Growth of gaming in India: How to foster talent, innovation, and investment
The availability of affordable internet and mobile devices has pushed India's gaming sector's exponential growth. From just a mere source of recreation, gaming has become a mainstream industry over the years. Being at the cusp of exponential growth, the gaming sector is expected to grow by 20-30% by fiscal 2023 and reach Rs 380 billion by 2026.
Despite the rapid growth of the gaming industry in India, there are several challenges that the sector is grappling with.
To fully realise the potential of the gaming industry, experts call for a supportive ecosystem that fosters talent, innovation, and investment.
Policy for startups
“Gaming which is part of the audio-visual gaming and animation (AVGC) industry in India, can drive significant economic and cultural growth in the country and beyond. Creating favourable policies that support startups and promote collaborations will be beneficial to aid the entire ecosystem leading to the evolution of the sector,” says Ajay Pratap Singh, CEO, Sportskeeda.
Despite growing significantly over the last few years, the gaming industry is still in the nascent stage and offers significant potential for growth. Taking note of the sunrise sector and making India a global hub of gaming, the government has worked expeditiously to support the growth in the sector.
The government has appointed the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) as the nodal ministry for online gaming, which has released a draft set of rules for the online gaming sector, with an aim to fill the regulatory lacunae.
The Finance Ministry, too, has brought in amendments to the Income Tax Act, 1961 recognising online gaming as a unique technology-driven entertainment sector, highlighting its distinction from games of chance like lotteries, betting and gambling etc. “There continues to be an impending decision on the indirect taxation mechanism for the industry, which is yet to be arrived at, which would be the last major hurdle from a policy perspective for the industry, before it can find solid footing to grow on,” says, Vikrant Goyal, Chief Human Resource Officer, Games24x7, one of the unicorn of the gaming industry.
“Aside from the regulatory challenges which are at various stages of resolution, the online gaming sector still has a long journey ahead in its growth as a mainstream industry. On the one hand, there is huge scope for mainstream adoption as we have seen from the rapid growth in the number of online gamers, which stands at just over half a billion as per 2022 estimates. This needs to be supported with technology infrastructure, which is still being developed, including 5G adoption, internet penetration etc,” adds Goyal.
Challenges of the gaming sector
There are a few challenges before the growing gaming sector that require immediate attention to fully capitalise on its prospects. As the demand grows, there is a burgeoning pipeline of opportunities for skilled talent to fuel growth and innovation.
“With the Government now recognising esports as a profession, I foresee, the demand for high-quality content from Indian studios will see a rise and further cement the position of this industry. However, the shortage of skilled talent, dated infrastructure, and limited access to funding seem like major roadblocks to rapid growth. To tackle this, it is imperative to address these challenges and advocate for the necessary reforms in training and education, modernising of infrastructure, and increasing access to funding. This will help create a more conducive environment for AVCG companies and ensure the industry's sustainable growth for years to come,” explains Singh.
Finding the right talent with a lot of gaming experience is one of the biggest challenges. “Many of our resources have been groomed into their roles and have grown with the company. We have also been able to tap into the broader market, cherry picking high end experienced talent from different verticals as well as created a pipeline through campus hiring initiatives,” says Goyal.
What led to the growth
The pandemic resulted in an unprecedented shift toward digital entertainment, leading to an exponential growth of this segment.
Besides, the implementation of 5G technology and the increasing penetration of network coverage across the country are further fueling the growth of the digital entertainment industry. Additionally, the rise of technologies such as AR, VR, and ML have expanded the use case of gamification and digitalisation in traditional sectors such as education, fintech, and several other industries, paving the way for new opportunities and growth.
It will be essential for organisations to continue to innovate and invest in new technologies to meet the changing demands of consumers to stay relevant. The digital entertainment industry is poised for even greater growth and success in the coming years, and those who remain adaptive will be the ones who reap the rewards.
Jobs in the sector
The online gaming industry referred to as a "sunrise" industry is expected to create 1 lakh jobs by this year. Rapid expansion due to the increase in user base and investment opportunities will result in a plethora of job opportunities, not only for individuals who are passionate about gaming, but also technology, design, marketing and data science.
“With the emergence of rapid digitisation and gamification, technologies such as WEB3, cloud services, fintech, metaverse, and blockchain gaming have opened a new path for creating more valuable and creative job opportunities. Some of the major areas where new jobs are expected to include data science, product design, category marketing, and UI/UX etc,” adds Goyal.
The exponential growth of the AVGC industry has resulted in an increased demand for skilled professionals in the industry. “Academic institutions are taking note of this demand and are beginning to develop support ecosystems to nurture and develop talent for the AVGC industry,” says Akshay Marwah, Co-Founder, AAFT Online, led by the promoters of AAFT University.
According to Marwah, academic institutions are taking note of this demand and are beginning to develop support ecosystems to nurture and develop talent for the AVGC industry.
The gaming sector is reported to employ over 20 lakh people in the next ten years, with the sector also expected to witness a growth rate of 16-17%. “These factors are why experts have called for collaborations in academia, co-production, technology, policy & research. It is predicted that it will not only leverage the existing industry expertise but also help boost domestic capacities and develop the opportunity landscape,” says Marwah.