Fuelled by growing smartphone penetration and the evolving mobile payment infrastructure landscape, the Indian mobile gaming industry, currently estimated at $200 million, is all set to breach the billion-dollar mark to reach $3 billion by 2019, says a study conducted by Reliance Games and Zapak.com.

Titled ‘Unveiling the New Era of Gaming in India” the study combines over a million gaming sessions and over 5,000 smartphone gamers.

It reveals that Indian mobile gamers spend an average of 9.09 minutes per gaming session and 35 per cent of the gamers on the web and mobile are women.

Maharashtra accounts for 19 per cent of new gamers in India, followed by Delhi with 16 per cent, and Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana at 9 per cent each. Of the top 10 cities with the most engaged gamers, Bengaluru emerged on top with the average session duration at 6 minutes and 87 seconds.

Rising popularity “Mobile gaming has taken off in India with 2.5 billion game downloads over the last 12 months. Of the 20 apps that are downloaded by smartphone users within the first month of purchase, five are games. And the most popular genres in India are Casual, Racing, and Cricket games,” Amit Khanduja, CEO of Reliance Games, who is in Bengaluru to host the second edition of the company’s international mobile gaming conference – Pocket Gamer Connects, told BusinessLine .

The average gamer plays on low-end smartphones with 1GB of RAM and internal storage of 8GB. With new smartphone releases in the future, users are expected to shift to devices with 2GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage, added Khanduja. The country is home to 100 million active mobile gamers, 63 per cent of whom are under the age of 25, a number that is expected to cross 500 million by 2019. As a consequence, the number of gaming start-ups has mushroomed from 40 about four years ago to over 250 companies today, many of which have teams of less than 10 people each.

Monetisation ‘Stating that India presents a green field opportunity for game developers to build the next billion dollar game from India, Khanduja said, “The biggest shift in mindset of the Indian developer has to be from download-centric to engagement-centric. Designing games with retention and engagement is the path to success, as one has to think beyond downloads to develop consumer loyalty and grow thriving communities of players.”

Asked about monetisation of the games which are mostly free to download, he said monetisation happens largely from advertising revenue and in-app purchases.