Reliance Jio is driving India’s 4G growth – now, the fastest in the world. However, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited is in huge deficit. Competitors Airtel and Vodafone are accusing that Jio is leading the industry to losses with its ‘predatory pricing’.
Then, who is gaining from these losses to telecom sector in India? It is the Gaming Startups, says a Times of India report.
More people are playing digital cricket or poker or making seemingly impossible leaps at exotic locations. This is made feasible by a data pricing war triggered by Reliance Jio. The number of gamers in India has almost doubled since December last year for several domestic companies like Games2win (Turbo Cricket), Moonfrog Labs (Teen Patti Gold) and Nazara Games (Chhota Bheem Jungle Run), and international ones such as Imangi Studios (Temple Run).
Many of these companies credit the surge to Reliance Jio, which launched in September offering free voice and 4G data connectivity for three months, as well as improved data infrastructure across the country . “We have seen monthly active users go up from 5 million in December to about 12 million in May ,” ToI has quoted Manish Agarwal, chief executive of Mumbai-based Nazara Games as saying. “We have also earned within the first five months of 2017 close to 100% of the revenue we made in all of 2016 for our freemium play.”
“About 52% of Nazara’s gamers in April, May and June came via the Reliance Jio network, while Airtel brought in 10% of its gamers and Idea and Vodafone 7% and 6%, respectively,” Agarwal said.
Mumbai-based Games2win registered a spike in monthly active users to 21million in May from 9 million in December, and Bengaluru-based Moonfrog, to 15 million from 6.5 million over that period. “We have already made more than 100% of last year’s revenue,” said Tanay Tayal, founder of Moonfrog Labs.
Jio’s freebies have sparked price was among rival telecom operators, too. Eventually leading to competitive rates on 4G data connectivity , thus encouraging more people to spend longer hours online on their phones. “The trend of high data usage by Jio subscribers is continuing and consumption is well-distributed across circles,” according to a Reliance Jio statement quoted by ToI. “Jio’s subscribers are embracing digital content including online gaming, cloud storage, education, news and music streaming.” According to San Francisco-based research firm App Annie, India registered a massive increase in games downloaded from Apple’s and Google’s mobile store platforms between January and March.
Total downloads of the top 10 games on the Google Play and Apple’s iOS platforms increased to 24 million during the first quarter of 2017 from 18 million in the fourth quarter of last year. Total time spent surged to 2,120 million hours during the first quarter of 2017 from 1,630 million hours during the fourth quarter of 2016, according to App Annie.
“The share of 2017 revenue (so far) for Octro, Moonfrog, Nazara Games, Play Games24x7, Reliance Games versus their 2016 full-year revenues was over 80%. It’s a certain sign the (Indian gaming) market is maturing,” said a spokesman for App Annie.
For US-based Imangi Studios, the developer of Temple Run 2, one of the most-downloaded games in the country , this surge in online mobile usage has contributed to India being a massive growth market. “We have seen our daily downloads and daily players roughly double between December 2016 and May 2017,” said cofounder Natalia Luckyanova.
Delhi-based Octro, popular for its card games, too, has already crossed its 2016 revenue. It attributed the growth in users and revenue to the availability of cheaper data plans and improved support for online payment options. “We have seen better conversion rates to paying users and more users flowing into the funnel,” says Saurabh Aggarwal, CEO of Octro, declining to share specific numbers. “We are probably 2-2.5 times our monthly active users if we compare May 2017 to December 2016.”
Gaming startups Accel Partners-backed MechMocha and KhelPlay Rummy are seeing several new gamers from smaller cities and towns.