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Why catering to gamers is a ‘call of duty’ for many companies

Rahul Arora, a Chandigarh-based student often spends 5-6 hours a day playing Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Dolta 2. His gear consists of a ₹2.5 lakh custom-built desktop equipped with liquid cooling, 4TB storage and the fastest graphics card available in the market. And yet he’s not a professional gamer.

“I aspire to take up gaming as a full-time career,” said Kapoor, who’s still in class IX but is already earning enough to upgrade his PC with his own money. Gaming companies, PC makers and component manufacturers alike are targeting players like Kapoor to promote their latest and most premium gadgets.

Gamers in India can earn anywhere between a few thousand to several lakhs a month through sponsorships and price money from events that can go into crores, thanks to increased focus on the sector and brands looking to associate with this niche market.

Take for instance, data storage firm Western Digital. While you may not associate storage devices with gaming, for WD, gaming is one of its biggest and most profitable verticals.

Going heavy on storage

“Gaming for us is very exciting. We are participating in every gaming expo possible across India where professional gamers are using our products. We also engage actively with gaming influencers to promote our high-end storage devices,” said Khalid Wani, Director Channel Sales, Western Digital India. Why would gamers require high-end storage?

“Some of the most popular games require over 1GB storage on phones and even higher on PCs. Gamers also often save their game play to check their performance and that too requires a lot of storage. But the biggest reason why gamers invest in high end storage is for better performance. A second of delay in accessing storage can be the reason of your losing the game. Therefore, gamers tend to invest in the most expensive storage possible to get the best performance,” said Wani.

India has already turned into one of the world’s fastest-growing gaming markets, thanks to cheap data and availability of affordable smartphones. With 220 million gamers, India ranks fifth among the world’s top mobile gaming markets with gamers spending an average of 42 minutes per day on mobile games. By 2020, Nasscom data estimates the Indian mobile gaming market to reach 628 million users, contributing to a market worth $1 billion.

But the bigger opportunity lies in PC gaming where gamers end up spending 2-3 times the amount that a regular consumer pays to buy a new device or an accessory.

Take for example HP PCs. While entry level laptops from the Silicon Valley firm starts at around ₹25,000, HP’s entry level gaming device HP Pavilion is available at a starting price of ₹70,000 and its HP Omen 15 and HP Omen X2S are available at ₹1.20 lakh and ₹3.15 lakh, respectively.

“Hardware matters to PC gamers and with local esports tournaments driving greater interest and awareness, we are in a great position to continue this growth. Enthusiast PC gamers refresh their PCs every three years or so – faster than a mainstream consumer. This audience is refreshing as they want to keep pace with technology change and stay competitive,” said Roshni Das, Director – Marketing, Intel India.

Gamers as content creators

Intel sees a growing number of gamers turning into content creators to share their gameplay. “As consumers get access to more affordable and powerful cameras and have powerful PCs to edit that content, they will use streaming platforms to share and monetise their creations and game play,” said Das.

Even archrival AMD is betting big on gaming to expand its market share in India.

“This is the best time for AMD owing to the rapidly increasing appetite for gaming along with the accessibility of faster internet penetration and market availability of affordable PCs, laptops and mobile devices. Our 7 nanometer Ryzen CPUs and Navi based Radeon GPUs are focussed at gamers, along with our gaming laptops from major OEM partners cater to gamers on the move,” said Vinay Sinha, Managing Director, Sales at AMD India. Until a few years ago, India only saw launches of cheaper chips and laptops but gaming has reversed that trend with players seeing India as a big opportunity.

“India is a key mega region for AMD’s growth and our product portfolio is in-sync with our global go-to market strategy, meeting region specific consumer demands. Radeon VII for example is the world’ first gaming GPU based on the 7nm process technology and was launched in India alongside the rest of the globe,” said Sinha.

To capture this demand, HP has set up special Gaming Experience Zones at 100+ HP World stores across India where people can experience gaming devices. “We are witnessing a distinct and growing demand for high-end gaming products that are powerful and have top-notch specifications,” said VickramBedi, Senior Director, Personal Systems, HP India.

“Gaming is one of the fastest growing PC segments in India with some sub-segments growing faster than 100 percent annually.”

Analysts say that gaming in India is at the cusp of a revolution at a time when other segments are seeing a slow growth.

DD Mishra, Sr Director Analyst at Garnter said, “The growth of smartphone, internet penetration and sizeable population is fueling the growth of gaming industry.

The impact of this growth will also result in increase in gaming content and themes, translation services in multiple languages, AI based tools which will support gaming applications, AR/VR capable applications, UI enhancements, digital media and cloud based delivery and also fuel demand for data and devices as it penetrates more.”

He added, “This is an evolving market and given the propensity of Indian consumers, it is promising as well at this point in time.”

Source: The Hindu