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Mobile gaming set to press the growth button

Mumbai, Nov. 21: India’s gaming industry is betting big on gaming applications for mobiles.

Mobile gaming, which accounts for about 50 per cent of India’s $150-million gaming industry, is growing at a staggering rate of about 300 per cent annually.

According to a recent Nasscom report, the mobile gaming market in India will swell to about $200 million by 2010, registering a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 89 per cent.

“Mobile gaming is likely to generate the highest revenues in Asia Pacific. The number of mobile users is growing by about 2 million every month. Mobile gaming will have about half the share in India’s growth story in gaming, which will be close to $425 million by 2010,” a senior official at Nasscom told The Telegraph.

Most of the gaming development being undertaken in India is on mobile platforms — and that is expected to become even more pronounced as the number of mobile users continues to surge. Sources said this factor would help the Indian gaming industry to achieve a CAGR of about 72 per cent till 2010.

The global mobile gaming industry is worth over $4 billion and India accounts for just 2 per cent of it.

“Downloading games in CDMA-enabled phones is much easier and cost-friendly. We have about 10 million CDMA users who can access game download services. At Reliance, we have seen an annual growth rate of over 300 per cent in mobile gaming and this trend is going to continue,” said an official at Reliance Infocomm.

“We take an access charge of 10 paise per 10 kilobytes of download in Reliance. Subscribers only pay the access charge for downloading most of our mobile games. We offer more than 100 games on mobile at present, in which games such as Power Ranger–II, Bombay To Goa, Harry Potter, Tour de France, Krish, and Superman are the hottest ones,” the Reliance official added.

But even amid these developments, India will account for barely 0.9 per cent of the global gaming industry, which has been estimated to grow to $43 billion by 2010.

The Indian gaming industry is still at a nascent stage. Hardware such as X-Box, Playstation, and Nintendo which enable PC and online gamers to access advanced, heavy, and multi-player games are too expensive for Indians. Moreover, technologies such as 3G for mobiles are yet to come. When 3G is rolled out, game downloads will be faster at a speed of up to 1MB, and the technology has the potential to enable providers to come out with better mobile games.

“Nasscom projections sound a little too optimistic for India; but if that has to happen, mobile and online gaming are the answers,” said Vishal Gondal, founder and CEO of IndiaGames.

According to a Nasscom analysis, console gaming contributes about 28 per cent of revenues, PC gaming chips in with 12 per cent, and online gaming accounts for about 11 per cent of the Indian gaming industry.

India has about 40 million broadband internet users. According to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, the online gaming industry in India is worth about $6 million, which is estimated to become about $59 million by 2010.

Nasscom sources said mobile gaming was performing better than PC gaming because of the penetration levels of the respective platforms. PC gaming is expected to attain a size of about $47 million by 2010. However, the number does not include the figures for pirated software for PCs and consoles.

“We Indians do not consider gaming as seriously as it is taken in other economically sound countries. Almost 98 per cent of PC gaming is dominated by piracy. There are many popular multi-player games in the US, which are yet to be introduced here, said Gondal.

“If the Indian gaming industry has to compete internationally, we need to address five issues: pricing to fight piracy, infrastructure to enhance digital distribution capabilities, acceptance of advanced hardwares for PCs, community of serious gamers, and recognition of gaming as sports,” he added.

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