By Amit Sharma, Chief Technology Officer at Dream Sports
Online gaming in India has more than 400 gaming companies and 420 million online gamers.* The market is expected to reach USD 4.88 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 20.83% over the period 2021 – 2026.*
A growing user base playing skill-based fantasy sports games has propelled India to become the largest fantasy sports market in the world. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns made people seek new forms of entertainment which accelerated adoption of gaming in India. This resulted in an increase of 50% in mobile app downloads and user engagement for skill-based games going up by 20%*
The industry is riding a wave of tremendous opportunity and technical progress as the pace of growth and scope of innovation remains strong. Some key trends which the next half decade will witness:
AR/VR/AI will help offer customised content for users
Advances in technology have ushered in demand for more immersive, and hyper-real gaming and streaming experiences. Content and viewing are far more immersive and digitally heightened with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR), together with 5G connectivity. Statistical overlays, batting sensors and smart equipment, AI-run chatbots, drones, etc. have brought sports ‘alive’, not only changing the way the game is played, but also viewed. In the near future 100 million fans could wear VR headsets, sit virtually next to their favourite players and watch the match from the dug-out* All this is only possible with technology.
Emerging technologies like AI and Machine Learning will make games intuitive
Artificial intelligence-driven solutions based on machine learning tools offer a personalised gaming experience to the end user. Machine Learning (ML) algorithms can dynamically respond to player actions, provide customised in-game support, offer player predictions or choice of opponents and tune difficulties by charting user behaviour. A lot of companies are investing in data analytics to strengthen these intuitive aspects of game development and interface, and offer unique experiences to users.
Cloud, 5G and blockchain-based technologies enhance experience & reach
Gamers are no longer limited to Tier 1 cities. Wider connectivity, higher speeds enabled by 5G will not only drastically improve multiplayer experiences and cloud-based gaming, but also allow gaming companies to tap new users in Tier 2 and 3 cities. On the back of 5G, the fantasy sports industry can expect a significant boost in user base which has already grown 130% from 2016 to 2021.* However, expensive and high performance gaming infrastructure is not easily accessible. The cloud will make this access a reality. All the processing power needed to play the game is provided by the cloud, while the player simply enjoys a state-of-the-art product on their not-so-powerful device.
NFT and Web3 Gaming revolutionising fan engagement
Content creators are likely to use NFTs to engage directly with fans, given the advent of metaverse, and its potential for all kinds of gaming and related purchases. Popularity for NFT games is on the rise and the trend is expected to continue with easy to earn and quick games made available to the gaming community.
As these megatrends usher in the next phase of growth for the gaming and the media and entertainment industry at large, opportunities are plentiful for companies to garner more market share backed by data insights and talent.
The author of this article is the Chief Technology Officer at Dream Sports