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HomeThePrint ValueAd InitiativeIn India, rural gaming base could soon surpass urban cities

In India, rural gaming base could soon surpass urban cities

While people in urban areas have access to faster internet, if new facilities are introduced in rural regions, gaming players are likely to grow and may eventually surpass urban gamers.

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For the first time in history, rural India has more internet users than metropolitan regions. As of November 2019, the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) reported that rural India has 227 million active internet users, which is 10 per cent higher than those in urban India, which is around 205 million.

The statistics increased with the availability of the world’s cheapest internet connections. Additionally, about 71 million children aged 5-11 years use family members’ devices to access the internet. India has already achieved another milestone — surpassing 504 million active internet users aged five years or older, which is 53 million more than in March 2019. Internet users who are considered active are individuals who access the internet at least once a month.

In the gaming business, India ascended to the top position in mobile game downloads globally in the first nine months of 2020, recording 7.3 billion installations and capturing a 17 per cent market share of the installed volume.

According to the study, the potential for adding new customers in the hinterland remains “colossal” in the following years. As of November 2019, the top eight metro areas have a 65 per cent internet penetration rate, up from 63 per cent in March 2019.

In March, Indians increased their time spent on cell phones by 24 per cent, 4.3 hours per day, mainly due to the lockdowns. For comparison, the average was 3.5 hours per day in 2019.

The consumers have spent an increasing amount of time during the lockdown on mobile games such as PUBG, other multiplayer games and social media platforms like TikTok and Facebook, in addition to using video-chatting applications such as Zoom for interacting with friends and family, for office work and online assessments.

Currently, the urban population has access to faster internet and more amenities than the rural population.

However, when rural people get access to faster internet, these numbers will rise and be assessed with rural people in mind. It is possible that when new facilities are introduced in rural regions, gaming players will grow and may eventually surpass urban gamers.

Rise in Indian gaming world

Rural mobile users increased year over year, followed by PC and tablet users. Mobile gaming dominates the gaming industry in India, where access to affordable smartphones has grown at a 15 per cent annual rate over the last five years, high-speed 4G internet adoption is widespread and data rates are among the lowest in the world.

Initiatives such as ‘Digital Village’ have improved internet access by bringing high-speed, low-cost internet to rural gamers. Both mobile and PC gamers are rising, compared to the previous year and are growing daily. These characteristics, along with the growth of mobile games, contribute to India’s rural young developing an increasing demand for content.

At its peak, PUBG Mobile was played daily by an estimated 34 million Indians. Indians alone downloaded the battle royale genre game 175 million times. The growth of the gaming business will encourage more players from rural regions to pursue careers in gaming as well.

Additionally, the rural mobile gaming sector is growing rapidly and may eventually surpass urban areas. With the availability of high-speed internet infrastructure, players will concentrate exclusively on the gaming industry.

Impact of Covid-19 on gaming industry

The Covid-19 pandemic altered media and entertainment consumption patterns, with KPMG predicting that traditional sectors such as cinema, television, and print would decline by 20 per cent in 2020. Conversely, they anticipate significant growth in gaming and digital media consumption, with worldwide revenue expected to increase by up to 33 per cent to $25.4 billion in 2021.

The growth in gaming is fuelled by an increasing need for virtual enjoyment with friends, family, peer groups and an increase in influencers pushing Indians to play more games. Moreover, as digital consumption has become more prevalent, the desire for more varied material has increased.

Besides the gaming industry, lottery games are also increasing daily. These games are used to serve specific purposes in each city, such as the Bhutan Lottery. Moreover, lotteries enhance the living standard of the cities.

Many people from rural areas also participate in these lottery games as they provide a chance to improve their financial growth. These lotteries are conducted daily, and their results are updated every day on Lottery Sambad.

Mobile games act as virtual social spaces, meeting customers’ desire for connection during difficult times. Moreover, gaming transcends geographical boundaries, permeating both Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities as well as urban and rural regions.

Measures to support gaming industry

With the growth in gaming, the Indian government is anticipated to get increasingly involved in enabling and regulating the sector.

The Indian government is making significant strides in this area, establishing programmes to boost digital literacy in rural India.

For example, the Indian government launched the ‘Digital India’ project to increase the efficiency of the public sector to transition India into a globally linked society and knowledge-based economy.

The purpose of this programme is to ensure that all citizens of India have access to high-speed internet, payment systems are online or cashless, citizens are digitally literate, digital resources are available in Indian languages and that the public sector or government bodies are digitally active for citizens to submit government documents.

(ThePrint ValueAd Initiative content is a paid for, sponsored article. Journalists of ThePrint are not involved in reporting or writing it.)

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