The annual cricket extravaganza, IPL, served as the perfect impetus for the popularity of fantasy cricket. And now the world cup is taking it a notch higher. Other skill-based games like Rummy have been consistently growing its user-base across the nation, with a brigade of online players engaging in an exciting game of cards from the comfort of their living rooms, instead of having to visit a casino in Goa. Together, the meteoric rise of these online games augurs glorious prospects for the skill gaming industry in India.
In a skill-based game, the final outcome doesn’t depend on mere chance or luck but is predominantly governed by the skill, adroitness and experience of the players. As part of the burgeoning online gaming landscape, the skill gaming industry presents a handsome opportunity for enthusiasts to monetise their skill while making a career in a field that ignites their passion.
Owing to the ever-changing social norms and the rise of online gaming, the skill gaming industry continues to grow worldwide at 100 percent year-on-year. The USA, the EU, and India are huge markets for the mainstreaming of skill-based games. Popular with the masses, especially the youth of the nation, let’s take a closer look at the future of the skill gaming industry:
VC investments in skill-based gaming
Skill gaming is going to be the next leading destination for VC investments, now that the sector is commanding the same interest and recognition as other verticals. As per Deloitte, while card-based games have grown at CAGR of 67.58 percent in the past three years to rake in total revenue of `730 Cr by 2017-17, fantasy games grew at CAGR 199.69 percent to be worth `67 Cr in 2016-17.
Money typically flows where the users are based, from merely 20 million gamers in 2010, India boosted 250 million gamers in 2018. As the skill gaming industry is presently worth $500 million, investors are certainly going to take notice of the sector. With venture capital flowing in, Indian start-ups would find it easier to upgrade their service offerings, introduce newer formats in the domain while leveraging emerging technologies like AR and VR.
Consolidation in the space
The growth of India’s skill gaming industry signals similar trends observed in other verticals such as e-commerce and travel. In a stark resemblance to its counterparts, a few large players like Junglee Games, Dream11, and Playgames own the majority share in the market. With nearly 300 online gaming start-ups and companies, the sector is now ripe for consolidation in the space through mergers and acquisitions.
The skill gaming industry is also generating interest from several media houses and wallet companies, who had earlier also ventured into the e-commerce space, sensing the right opportunity. However, the skill gaming industry may prove to be a rockier terrain to successfully navigate and hence, we shall see several media houses and wallet companies associating with larger players to ensure smoother and successful expansions.
The skill gaming industry as a key employment avenue
In addition to supporting the ambition of passionate gamers who are turning to skill-based gaming as an alternate career choice, the industry will also attract the top talent in the development and designing disciplines. As gaming companies continue to mature, the top-level talent that would have otherwise knocked at the doors of Amazon or the ilk is now joining gaming companies. The industry has a huge demand for talented PhD data scientists and mature UX designers. Furthermore, several international companies are setting base in India and would require top-notch talent to launch their Indian-centric offerings.
In a nutshell, the market in India is expected to keep up the same momentum for several upcoming years. As the industry matures, self-regulatory bodies like TRF (The Rummy Federation) and IFSG (Indian Federation of Sports Gaming) will have an important role to play in ensuring the integrity of systems, players and operators. I also foresee stronger network effects on the industry; while the gaming industry is already becoming larger than the top-grossing blockbusters across the world, skill-based gaming is also going to be at par, if not larger than the entertainment industry.