A first-of-its-kind study on online gamers in India has revealed the growing trend of gaming emerging as a career option in India and not just being limited to a means of entertainment. Based on the study, 83% of the respondents consider gaming as either a primary or secondary source of income, highlighting the paradigm shift towards gaming being a viable option that can be pursued professionally. Out of this, 39% consider gaming as a primary source and 44% as a secondary source of income. The study also highlights how gamers have been able to garner better earnings with improved skill sets, and practicing gaming has also encouraged them to take it up as a profession. This new gaming segment, Paid Competitive gaming (PCG), is poised to be one of the fastest-growing segments and is set to reach $16B by 2024, according to a recent report by Newzoo and MPL.
Another key insight revealed by the study shows how the popular mobile games played by Indians range across Puzzle, board games and adventure sports as the top choices across demographics and levels of engagement. While AAA games are the preferred choice for gamers aged 16-25, seasoned players gravitate towards Poker, Rummy, Carrom and Puzzles.
The study also delves deep into the attitude and preferences of gamers in India and shares important data on required skills, family and social support, professional gaming, and the impact of regulations. The study has been conducted by EPWA in collaboration with the Centre for Justice through Technology (CJT), Vinayaka Mission’s Law School, and Research Foundation-DU Chennai. This qualitative study held in-depth interviews with casual and professional gamers, including online fantasy sports players, and esports professionals, including poker, from across the country.
Contrary to the negative behavioral attributes commonly associated with gaming, the study highlights how the world of online gaming focuses on dedication and commitment. These gamers spend 10-20 hours per week actively engaging in their craft. Interestingly, 77% of those who push the boundaries and achieve maximum gaming hours fall within the age range of 16-25. Success in online gaming also demands a set of essential skills like Analytical skills (97%), concentration (87%), and creativity (69%).
Family and social support prove to be diverse landscapes within the gaming community. While 71% of respondents initially encountered low family support, 17% experienced moderate backing, and only 12% experienced familial encouragement when venturing into online gaming. The study also highlighted how family and social support increases as gamers not only begin to earn from gaming but also display focus and commitment to continue to hone their skills.
Bringing out insights on the earning potential of professional gamers, the study shows how they rely on a diverse array of income sources ranging from Gamer contracts (51%), sponsorships (14%), streaming (5%), content creation (9%), and coaching (21%).
On the impact of regulations on the online gaming landscape, the study showcases concerns raised by the gamers highlighting how 89% feel high tax through GST & TDS has increased their cost of playing and may force them to seek a remedy through alternate platforms if GST is increased further. The criminalisation of players by state governments & absence of uniform regulations has also been reported as a key concern, with 62% of the gamers being affected by the approach taken by many state governments like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Assam. The study further delves into the social aspects and the resultant impact on online gamers. Lack of clarity on games of skill and games of chance has led to misconceptions and social stigma, especially for those who play professionally. 71% of the pool have reported low family support as a result of this.
Finally, the study also highlights the need for a conducive and certain regulatory framework to safeguard user rights and promote responsible gaming, ensuring the sector’s potential is realized.
Suhasini Rao (Centre for Justice Through Technology): “With this study, the CJT & its research team delve into the legislative and regulatory environment of online gaming and esports in India. One of the first looks into the world of online sports and gaming from the player’s perspective, this study aims to provide insightful context for legislative action. As the realm of online gaming and esports expands, it is necessary to listen to all voices in the ecosystem. This study is a depiction of the reality of online gaming and esports from the point of view of those at the very heart of it – that is, gamers themselves“.