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Data Reveals Surging Interest in Real-Money Games in the Last 5 Years

Real-money games have become the primary revenue driver in digital gaming industry in India. Explore the surging interest over the last five years.

Data Reveals Surging Interest in Real-Money Games in the Last 5 Years

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 23 May 2024 8:48 AM GMT

Real-money games have been the largest revenue earner in the digital games industry over the last few years. Even the most conservative estimates observe that real-money games contribute nearly two-thirds of the digital gaming revenue in India. Thus, the likes of online rummy and poker will exceed the funds generated by gaming platforms from in-app purchases and advertising income.

The number of poker and rummy app download also supports these estimates, with billions of downloads every year in India. The nation has a 568 million-strong gaming community, which accounted for 9.5 billion gaming apps in 2023.

The Indian Real-Money Games Industry in Numbers

One out of every four gamers in India is a paying user, and the average revenue per paying user (ARPPU) has increased tenfold in the four years between the financial year 2019 and 2023. The ARPPU in 2019 was $2 while it stands at $19.2 at present. The average weekly hours spent on real-money games in India has increased from 3.3 hours to 4.7 hours.

During the previous year, the number of paying users in India increased by 17%, which is more than 12% growth in the number of total gamers. Not surprisingly, 41% of casual gamers in India have admitted to having graduated to other gaming segments, including real-money games. 23% of these gamers have also confirmed that they have moved from free games to spending funds on the same. In the Lumikai report for the financial year 2023, 48% of survey respondents are found to have spent funds on real-money gaming.

In the financial year 2023, the total gaming revenue in India was $3.1 billion. Real-money gaming contributed $2 billion, with in-app purchases and ads accounting for the rest. The gaming industry in India is expected to reach $7.5 billion by FY26. While other revenue streams in gaming are expected to play catch-up, the significance of real-money games in the gaming industry is set to continue.

The Growth of Gaming Across the World

The galloping growth pace of real-money games like Online Rummy, and gaming in general, in India is unmatched globally. However, all key markets in the world are witnessing growth in gaming to varying degrees. Commercial gaming revenue in the USA saw a 10% growth in 2023, marking the third straight year of record-high revenues. The Southeast Asian market garnered $5.8 billion in gaming revenue in 2023, which is expected to cross $7.2 billion by 2027. Even China, where gaming revenue saw a degrowth in 2022, generated nearly 14% growth in revenue in 2023.

The real-money games market in the world was close to $15 billion in 2022. Between 2023 and 2029, it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.12% and reach close to $33 billion.

Real-Money Games to Remain Relevant

The tax burden on gaming is expected to impact gaming companies in India in the short term, but the government has nullified it to a great extent with several favourable initiatives. It has made a clear distinction between games with non-fund and fund-based outcomes. The judiciary has been clear in its distinction between skill and non-skill games, which is a decisive push for the growth of real-money games.

The improvements in data infrastructure in India will further fuel the growth of gaming. The per capita data consumption in India has increased from 15GB in calendar year 2021 to 30GB in 2023. This is expected to nearly double again by 2028. Data cost in India is among the lowest in the world; India’s cost of $0.17 per GB is in sharp contrast to the USA, for instance, where one GB of data costs $5.62. Data speed in India has also sharply increased, with India’s rank rising from 117th in the world to 47th. The 20 million 5G users in India in 2023 are expected to swell to 670 million by 2028.

The influence of technological advancements and their adoption in the gaming industry will also be a massive factor in its growth. Augmented reality/virtual reality capabilities are offering a more immersive gaming experience to gamers, while cloud gaming is making gaming effortless. Real-money games will benefit from the adoption of blockchain technology, which will add a transparent and borderless payment experience for gamers.

Feeling the Surge in Interest

Apart from the strong growth estimates of real-money games, there is no shortage of factors that indicate that the future is bright for the segment in the long run. The strong growth in ARPPU indicates that real-money games are not entirely dependent on the number of poker and rummy app downloads. Higher spending propensity and better infrastructure can make real-money gaming platforms like Playship a popular choice among gamers.

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