I had just returned from the United States and was back to my Wipro office in Bangalore, India after a span of 15 months. Over the next week something unique caught my eyes. Online gaming fever had caught up with several colleagues of mine. Every few spare minutes of time was being spent on online gaming. Be it the few moments after tea/lunch, the spare minutes while that crucial program was getting compiled or that slow website was opening up, they were all spent on the perpetual gaming window that was always kept open. My mind sub-consciously registered that this was a sea change from plain computer games.
6 months later, Gamasutra has confirmed just that. The Indian online gaming market is expected to top $200 million by 2010. Plain computer gaming was passé. The key to such rapid growth can be attributed to the following factors
1. High growth in Internet penetration in India.
With close to 39 million users Internet users in 2005, a 54% growth from 2004, India could well catapult to second spot by 2007 with respect to the country having largest number of internet users in Asia, just a notch below China.
2. Mushrooming of Internet cafes
A good number of Internet cafes in India thrive just because they have attracted the youth with the games they have offered during the offline hours. The scenario is changing fast with online gaming turning more than a mirage given the broadband speeds available across India that support a whole gamut of games. With close to a million Internet cafes and a burgeoning teenage population, online gaming market is all set to explode in India.
3. Special Online Gaming Technologies
Add to this the special gaming Internet cafes that Internet cafe market leader( Sify owns close to 3100 cyber cafes across India ), Sify www.sify.com is planning to launch across India. Called Sify Gamedromes, these special Internet cafes cater to the special requirements that PCs need to have to play advanced games like MMOG ( Massively Multiplayer Online Games ) where several people distributed across thousands of geographic miles can participate in a single game as team mates or opponents. Sify also launched India's first 3D action game dubbed A3 in Pune this January, 2006. "A3 is the country's first action-packed 3D massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). It offers realistic 3D effects, dynamic environments, loads of players to compete against or make friends with, contests and events- both within the game and outside. Internet users can access and use A3 from home through a broadband connection, or visit Sify’s Gamedromes or iWays for an action-packed experience with friends?" said Shrikant Joshi, president (Access Media), Sify.
4. Mushrooming game sites across Indian Internet-scape that provide Indian gaming content
Ranging from Online Sudoku to film based games popularised by icons like Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan Indian gaming sites like Indiatimes Games, Game Cricket, NetKushi.com , Khel.com, Yahoo India Games, are all wooing gamers to their sites. Even TV shows are not behind with several channels hosting online computer game contests to capture the imagination of young audiences across India.
5. Emergence of Indian Gaming Companies
Next Wave Multimedia, Milestone Interactive Software, Gayatri, Paradox Studios, IndiaGaming and Mobile2Win are but a few of the host of gaming content providers who are slowly but surely carving out space for themselves in this market niche by providing content that the Indian gaming audience harps for. The Phantom, Jurassic Park, The Scorpion King, Spy Kids 3D, Everest Challenge, Rickshaw Rage are a few popular title offered by these vendors. These vendors are also concentrating on the key mobile gaming market too.
With gaming catching on in India, it would be just a matter of time before it would usher in other changes with far reaching consequences.
- High speed internet might evolve faster than predicted.
- Quality games by Indian vendors might just be the start of game development outsourcing to Indian companies
- Huge Gaming Jamborees might come of age in India with thousands of gamers congregating in key cities and playing their hearts out.
- Gaming fad might be the next big money minting venture space in India.