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Gaming Is Not Just For India's Young

By Debarghya Sanyal & Aryaman Gupta
June 01, 2023 09:15 IST
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Meet Nilima Kalra, 79, Manju Roy, 80, Sumita Maan, 79, and Gurpreet Kaur, 75.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/

In Sector 77, Noida, in Uttar Pradesh, a group of online gaming enthusiasts has launched a club for local gamers.

"The club meets four days a week for two hours of pure gaming. For our new members, we also offer preliminary tutorials," says Nilima Kalra, one of the four founders.

There is, however, one important requirement for joining this club -- you have to be a woman, and you have to be above 65 years of age.

The four founders certainly meet the requirements. Kalra, who is 79, and her co-founders Manju Roy, 80, Sumita Maan, 79, and Gurpreet Kaur, 75, also help new members gain skills in games like Clash of Clans, Rummy, Battlegrounds Mobile India (popularly known as PubG) and more.

Kalra, Maan, Roy and Kaur began as casual players of the app-based game Ludo King during the COVID-19 lockdowns and have since then scaled up their interest, expertise and, subsequently, their business, across platforms.

"Our membership packages come with features like funding for in-app purchases and gaming headsets. Once we have enough members, we hope to invest in VR headsets as well," Kalra told Business Standard.

"My grandson is an avid player of PubG mobile, and while I was averse to all the shooting and violence in the game at first, I quickly got addicted to it once I had played a game or two," says Roy, the oldest in the group.

Surprising as it may sound, clubs for elderly gamers have become quite common in the country, and gaming is no longer a sport for youngsters. Nor is it confined to the realm of men or limited to weekend trips to the arcade.

"While gamers were traditionally young and male, the Indian gamer's profile has evolved. As much as 40 per cent of gamers today are women, and we are seeing a growth in gamers in the 30 years plus category. Mobile is the dominant platform, preferred by 98 per cent of gamers," says Prashanth Rao, partner, consulting, Deloitte India.

The number of online gamers in the country stands at a massive 421 million as of 2022, and is expected to reach 442 million by the end of this year, according to a recent report by EY-Loco.

A survey conducted by Lumikai, a gaming-focused venture capital firm, said that 98 per cent users prefer mobile devices for their gaming.

"Mobile gaming is accessible and affordable, making it an attractive option for the Indian market," says Yash Pariani, founder and CEO at House Of Gaming -- a gaming technology firm aimed at developing e-sports in India.

The popularity of mobile gaming has ensured that the profile of the Indian gamer is rapidly changing.

"Most Indian gamers are in the 18-30 age bracket, and there is a significant growth in the number of female gamers as well, which is currently close to 40 per cent of overall gamers in the country," explains Malay Shukla, secretary, E-Gaming Federation.

Ranjana Adhikari, partner, IndusLaw, further points out, "Even the male to female ratio of active Internet users in urban India is nearly evenly poised at approximately 57:43 (58:42 in rural areas)."

This has bled into the professional gaming space as well.

Of the 1 million e-sport players in India in 2022, as many as 22 per cent were female. Moreover, women gamers are expected to make up 28 per cent of professional players by the end of this year.

What has aided the growth of e-sports in India is the support from the government and Olympic recognition.

The number of e-sports players across all competitive-level games in India increased from 600,000 in 2021 to 1 million in 2022, and is expected to reach 2.5 million in 2023, according to a report by FICCI-EY.

Diversification is also evident in terms of geographical regions.

Says Varun Mahna, CEO and founder of the Dangal gaming app, "Gaming was mostly concentrated in metropolitan areas until about 4-5 years back, but we have seen a massive shift of the gaming market towards Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in the last couple of years."

Factors like better connectivity, and access to digital payments, he says, have gone a long way in spurring the growth of gaming in the country.

There has been an uptick in the direct monetary investment into gaming as well, almost two-thirds of the 13,000 gamers surveyed in the EY-Loco report were willing to pay for gaming subscriptions, while as many as 57 per cent of them were ready to pay for in-app purchases.

Consequently, transaction-based game revenues increased by 39 per cent year-on-year (YoY) to reach Rs 104 billion in 2022, outpacing casual gaming, which grew 24 per cent YoY during the same period.

Revenues are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20 per cent over the next four years to reach Rs 23,100 crore by 2025.

"We are bullish on more complex AAA games being made in India," says Justin Shriram Keeling, founding general partner, Lumikai, who believes that game development talent is becoming increasingly sophisticated in the country.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

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Debarghya Sanyal & Aryaman Gupta
Source: source