With smartphone addiction rising and gaming getting increasingly real-like with the infusion of technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality, India’s gaming industry has been booming. The online gaming industry in India is estimated to be worth over $360 Mn at present and is poised to grow to $1 Bn by 2021.
India reportedly accounts for around 13% of the world’s online mobile gaming population and ranks among the top five countries in the world for online and mobile gaming.
When Inc42 caught up with gaming prodigy and GOQii founder Vishal Gondal on 22nd episode of Inc42’s Ask Me Anything (AMA), we asked him about the current state and future of gaming in India.
Gondal believes that unless games made in India or by Indian studios are as good as global games like PUBG or Fortnite, they will not be able to compete in the market.
Gondal has been in the startup ecosystem for more than 20 years and has explored entrepreneurship, angel investing, hustling, being a podcast show host, and more. He started his first venture IndiaGames in the 1990s at the age of 16. After running the company for more than 13 years, he sold Indiagames to leading global entertainment company Walt Disney for $100 Mn.
His current venture, GOQii, is a fitness startup that offers a wearable fitness band paired with remote personalised coaching.
Gondal had some interesting insights and anecdotes to share on the Indian and global gaming industry.
Talking about the gaming industry, Gondal said, “Gaming is one place where there is no language barrier. People are gonna play the best game so whether it is PUBG or whether it is Fortnite or whether it is Clash of Clans because these games are language neutral.”
The only exception, according to Gondal, is if you focus on games that are thematically Indian.
Here, he cited the example of Ludo King, “It is right now on the top of the charts because Ludo is something which was very very Indian, so he was able to get an insight, create a very very high-quality product. Here is an example of somebody not trying to copy a game and reskin it, as we call it, but creating a completely new game which could attract the Indian population.”
Gondal emphasised that there is an opportunity in the industry but consumer expectations are very high.
Revisiting his days at IndiaGames, Gondal shared some of highlights of his gaming venture and said that one of the most memorable experiences was the launch of a ‘Spiderman’ game, after acquiring the license to create the game in 2004.
He also reminisced about his experience of selling IndiaGames to Walt Disney in a cash deal, which brought rich dividends for strategic investors, venture investors, and employees who had stock in the company.
IndiaGames’ 30-40 employees made between INR 25 Lakh to a few crores per year. “The good news is even today India games within Disney is performing very well, I was just talking with the Disney folks, it is one of the divisions which continues to give them revenue and profits so one of the challenges for startups in whenever the acquisition happens, it’s very difficult to integrate, I think the integration went very well and Disney is at a very very good position now,” he added.