Sameer Ansari (22) lives in Andheri West and has been playing games, in a manner of speaking, for the past decade. His father introduced him to the intricacies of this form of entertainment. Flash forward to the present and he has turned his passion into a business – renting games and gaming equipment to the diehard members of this community.
Gaming has now arrived as a candidly mainstream entertainment experience and has become the primary source of entertainment for India’s young generation. Last year, 2021, saw the rise of game streaming, and 2022 will see this multiply.
In India, demography is considered as a major contributor in the growth of gaming industry. In recent years, the industry has been advancing from casual to serious gamers. A report by the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) and EY India (a Media and Entertainment industry counselling service), says that, largely driven by young and tech-savvy population, India is now the fifth largest online gaming market globally and online gaming is the fourth largest sub-sector in media and entertainment field. The report states that online gamers are estimated to grow from 360 million in 2020 to 510 million in 2022.
“The market value of India’s gaming industry was around Rs. 90 billion Indian rupees in fiscal year 2020. This value was estimated to go up to over 143 billion rupees by 2022. The industry has been evolving at a rapid pace in the country, and analysts predict over 40 thousand new job opportunities by 2022,” says a report from Statista on ‘Value of the gaming industry in India FY 2007-2022.’
In an interview with businessinsider.in, Roland Landers, CEO of AIGF said, “The Indian gaming industry is expected to reach $ 3 billion by 2025 and is now projected to grow faster than the global online gaming segment. The industry currently employs 40,000 people in direct jobs and by 2024, the online skill gaming industry is expected to employ around 200,000 people. This growth will further lead to revenue generation for the country, driven by ease of payment, better security and instant withdrawal of winnings etc. As the regulatory landscape is also evolving and positive judgments are expected from many states, we as an industry leader look forward to an exciting year for this sunrise sector. With its exponential growth, the gaming industry will also attract international investors to invest in the Indian market.”
Technology and gaming companies have begun investing in India’s gaming industry after seeing its potential. Indian colleges have also begun offering game design and development courses to students, which led to younger generations joining the industry and play their role to uptick the gaming sector. This is a sure sign that gaming as a profession, is here to stay.
The Covid-19 pandemic, when millions around the world were facing months of social isolation, has helped bring new gamers into the hobby. As the pandemic petering out, gaming continues to be a surprising lifeline for a large group. A Google survey showed that 40% of new gamers say that they’re likely to continue playing video games in the future. The year 2021, has been the transition point for video games in India.
“In the global pandemic, the video game industry has grown. This growth has provided a boost in gaming industry and driving the need for new talent. During lockdowns with all the restrictions, people turned to gaming for entertainment and relaxation. Some people who are passionate towards playing video games but can’t afford to buy expensive console were at loss. Hence, rental companies plays an essential part for renting out the consoles to our Indian gamers and helps in boosting the gaming industry,” says Mumbai-based, Rental Vibez founder, Sameer Ansari.
“This interest in gaming, in particular provides laid-back escapism and soothing feelings of safety in turbulent times,” says Rahul Varma, a 28-year-old office going irregular gamer.
In the past, people have either looked at gaming as “crazy”, but now people and companies want to know how to maintain communities digitally. Stakeholders like the brands, investors, authorities and so on, were just sitting on the fence and monitoring. However, with a market of at least 450 million online gamers, the potential of video games and exports cannot be ignored.
Game playing isn’t the only thing that got a big bump. Game-watching, did too. The streaming service team and the rental service team has a good multiplayer game winning history. With college tech-fests too. According to a die-hard gamer from Mumbai, Arbaaz Shaikh, “Being an online streamer, renting is the best opportunity available as the prices of games are high and taxes make them more expensive. I use new games for my videos which I rarely play after a while, so it’s a waste to buy them. I prefer to rent these games.”
“The idea is to make gaming pocket friendly for the gamers. The majority of our customers are from middle class families and buying a PlayStation 5 would cost them Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 70,000 which is unimaginable in some cases. So we, as a renting company offer them one PS5 with a game and a controller at just Rs. 500 for a day on rent and for three days, the rent of a PS costs Rs. 1,300. A ‘week plan’ offer has one PS5 with 2 games and 1 controller for Rs. 2,500. For a month, it costs Rs. 6,300 with an extra game. These are still more affordable for gamers who have been there for years and for the ones who’ve just joined the clan,” says 22-year-old, Juhu-based, founder of Game For Less, Krish Wadhwana.
“What’s better than turning your hobby into a profitable business? And if it’s playing video games, even better, right? I have spent a lot of time playing video games and now I’m using my experience to earn profits. Most of the students cannot afford to invest in high-end gaming consoles, so they choose renting. If you make your business affordable for students, it is going to be highly profitable.” says Ansari from Rental Vibez.
New start-up companies prefer operating from their homes, as the rental services is all about delivering the ordered product to the consumer. Companies with some experience in the market arrange a workspace with few more employees as their next step in their business journey.
“The idea is good and the investment is low. Space doesn’t matter. When there’s high demand for the games, you are always on a profitable note. With video game parlours, you have many restrictions and cannot play overnight if you like and with game stores, you have to buy it for yourself. Here, at GFL, we give gamers the option to rent a PlayStation with a couple of controllers and games. Even a TV if they require one, so that they can create a gaming setup wherever they like.” says Wadhwana.
“After being two years in the market, we’ve encountered many customers and the age group has no limits. Young crowd is usual but we have some customers who fall under 40-60 years old age groups and they prefer renting because they don’t need it to buy and keep it for themselves but the feeling of revisiting the whole childhood nostalgia is what they come for and we are more then happy to serve such clients. Gaming welcomes everyone,” says Rajveer Naidu, a 21-year-old engineering student and the co-founder of Mumbai-Chennai based gaming rental service, GameStation Rent.
“After a lull that followed the years playing GTA (Grand Theft Auto) on televisions, the console gaming revolution is making a return, powdered by next-generation hardware and gamer-centric services. Whether it is on the Switch, PlayStation or PC, there has never been a better time to sit on a couch and press ‘start’ with the controller with youthful enthusiasm,” says a 42-year-old, gamer lover, Ajit Dalal.
Thousands of gamers would agree.