The Surge in Gaming Apps During Global Shutdown
Ever since the pandemic crisis erupted, leading to lockdowns around one-third of the world, people are staying indoors and forcing themselves the practice of social distancing. Without cinemas, gig-entertainment, and sports - all closed - individuals are turning to their mobiles and tablets, televisions and personal computers to seek entertainment. This is substantially turning into a boon for increased mobile app downloads and usage, particularly the gaming apps.
According to GoodFirms' pre-COVID19 mobile app download and usage report, gaming apps have been popular among nearly half of the people. While Sensor Tower found that recently, in Feb 2020, the mobile gaming app downloads witnessed a spike with downloads increasing by 39%, in which China contributed the maximum. The global gaming app downloads touched 4 billion, up from 2.9 billion a year earlier. Asia added 1.6 billion downloads and saw a jump of 46% in the region compounded due to the crisis.
Downloads Surged as People Remain Indoors
Empty arenas, stadiums, and changing consumer habits are telling a side of a story where the public has not much to do but to stay indoors and identify means to engage. With the major, mainstream sporting events as well as activities coming to an abrupt halt, many people are shifting to video streaming and online gaming. People are spending substantial time and money on subscription-based models such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and others to fulfill their entertainment requirements. Similar to this trend in place, the games and application downloads have surged. As per App Annie’s Global Market Index data, in Q1 2020, mobile application users spent a record of $23.4 billion on mobile apps and downloads.
Gaming applications such as ‘PUBG,’ ‘Lineage 2’- a multiplayer role-playing game, and ‘Honor of Kings’ were amongst the top favorite amongst consumers. Many other multiplayer games such as Battle Royal, Carrom, and Ludo have seen a spike and gaining popularity after the lockdown. Overall, the gaming apps accounted for 45% downloads on Google Play Store and 35% on the iOS store.
The period has also witnessed strong growth in live and online video game streaming applications. One the world’s biggest game streaming platform, Twitch saw its user-base and usage statistics grow by up to almost 33% in March. This trend clearly shows that not only gaming app downloads are surging, but it is also contributing to the usage of game streaming applications.
The gaming industry hasn’t proved invulnerable to the pandemic. Many gaming events, competitions, and technology events, including Electronic Entertainment Expo, A.K.A E3, witnessed cancellations or postponed to an indefinite time. Yet, the gaming community is still surviving in the lockdown. The opportunity to combine gaming content with the internet is moving the industry during these times. Many companies are taking several initiatives not only to endorse their apps but also to drive the community through various programs and global campaigns.
One such campaign is run by the WHO (World Health Organization) in collaboration with various top-brands and gaming companies - including Riot Games, Activision Blizzard, and Unity, which is to encourage gamers to combat the COVID-19 crisis. The popular hashtag #PlayApartTogether is an initiative of the movement. The promotional campaign is inspiring millions of players, from the gaming community across the globe, to maintain distance and enjoy games, while receiving rewards in their ways.
With millions of people stuck indoors due to the fear of the COVID19 pandemic, the gaming companies are finding ways to convert this into some kind of relaxation opportunity as people turn towards gaming. While looking at a bigger picture, the vendors are trying to incorporate their offerings and adapting to the current view despite the decline in development activities, product purchase, and launch events.
Fnatic and Loco teamed up to host a PUBG charity event - #GamingForFood - for the Indian esports community. The event is an initiative to help the COVID19 affected people along with some big-brands joining the bandwagon such as OnePlus and BookMyShow supporting the tournament.
Underlying Opportunity for Gaming Companies
The quarantine environment has brought in an opportunity for gaming companies and start-ups. While everyone’s locked up in their cribs, the gaming companies are looking forward to developing and bringing products to fill the gaps that their competitors have left in the market. Looking at a growing opportunity in India, giants such as Alibaba, Tencent, and Softbank are investing and pouring in millions of dollars in the booming gaming market. The companies are targeting gaming applications which are running on the gambling platforms. It is estimated that about 300 million users are using such gaming applications to gamble, which is expected to double soon by the end of this year.
Amid Covid-19 crisis, while online streaming, video, and entertainment applications are becoming popular, gaming is becoming a cash cow for businesses, making them derive benefits from both microtransactions and product sales to earn profits. For instance, launched last year, Paytm First Games - the gaming platform by Indian e-commerce payment provider has seen a surge in their user base during the lockdown. The platform has games such as - Ludo, Teen Patti, Rummy, Cricket, and more in their stable. The platform enables users to play multiplayer games in real-time with wallet enabled transactions and run contests involving wallet cash.
The adoption of mobile phones, faster internet connection, and a vast Indian user-base is another trend driving the opportunity for the gaming industry to reap benefits. Specific to the Indian Media and Entertainment Industry - the FICCI-EY report on the Indian media and entertainment (M&E) sector ‘The era of consumer ART – EY -2020’, valued the Indian media and entertainment (M&E) industry at INR1.82 trillion (US$25.7 billion), with Online gaming as the fastest-growing segment. Online gaming saw a growth of 31% in the previous year, and the trend is continuing in 2020 as well, with more consumers spending time on gaming.
While the current situation is a temporary slow-down, the overall growth trend of gaming applications and industry is projected to increase in the coming years. With an ever-increasing community, the industry is booming, and many start-ups and brands are looking to establish their market presence. With that in mind, future gaming unicorns are looking for companies and partners to support them in their development process and meet specific gaming requirements.
Looking at a bigger picture, at present, in the gaming application market, the game developers can play on the opportunity to invest in development, distribution, and support, while reaping benefits later driven by the users.
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