New Delhi: “Freefire khelna hai ya PUBG? (Do you want to play Freefire or PUBG?),” a security guard asked his colleague at a bank near Bluestack’s office. Bluestacks CEO Rosen Sharma, who overheard the conversation between the two security guards, told Zee News English that he had visited the bank for the past 20 years and always watched them play cards to kill boredom. But the times have changed. India’s digital revolution, fueled by cheaper bandwidth, affordable smartphones and access to high-speed internet, has indeed provided a much-needed boost for mobile gaming.
In layman’s terms, PUBG Mobile and Garena Free Fire are two of the most popular free-to-play battle royale games in India. Both have tens of millions of users who tirelessly enjoy playing them for hours. (ALSO READ: Swiggy Moonlighting Policy: Company Allows Employees to Collaborate with Other Companies to Make More Money)
Sharma recounted another incident of this nature, saying that he saw two people playing Ludo King, another popular game that has successfully attracted millions of people on their smartphones near Charminar in Hyderabad. Sharma called the rise of mobile gamers in India a “grassroots evolution”. (ALSO READ: Microfinance borrower resilience behind post-COVID MFI industry turnaround: Muthoot Microfin CEO)
Indeed, the number of online gamers in India is increasing rapidly. According to a March 21 report by EY and FICCI, the online gambling market in India grew by 28% in terms of annual revenue, from about $1 billion in 2020 to $1.25 billion in 2021, the report estimates fast growth for the gaming segment in 2022 too.
Real money rise and rise, action games
Bluestacks CEO Sharma said that real money gambling is growing in popularity in India. But that didn’t happen overnight. Mobile-friendly real-money gaming platforms like Dream11, RummyCircle, MPL, Winzo, and Junglee Rummy, among others, have spent millions of dollars on advertising and marketing campaigns to entice players into creating an addiction to win money in high-risk games.
According to Lumikai and Redseer’s India Gaming Report 2021, 80 million people paid players in 2020, with real money gaming still accounting for the majority of market revenue.
The report predicts that in-app spending for casual and hyper-casual gaming is expected to grow 30 to 40 percent over the next five years due to an increase in paying customers. Rightly so, especially with the way battleground games like PUBG Mobile India and Garena Free Fire are gaining traction.
Impressed by the growing popularity of online gambling in India and the ever-increasing purchasing power of Indians, Sharma envisions India becoming one of the top five gambling countries in the world in the years to come.
Ready for Player One: Cloud Gaming
The mobile gaming industry is changing at a rapid pace. Gone are the days when you had to make room for heavy games and delete non-essential apps, photos, and other files.
Gamers are now simply embracing cloud gaming to play games running on sophisticated computers anywhere in the world. Affordable internet means you don’t even have to worry about running out of data.
“Mobile cloud is coming,” says Sharma, explaining that most gamers save time and data on downloads by switching to cloud gaming. It’s simple plug-and-play for gamers who don’t really understand the tech behind it, he added.
Globally there are so many options to choose from. For example, Google and Amazon have their own cloud gaming apps. However, most of the services are limited to big screens – not accessible to the mainstream in India.
Bluestacks seems to have a solution to this problem in Bluestacks X, an online cloud gaming platform that allows players to play games on any web browser like Google Chrome and Firefox and on any device like an Android phone, Windows or PC . “Bluestacks is focused on cloud gaming because mass gaming is happening on mobile,” Sharma said.