(IANS) “Yeah PUBG wala hai kya?” Asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi during “Pariksha par Charcha 2.0” in January this year to a parent who said her son plays a lot of video games on mobile.

Gaming has grown so dramatically in India that even a grandmother in a remote corner of the country is now likely to know what PUBG is. The reason? Her grandchild must be spending leisure time playing the game on a mobile phone.

Board a train for a long journey and the most common scene you are likely to observe is people playing with their phones – both young and the not so young. And what has made gaming accessible to a large number of people in the country is the penetration of smartphones, which is again driven by the availability of cheap data rates.

“Mobile gaming has given new impetus to the overall digital gaming. One of the impediments in the adoption of digital gaming was the cost of owning a console. Present smartphones are powerful enough to give similar experiences,” Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC, told IANS.

“Smartphone is exactly doing to gaming what it did to photography. Earlier photography was limited to professionals with a handful of hobbyists. Today, almost everyone is a photographer. Similarly, today everyone has become a gamer, be it for fun, leisure or profession,” Kawoosa said.

The popularity of Battle Royale Game specially PUBG and Call of Duty resulted in the amplification of the time and money by gaming companies to develop more attractive games.

And if you thought it is only the boys who are playing the game, you could not be further from the truth.

While it is true that the average online gamer is likely to be a male below 24 years of age, this is soon likely to change. According to a study by KPMG India and Google, India is moving towards improved age and gender parity among online gamers. The majority will continue to play on mobile devices in 2021.

The online gaming industry is expected to gain momentum and reach a market value of $1 billion and approximately 310 million online gamers by 2021, according to the report.

The growth of the market is being driven by the rise in popularity of digital payment methods, affordable new technologies, growth of localized games, among others. The report noted that 90 percent of online gamers use smartphones and tablets.

“Larger screen size in low-cost mobile devices, increased the compatibility of games with mobile screens and mobility factor are key reasons for the popularity of mobile phone gaming in India,” said the report.

According to App Annie, an app ranking, analytics, and market intelligence platform, games accounted for nearly 40 percent of downloads, and over 70 percent of all consumer spend across both iOS and Google Play combined in the third quarter of 2019.

Google Play continued to lead the iOS App Store in downloads by 175 percent and as in previous quarters, the markets of India, Brazil and the US had the most game downloads for Google Play, according to the report.

During the same period, India, Russia, and Egypt had the highest growth of absolute downloads. Among game genres worldwide, Simulation, Casual and Action Games drove most of the download growth on Google Play, App Annie said in a blog post.

Simulation games (e.g. On Pipe, Battle Disc) had a particularly strong growth of 65 percent year over year. There are also a number of games being classified within the “comics” category such as Gun Strike: Shooting Games.

The US, China, and Japan were the largest markets for iOS downloads in Q3 2019.

Consumers spent 10 percent more on games in Q3 2019 than one year prior, with consumer spending on iOS growing slightly faster than on Google Play, said the report.

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