Coronavirus impact: As India quarantines itself, online gaming platforms see a surge

Annapurani V Chennai | Updated on March 20, 2020

As people are self-quarantining themselves at home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, online gaming companies in India seeing an uptick in the number of users on their platforms and a surge in the number of hours Indian users spend gaming online.

WinZO saw a 30 per cent surge in tier-1 traffic over the last week, says Saumya Singh Rathore, co-founder of the vernacular social gaming platform, which hosts multiple games including carrom, cricket, space warrior and bubble shooter. She also added that the number of games played and the time spent on the app by the users grew to “almost 3X, recording an all-time high”.

Uptick in downloads

“We are seeing a significant uptick in downloads of our app and the time spent and engagement in our online games has increased manifold,” says Sudhanshu Gupta, COO, Paytm First Games. “There has been a 2x increase in the number of new users on our platform,” Gupta adds.

Sudhir Kamath, CEO and co-founder of 9stacks, an online poker platform, says that over the past week, there has been about a 10 per cent uptick in the number of concurrent users (that is, users who are logged in and playing at the same time) on their platform.

“Usually evenings/nights are the busiest times for us, but in the last few days we're seeing more people playing during the day as well,” Kamath says.

Adda52, an online poker website, saw the average time spent by a user every day on their platform grow by 18 per cent over the past couple of weeks. The number of daily active users also grew 12 per cent since March 10. MPL (Mobile Premier League), a mobile e-sports platform saw a 400 per cent increase in the number of daily gameplays for the WCC (World Cricket Championship) game, between March 2 and March 18. Another social gaming platform, Hello Play, run by Mech Mocha, a Bengaluru-based company, saw a 15 per cent increase in the time spent per daily active user.

“We are also seeing a rising trend in video/voice chat usage while gaming on Hello Play,” says Arpita Kapoor, CEO and co-founder of Mech Mocha. The company has also launched a virtual mask as a profile frame for users on their platform to increase awareness about the pandemic.

With smartphones becoming affordable by the day and with plentiful access to the internet, the online gaming industry has been growing significantly in India over the past couple of years. Data from Statista, an online statistics portal, shows that there were over 114 million users in the mobile games segment, which is expected to shoot up to 174 million by 2024.

Rising investment

Such a scenario has obviously perked up the interest of investors. Data from Tracxn, a firm that tracks investments and financials of start-ups and private companies, shows that the investments in the sector have been on the rise since 2017 and last year, the sector received a record funding $66.6 million. There are around 391 active companies in this space currently, in India.

To capitalise on the current surge and to keep the users on their platforms engaged, companies are also coming with new features. WinZO, for instance, is allowing its users to engage on the platform for free, for the first time, to make connections through gaming affordable for those in social isolation.

Published on March 20, 2020

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