The ABCDs of India's mobile market

The ABCDs of India's mobile market

By Joost van Dreunen, SuperData

January 11th 2016 at 11:55AM

SuperData’s Joost van Dreunen offers his advice on breaking into this key emerging market

As growth for mobile games begins to slow in the west, it is accelerating in the east. 

With the money that is flowing into the region, the landscape for interactive entertainment has started to change, allowing game makers to consider markets that were previously unsustainable or inaccessible.

One market that has recently appeared on people’s to-do lists is India.

Why? Well, for one, India’s mobile games market has ample room for growth, as smartphones still make up less than half of mobile phone shipments in the country. 

Most consumers in India currently still use a feature phone but, as prices drop and handset manufacturers seek to cater to large new markets, many are about to upgrade to smartphones. 

As a result, India’s 180.8 million mobile player base is on track to more than double by the end of 2018.

When looking at India in more detail (see the table below), it becomes immediately obvious that there is an absence of a large market for traditional game publishing. 

Considering the size of the country, $29.5 million (£19.8m) in annual revenues for digitally distributed games on PC and $22.9 million (£15.3m) on console is tiny.

Categories that employ a free-to-play approach, like MMOs ($183m/£123m) and social network-based games ($140m/£94m), do considerably better in India. 

But mobile gaming is transforming India into a market of interest for game makers.

With $416 million (£279m) in annual revenues, mobile gaming is India’s largest games market. And the year-on-year increase of over 64 per cent makes India the fastest-growing mobile market in the region.

Early indicators suggest that India’s mobile games market will triple in the next few years, reaching $1.2 billion (£0.8bn) by the end of 2018.

Not surprisingly, well-known game makers like Cut the Rope dev ZeptoLab are forging deals to start publishing in India. This leads us to the question: how to break into the Indian games market? The answer is to follow its ABCDs:

Astrology

Life in India quite literally takes place in alignment with the stars. Whether it comes to naming babies, making business decisions or the organisation of daily life, astrology plays an important part.

Bollywood

Producing roughly four times more movies per year than the US film industry, Bollywood is central to Indian culture. Its unique blend of music and drama, often with a focus on family values, reminds us of the need to make games that are culturally relevant.

Cricket

Sports are popular everywhere, but it is difficult to find a zeal that matches India’s love for cricket. The size of the Indian market has made cricket’s television rights invaluable, and its presence will be pervasive among mobile gaming titles.

Devotion

The practice of worship is very prominent in India. Across its media landscape, devotion has traditionally played a prominent role in literature and dance.

Combined, these four categories provide a powerful content mix with a strong appeal to India mobile gamer audiences. 

But don’t let the marvelous growth rates sucker you into believing that it will be an easy ride. Rather, as the entire mobile games market descends onto India, having a competitive edge based on providing better-localised content will prove key. 

Now that gaming is mainstream and global, that also means the industry will have to make content relevant to different audiences.

That means starting with your ABCDs.