Dec 9, 2008

Business - India;Gaming growth strong despite slowdown

The Rs 200-crore gaming industry is bullish about growth prospects even in the midst of an economic slowdown as this is the stickiest form of entertainment, opine industry players.

"Recession is going to be good for the gaming industry, as people across all age groups download and play games as a form of entertainment. They prefer this more when they have to cut down expenses on watching movies or travelling," said Alok Kejriwal, CEO and founder, Games2win.

In India, school and college going youth in the age group of 17-25 are key drivers of this segment. The gaming industry, which is growing at the rate of 25-30%, is projected to touch $200 million by 2011 (as per Nasscom estimates in 2007).

Keeping pace with the changing scenario, gaming companies are launching games on suicides related to the stock market slump, apart from ones on forthcoming Bollywood movies and cricket, among other things.

Games related to Bollywood contribute just 5% of the total revenue of the Indian gaming industry. Gaming companies witness more downloads on action and car racing games. Globally, the gaming business is worth $40 million and revenues are expected to reach $60 million by 2010, say experts. 40% of online gamers are women.

On the impact of the slowdown on gaming, Rohit Sharma, COO of Zapak Digital Entertainment, said, "The gaming Industry worldwide is recession proof. As far as Zapak is concerned, customer acquisition on the portal has not been affected. The average revenue per user from our gamers in Zapak Gameplexes has increased, as have our advertising revenues. All our businesses are doing well. We have recently launched in order to acquire a global footprint. All in all, there is a lot to look forward to and we are not slowing down." He refused to reveal specifics on numbers.

Gaming companies believe that gaming has always been the stickiest form of entertainment. People might cut down on going for movies or cafes, but not gaming. There are communities and virtual worlds formed by gamers and it is very difficult for them to let go of the same, believe gaming companies.

According to an Internet and Mobile Association of India report, in India, most gamers play casual games. But unlike in developed gaming markets, the casual games market in India is a youth-driven segment, mainly by males in the 17-28 years age group.

Currently, casual gamers lead the gaming industry in the country, while the community of hardcore gamers (those gaming for more than 4-6 hours a week) is limited to a mere 2-3% of total gamers.

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