There has been a spurt in interactive and intuitive games that you can play on your mobile or laptop. Just steer clear of the violent stuff
Boxer Vijender Singh says there is nothing better than e-games to keep you entertained, indoors and “safe from Corona”. His personal favourite is rummy online, which he plays “as and when time permits’ and “e-gaming is great as you can play anything anytime”. Is it as good as the real game? No, says Singh. He calls it mostly entertainment, and compares it to watching a good movie that refreshes your mind. But what it does teach are certain tricks and strategies you can use in the real game.
Covid has fuelled an already burgeoning market for online gaming, with home confinement being the new normal. In India, the industry grew at a CAGR of 21 per cent during the lockdown, according to a Deloitte study, with a steadily rising customer base that has crossed 300 million. Globally, during March-April 2020, the spending on games rose by 17 per cent to $10.5 billion.
For all potential gamers thinking about taking up a joypad but not knowing where to start, or which games to try, here is a quick guide.
The first thing you need is internet. Online games, as the name suggests, are procured or accessed digitally, through online channels. They can be played on mobile phones, laptops, personal computers or gaming consoles. In India, mobile phones are the most preferred devices even though experienced gamers tend to shift to larger screens. Professional players invest in a wide set of gaming consoles and spend a lot on audio equipment, gaming laptops, additional external monitors, and so on, while casual gamers play on their mobile phones.
There are different formats in which games can be played, such as single-player (played by only one person), multiplayer (two or more playing simultaneously in same environment) and large multiplayer formats with hundreds of thousands of gamers.
There are several types of games and you can choose your genre depending on your interest. For instance, puzzle games require problem-solving skills, logic, pattern recognition, sequence solving, and word completion, while action games involve physical challenges including hand-eye coordination and reaction time. Then there are sports-based simulations like football and cricket. In strategy games and skill-based games, the outcome is based on your mental skills whereas in chance-based games such as teen patti, the outcome is luck-driven. Adventure games are interactive and story-based, usually played as an individual. Finally, arcade is mostly single-player with short levels, intuitive control schemes and increasing difficulty levels.
How does a user decide which genre he must play? There are several options and one may find it difficult to choose. Says Yash Pariani, CEO, Indian Gaming League (IGL): “When a new user arrives on our platform, he can initially scan through and participate in the free tournaments to understand his interests and genre.” Eighty per cent of IGL’s tournaments are free to enter while the paid tournaments are to ensure a segregation between the pro and casual players. What kind of infrastructure is needed? Says Pariani: “For mobile games, players can use their smart android devices, but for computer or console games, they are required to have the device as well as the subscriptions demanded by Sony/Microsoft to enable online multiplayer gaming.”
For sports games, it may be a good idea to go for practice sessions first. Says Amit Purohit, Founder, Fantasy Akhada: “We always recommend that a fantasy sports player or an aspiring one should first hone his skills in the practice contests and then move on to the paid contests. Our contests start from an entry fee of Re 1 and go on to Rs 5,100. All you need is a mobile phone with a data or a Wi-Fi connection to play.”
Most Indians prefer puzzle, action and adventure games, according to a recent study by KPMG in India and Google. The average Indian gamer is a male below 24 years of age. But many above 60 too have joined the fray. Says Purohit: “Our user base is predominantly male, in the age group of 18-45. However, we have seen retired professionals in 65-70 group also playing very regularly on our platform. In fact, one of our high rollers is a gentleman from Tamil Nadu, retired five years ago, and playing regularly across cricket tournaments. While 85 per cent of our users play for fun and to beat their friends, 15-17 per cent of the users on the platform have “making money” as their motive.”
Make the right choice
There are good, bad and ugly games, so one needs to choose wisely what to play and, more importantly, what not to play. Two years back, Rakshit Tandon, Cyber Security Consultant, Internet and Mobile Association of India, conducted a series of workshops on ‘safe surfing” across India’s leading schools and found that most of the students were playing PUBG. Alerting teachers and parents, Tandon asked every mother one daunting question: “Do you even know the content of the game your child plays for the better part of the day-what is it all about? Murder. Your child is spending hours killing others. Besides, the levels are designed to make you addicted.” He quotes a recent case of a child spending Rs 2.5 lakh from his grandfather’s account without his knowledge.
Another 17-year-old boy in Punjab spent Rs 16 lakh. PUBG has been banned and a major awareness campaign has taken ground among people to avoid games that promote violence and negativity.
A good game is one that sparks creativity. Fourteen-year-old South Delhi-based Ayaan finds games to be “an important part of child’s development process, which enhance hand-eye coordination and introduce new horizons of imagination. I believe in positive gaming and choose the ones with awesome graphics, more sports, less violence and a great storyline, such as Fifa and NBA 2k in sports, and Gran Tourismo in racing. I avoid those full of violence like Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto, as they have adverse effects on player’s brain.” Ayaan spends 60-90 minutes a day and Rs 3,000-4,000 a month on gaming, “even though PS4 was a little expensive”.
Some of the most popular games include Minecraft, Fortnite, Apex legends, Valorant, Among Us. A lot depends on interest. Eleven-year-old Mannat doesn’t normally play games, but is a big Harry Potter fan. So when she found a Potter game, she felt it was “really cool” and played for half an hour everyday for a month.
Teenager Praneel Majumdar loves Apex Legends and Minecraft, and plays games for about 2-3 hours a day. He has not spent more than Rs 1,000 for any in-game purchases, while his classmate Aadi Narayan Prakash ends up spending almost three hours a day on sports-based games and his favourite game is Fifa 19 and 20.
There is a huge fan following for games based on sports such as cricket and football. Take the case of Twelfth Man which was launched in April 2020 and has recorded over 500,000 installs and has touched 100,000 monthly active users. Says Kush Desai, Founder, NxGn Sports Interactive: “The broader audience are all Fantasy Sports users and all potential users who are on the fence with regards to participating on fantasy sports platforms. However, our primary audience is anyone who follows football.” He adds that gaming doesn’t come without benefits and the upside is that you end up learning about the sport you are playing. Says Desai: “This is a game of skill and users can find out as much information as they want about the sport and the teams they follow-how teams are performing, how to remain consistent, recent injuries. If you aren’t up to date about stats, then enjoy the Trivia. Online gaming tends to bring users closer to the sport. Ultimately my aim is to grow the popularity of football in the country, so we welcome not only football fans but also people who want to try out football.”
Demand for e-gaming is increasing in smaller towns and rural areas. For the past few years, audiences have preferred games with localised content that allows for a more immersive experience. Games like Indian Rummy, Teen Patti, Andar Bahar, Poker continue to attract an audience through various online sites.
Poker has been a growing sport over the last few years in India. Says Sudhir Kamath, CEO & Co-founder, 9stacks: “Even during Diwali, when people used to organise Teen Patti earlier, a shift to poker has been seen lately. At 9stacks users can play real money poker even for free, with hourly freeroll poker tournaments, where users can win real money. Entry fee for paid tournaments start from as low as Rs 6 and can go up to 2,000.” Kamath alerts that worrying about money while playing a tournament will never produce good results and may lead to stress which ultimately will hurt your results, so always play with what you can without worrying to lose that amount. Know the money you want to put to risk. Ideally your “poker bankroll” should be about 100 times the buy-in of the tournament you are entering, meaning, if you want to spend a maximum of Rs 1,000 at poker tournaments, then you should start with tournaments of Rs 10 buy in, and build slowly upwards as you start winning.
These games are being picked up in smaller towns. Varun Mahna, CEO & Founder, PokerDangal says that they are seeing a huge rise in users from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Plus a lot of female players have joined in the game.
Even vernacular platforms have come up. The likes of WinZO Games, available in 12+ languages which has all popular games such as Carrom, Cricket, 8 Ball Pool, Sniper 3D, Bubble Shooter, Fruit Samurai, Knife Up, Fantasy League etc.
Most gamers are willing to pay up to Rs 200 per transaction for online gaming and there is no upper limit. They also spend on downloading and upgrading access in the games. Most payments are made through debit cards followed by internet banking.
Says Prashanth Rao, Partner, Deloitte India: “One-time purchase price of game is just one of the aspects, we are seeing new revenue models emerge such as in-app purchases for chargeable expansion packs, exclusive customisable avatars, virtual coin packs, and advanced features. Subscription-based models, such as those of Apple Arcade, Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Plus, Google Play Pass, EA Access, and EA Play, are gaining popularity; players paying a monthly fee in exchange for access to ad-free and exciting game titles.”
Finally, the stereotypical notion of games being “time suckers” and “a point of distraction” is an incorrect one. Games can be sociable and inclusive too, with large supportive communities and some brilliant events. Basically, if you’re happy to watch TV for three hours a day or pursue gossip websites and social media streams, you cannot call video games a waste of time. They teach a lot, often treading the fine line between entertainment and education.
Table: What online games will cost you
|S. No.||Popular E-Games||Genre||Pricing|
|Roll the Ball-Slide Puzzle||Puzzle||$1.04-40.96|
|2.||Cut the Rope 2||Puzzle||$0.82-40.35|
|3.||Unblock Me Free||Puzzle||$0.93-19.82|
|4.||Garena Free Fire: BOOYAH Day||Action||$0.13-118.95|
|5.||Call of Duty: Mobile||Action||$0.13-104.41|
|Sniper 3D: Fun free Online FPS Shooting Game||Action||$0.85-114.98|
|7.||Clash of Clans||Strategy||$1.04-104.41|
|9.||Lords Mobile: Kingdom Wars||Strategy||$0.13-339.66|
|12.||Ice Age Adventures||Adventure||$1.04-104.41|
|8 Ball Pool||Sports||$0.13-89.48|
|17.||Cricbuzz – Live Cricket Scores & News||Sports||$0.66-1.98|
|23.||Snakes and Ladders||Chance-based||$0.26-0.93|
Source: TechSci Research
Pricing refers to in-app purchases per item; $1= Rs 75.66