencer, has been focused on bringing cloud gaming streaming capabilities to new device platforms, including smartphones and TVs.

Lastly, earlier this month, Netflix announced Microsoft as their ‘global advertising technology and sales partner’. This news does pique my interest. While am unsure as to Microsoft’s capabilities in bringing innovation to adtech, I do see some synergies in gaming. Netflix is currently struggling with subscriber and revenue growth. It is looking to diversify its bets, and scout for new revenue generation possibilities. Bringing Xbox Game Pass and cloud gaming to Netflix will prove to be beneficial to both partners, over the long-term.

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