The market value of the online gaming industry of India grew by about 43 per cent in FY20 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Fantasy sports also saw a surge in popularity.

COVID-19 pandemic a boon for the gaming industry?

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a number of business sectors in distress in India. However, the online gaming market has witnessed unprecedented success during this time.

As the lockdown and travel restrictions forced citizens to stay indoors, activities that required large gatherings and going outdoors took a hit.

This is when gaming emerged as the primary source of recreation.

“Options such as live concerts, movie theatres and watching sports live in stadiums – all got excluded from the set of possible choices,” Yash Pariani, founder and CEO of Indian Gaming League told Animation Express.

“Gaming provided a constructive outlet to people and supported creation and consumption in the new normal, thus gaining traction compared to other entertainment options.”

The result was a flurry of product innovations, launches, partnerships and investments in the gaming market.

The technological advancements, coupled with the ease of digital payments in the country, acted as a catalyst for the industry.

From casual games like ludo, carrom and chess to skill-intensive shooter games such as Free Fire, Fortnite and Call of Duty have now become common in every household.

Real-money games, including fantasy sports, poker, rummy and teen patti have also witnessed a surge in popularity.

As per the consumer data company Statista, the gaming industry in Indian before the pandemic was worth INR 6,300 crore. It ballooned to INR 9,000 in FY20 and is slated to grow by over 200 per cent to INR 14,300 crore in the next year.

Fantasy sports continue to rise

Even in the fantasy gaming space, the leading platforms continue to grow their market cap, with firms confirming new investments from venture capitalists and private equity funds.

Dream11 and Mobile Premier League (MPL) - two of the leading fantasy gaming companies of India - raised new capital in different rounds of funding during the pandemic, reaching a combined market valuation of over USD five billion.

Dream11 also became the title sponsor of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 season, giving a massive boost to the industry.

According to a report published by the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) and KPMG, the gross revenue of fantasy sports operators more than doubled from INR 920 crore in FY19 to INR 2,400 crore in FY20.

And as the older players expanded, several new companies also launched their games to meet the growing demand for fantasy gaming in India.

With India still fighting COVID-19 and travel restrictions being placed again, online gaming companies can gear up for greater business opportunities in the near future.