Abid Hussain Barlaskar

How is India’s game monetisation picture shaping up?

While India is blessed with a very large user base, thanks to the country’s population, gaming companies have struggled to monetise the traffic for years.

We are today at a very special phase in the journey of gaming as a business in India. The Covid months drove the adoption of mobile games (to the 330 million strong gamer population) and game publishers saw growth in multiples of what they were witnessing in the pre-Covid months.

More importantly, the phenomenon has boosted gaming up the priority list of advertisers. As Nazara Technologies, an Indian gaming company, files for an IPO, and game publishers rack up rounds of funding, we ask a very crucial question – are publishers being able to monetise the traffic coming their way? Between the two ends of driving in-app purchases and the ad-driven model, we try to zero in on what’s working best.

As a part of afaqs! Gaming Week, we engaged in conversation with industry leaders - Rohit Sharma (co-founder and CEO of POKKT), Rajendran PR (founder and CEO of Nextwave Multimedia), Dayanidhi MG (co-founder and CEO of nCORE Games), Gaurav Agarwal (co-founder of Gamezop) and Rohonesh Kar, Presales Leader, India Media & Carrier Division, Akamai Technologies.

They have built games like WCC3, FAU-G, and their varying monetisation models from scratch. Ad network POKKT has been facilitating in-game video advertising for publishers globally for many years now. Gamezop enables gaming within non gaming websites across categories. (Full video of the exchange below.)

We also summed up key pointers from the discussion along with time markers to aid the viewing experience:

1. Major surge in gaming audience due to people staying back at home made up for low eCPMs. (2min)

2. It has been a good year for monetisation as more advertisers embraced gaming. Core categories like CPG have increased their spending on gaming along with other new categories. (5min)

3. Non-gaming web publishers are integrating gaming options to drive engagement. The opportunity was to convert non-gamers to casual gamers. (7 min)

4. IAPs (in-app purchase) are increasing. Free gameplay acts as the funnel to drive new users which can convert to IAP. (12min)

5. IAP needs focused planning, conceptualisation and implementation. FAU-G would be IAP based with limited ad options. (15.30 min)

6. Innovation around battle passes and subscriptions by games like Fortnite and PUBG is emerging as a strong model. (17 min)

7. Games have less interstitial inventory today and rewarded video is driving ad revenue. (19 min)

8. Data sets within the large gaming audience brings in more value and larger eCPMs. Games need to be driven through analytics that capture data and allow user segmentation. (20 min)

9. Women gamers are increasing and it is influencing business. (24 min)

10. Game progression affects ad delivery. (26.30 min)

11. Freemium game design works best for Indian gamers. Free users users need good experience before purchasing. (29 min)

12. Paywalls in game progression also makes way for cheaters and security issues. (33.30 min)

13. Game advertising appeals to both advertisers and users for its non intrusive nature. Media agencies playing a key role to educate advertisers. (36 min)

15. It is easier to work with ad networks than running direct campaigns. (38 min)

16. Content has to become engaging before monetisation kicks in. (40 min)

17. Paying users today are mostly from India and are distributed between Tier 1 and 2 cities. (44 min)

18. Ad delivery needs to maintain best practices for industry to thrive. (51 min)

This panel discussion is part of Gaming Week, a webinar series hosted by afaqs!. The week-long conference is powered by Akamai Technologies.