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Young Indians may be gaming more than they were before COVID-19 came along, but most are only playing to kill time not to become pro gamers.

Esports was already on its way up when the pandemic came along. Still, COVID-19 and the lockdowns and social distancing that came with it, have pushed gaming and esports to the top of the favourite pastimes for Indians.

According to KPMG, the Indian online gaming market is projected to grow to US$ one billion in 2021. Does that mean that Indians will slowly choose to go pro in esports?

Are more pro gamers emerging from a pastime that Indian youngsters are embracing in a pandemic ridden landscape? Sadly, the answer is no

A group called Viral Fission, a youth community platform that caters to understanding the pulse of the GenZ and their take on various data points for brands, conducted an extensive survey on the Change in the gaming patterns during the pandemic. The study only chose to understand gaming preferences of the youth of India, the popular games played by GenZ, and behaviorial changes around gaming and gaming patterns.

The survey, which included a sample size of more than 2,100 17–24-year-old students across India in Tier 1, 2, and 3 cities, found that India´s youth believe gaming helps in relaxation. At the same time, it challenges the mind, and they enjoy the game graphics.

Does that mean India is going pro at gaming? Are more pro gamers emerging from a pastime that Indian youngsters are embracing in a pandemic ridden landscape?

Sadly, the answer is no. When it comes to esports, familiarity in India is low. 85% of the online gaming in India is taking place on mobile devices, not the top choice for pro gamers.

The Rise of Mobile Gaming

Mobile gaming has trumped PCs and console gaming with the advent of smart phones. In addition, almost 20% of the users pay for playing fantasy games. This makes mobile one of the most popular devices for gaming with almost 85% gamers using it.

Gaming is still just a pastime and not a serious occupation yet in India

However, this in itself is an indication that gaming is still just a pastime and not a serious occupation yet in India.

The study also discovered that a majority of people aren’t okay to spend so much on gaming, showing more interest in free-to-user games. Yet, some youngsters are spending on additional gaming purchases like headphones and joysticks, with an average 14% spending more than INR 500 a year on in-game purchases.

Hot Games Right Now

The most popular game in India right now is Among Us, with 60.5% of those surveyed choosing it the most in a list of options. Clash of Clans was second at 21.2% and FIFA was third at 19.2%. The once beloved Fortnite is at fourth number with only 9.6% choosing it, while the controversial PUBG is at the bottom with only 0.3% choosing it.

Only 10% of respondents agreed to have participated in PUBG and Call of Duty tournaments, indicating that not many youngsters are competing at professional levels

Board games, arcade, Battle Royale, and strategy remain popular genres, which is what is spiking up gaming in Among Us, Call of duty, Clash of Clans, FIFA, Valorant, GTA, and Mortal Kombat. The appeal of these games lies in their easy accessibility and user-friendly interface.

However, only 10% of respondents agreed to have participated in PUBG and Call of Duty tournaments, indicating that not many youngsters are competing at professional levels.

Rise of Online Streaming

With online streaming becoming one of the hottest trends now, more than half of the population surveyed (52%) chose YouTube as the preferred platform for game tutorials and online streams. Facebook and Twitch came next. Others like Instagib TV and Caffeine also made the list.

When it came to being active members of gaming communities and forums on the same platform, more than 30% preferred Discord, with Facebook, Telegram, and YouTube, coming in after

YouTube being the platform with the highest users in the world, the general public clearly prefers to use the platform for gaming tutorials, where they also follow their favourite YouTubers like PewdiePie (Felix), Mortal (Naman Mathur), and Carry Minati (Ajay Negar), etc.

However, when it came to being active members of gaming communities and forums on the same platform, more than 30% preferred Discord, with Facebook, Telegram, and YouTube, coming in after.

Time Spent

It will please Indian parents to know that more than 30% of the population surveyed admitted to spending one to three hours per week on gaming, while more than 50% admitted to spending up to ten hours a week.

Only a 3% were found to be heavy gamers, spending more than 25 hours a week on gaming. This last percentage is most likely to be part of the pro group.

Surprisingly, women were more likely to spend time gaming online as compared to men

Surprisingly, women were more likely to spend time gaming online as compared to men.

The study shows 10% of the survey participants agreed to have participated in tournaments either to compete or for monetary purposes, again a number too low to be taken seriously.

No Pros Yet

Without a doubt, gaming is becoming a passion amongst Gen Z, and platforms like YouTube and Discord have helped many young gamers to generate a second income through these platforms. Several headphone and joystick producing companies have also benefited from the same.

The Indian gaming population has a long way to go when it comes to going pro, since casual and amateur gamers make up 80% of the population, while expert and professional gamers only 20%

Still, the Indian gaming population has a long way to go when it comes to going pro, since casual and amateur gamers make up 80% of the population, while expert and professional gamers only 20%. This indicates that people are playing games to kill time or because certain games have caught their attention, and they don’t want to stop playing.

While India has produced some noteworthy players like Ankit Panth, Saransh Jain, Krish Gupta, and Amit Malwal, youngsters in India aren’t considering gaming as a serious career yet.

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