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Mobile Games Find a Home on Smartphones in India

But gamers are a fickle bunch

January 25, 2017

Mobile gaming has quickly earned a spot as a popular pastime for smartphone users in India. In June 2016, mobile analytics firm Tune polled smartphone owners in India and found that 84% of them had a game installed on their device.

Frequency with Which Smartphone Owners in India Download Mobile Games, June 2016 (% of respondents)

Smartphone gamers were also found to be frequent downloaders of games. Tune discovered that 43% of respondents downloaded a new game on a weekly basis, while 16% did so daily. That makes sense, given that smartphone users in India use a large number of apps—research firm App Annie reporting that the average consumer in the country used nearly 40 apps on a monthly basis in 2016.

Tune also found that nearly half (49%) of smartphone users played games for just a few days. This seemingly fickle behavior might be due to smartphone users in India needing to manage the limited storage space offered by their devices. Smartphone users in India have often dealt with such restrictions by an ongoing routine of downloading apps, using them for a short period of time and then deleting them.

But that doesn't mean that mobile games that find a loyal audience can't generate revenue for developers. Tune reported that 34% of smartphone users claimed to have spent money on in-app purchases during game play. The firm also noted that the figure was high and might be due to errors in self-reporting, but added that the sheer size of the Indian market meant that mobile gaming revenues would still be substantial, estimating that they would exceed INR 175 billion ($2.6 billion) by 2019.

Mobile gaming also presents an emerging opportunity for digital advertisers, as more than half of respondents (57%) to Tune's poll said they had previously watched in-game ads in order to access virtual rewards. However, in-game ads are likely to remain constrained by India's undeveloped video ad landscape, which reflects the country's lack of cheap and easily accessible mobile broadband for consumers. But as data speeds increase and prices fall, rich media ad units like video are likely to proliferate within games.

—Rahul Chadha

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