Indian gaming start-ups have managed to raise huge funds as the space saw a huge spike in number of people turning to gaming during pandemic-induced lockdowns. Between January 1 and October 25 this year, gaming start-ups raised $436 million, a steep surge from $208 million during the same period last year, according to data from analytics firm Tracxn.

In September 2021, e-sports and online gaming platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) reportedly raised $150 million in a funding round led by UAE-based investment firm Legatum Capital. The deal valued the Bengaluru-based start-up at $2.3 billion. It has over 85 million users in India, Indonesia and the U.S., noted Tracxn, adding that India had about 689 gaming start-ups as of September 2021.

A recent report by Lumikai and Redseer pointed out that India’s gaming market is set to touch $7 billion in FY26, more than 3x the market in FY21. In-app purchases (IAP) are the fastest growing revenue stream with increasing number of paid users driving the growth. The report highlighted that India is set to get about 235 million paid users in 2025, up from 80 million in 2020. India has about 425 million gamers who play across three broad gaming channels: Mobile-based games, e-sports and streaming, and PC and console games.

“This is an exciting time for the gaming ecosystem in India. Access to gaming has been democratised with increasing participation from Tier-II cities and beyond, gamers are maturing in the way they play different gaming genres and unprecedented growth in new-paying users is driving the overall gaming market to become three times in the next five years,” says Mukesh Kumar, Engagement Manager at RedSeer, adding that, “while real-money gaming will continue to dominate the market, in-app purchases, virtual gifting…to become mainstream spend categories among paid gamers. Also, the revenue from IAP is expected to outgrow overall India’s gaming market growth rate.”

Mumbai-based Dream11 is India’s first gaming company to become a unicorn, a privately-held company valued at $1 billion or more. Dream11 has built a name for itself in fantasy gaming. The brand, which comes under Dream Sports, was founded in 2008. Dream11 has over 110 million users.

The recent spike in growth has come due to Covid-19 lockdowns. The Lumikai and Redseer report pointed out that all gaming segments saw growth in downloads during the first lockdown period last year.; social games saw the strongest growth as friends and family took to social gaming. Interestingly, gaming time spent was four times the time spent on OTT video platforms during the lockdown, it added.

“As gaming penetration increases beyond metro cities and towards mid-to low-income individuals, preference for games with India-first content us increasing due to its relevance and familiarity,” says the report.

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