Gaming companies leveraging growth of mobile games as they become preferred source of entertainment for Indians

An 11-month old mobile sports gaming platform, Mobile Premier League (MPL), has expanded its game portfolio to as many as 30-odd games. This comes as no surprise because the mobile gaming market in India is taking off very well.

In fact, India now is among the top five biggest mobile gaming markets in the world.

The market is such that MPL has plans to “build franchises of household games like chess, pool, carrom,” said Sai Srinivas Kiran G, co-founder and CEO of Mobile Premier League.

The platform recently announced the launch of a new tournament called MPL Chess Mahayudh and saw as many as 200,000 entries. While the expectation was for 50,000, the number of people interested in the tournament shows the popularity of mobile gaming in India.

According to a report, people spend more time on mobile games than video streaming apps or television.

Mobile Marketing Association’s ‘Power of Mobile Gaming in India’ report suggests that three out of four gamers in India play mobile games at least twice a day and they mostly play during prime-time slot that is between 8pm to midnight.

In addition, time spent by players in India has increased to over an hour every day on mobile games which is higher than 45 minutes spent on video streaming services.

According to Sai, “accessibility of mobile phones changes the whole game by a considerable number. There are many things on mobile that are screaming for your attention, social media apps, video streaming apps. But mobile gaming takes up a considerable part because unlike video which is one way, gaming is two way and that changes a lot of things especially in India where there are not lot of fun things happening in non-metros.”

The maximum contribution in the online gaming space comes from mobile gaming as over 89 percent of game revenues is generated by mobile games, the report said.

“A very small number of people have PCs and (gaming) consoles. Most will not own a PC and probably everyone will have a mobile phone and that’s why 90-95 percent is mobile gaming.”

Hence, mobile gaming is becoming an interesting proposition for advertisers as these games are popular both in metros and smaller towns and amid males and females as well.

“World over gaming is the largest source of revenues for some of the biggest ad networks, gaming lends itself as a good format of advertising,” said Sai.

And this why even MPL in the longer run is planning to get ads for its free tournaments.

“We currently actively don’t run any ads on our platform but in the longer run we will try to monetise our free tournaments and games.”

But he added that “the key thing is to build a format, build a proposition large enough and we are trying to do the same and these tournaments will eventually garner their own sponsorships and, in the app also we will do ads.”

Although emerging markets like India are expected to drive growth in mobile gaming, people in India are still preferring the freemium category.

Yet, Sai believes that “people are ready to pay but does that change the fact that people prefer free – no,” he said.

He added that the “percentage of people paying is increasing and it is more true in gaming sector because in gaming it is direct affinity to pay- in-app, or for tournaments as there is direct incentive for the customer.”

MPL which currently has over 25 million unique users is betting big on the Indian mobile gaming space and why not after all the number of mobile gamers stand at 200 million and the number is expected to grow to 600 million in the next two-three years.

“There is no other market as big as India in the world in terms of number of users. Southeast Asia, which is at 150 million, is expected to grow to 350-400 million,” Sai had said in an earlier interview to Moneycontrol.