State of PC Gaming in India: Insights from AFK Gaming's Recent Webinar

Vignesh Raghuram
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>State of PC Gaming in India: Insights from AFK Gaming's Recent Webinar</p></div>
State of PC Gaming in India: Insights from AFK Gaming's Recent Webinar


AFK Gaming

India’s PC gaming industry is striving to gain a foothold in a market overwhelmingly dominated by mobile gamers, as highlighted in a recent webinar hosted by AFK Gaming. Industry experts at the event painted a complex picture of both challenges and opportunities facing the sector.

The webinar featured prominent voices from the gaming community: Shagufta “Xyaa” Iqbal a seasoned gamer and content creator; Vishal Parekh, COO of CyberPower PC India; and Samkit Shah, CEO of Next Level Gaming Cafes. The discussion, moderated by Nishant Patel, co-founder of AFK Gaming, delved into the state of PC gaming in India and its prospects.

Shifting Demographics and Spending Trends of PC Gamers

Samkit Shah observed a significant demographic shift among gamers visiting gaming cafes post-pandemic, noting an increasing number of older individuals engaging in gaming activities. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the profile of gamers in India, with more individuals up to 40 years old now participating, compared to the pre-COVID era when the typical gamer was under 30. This demographic shift indicates a broadening appeal of gaming, extending beyond the traditional younger audience.

This change in demographics is accompanied by a noticeable increase in spending on gaming experiences. Gamers are now willing to invest in premium experiences, transforming gaming cafes into social hubs. They want better internet connections, high-end PCs, and a superior gaming environment. This willingness to spend has led to the development of tiered services in gaming cafes, catering to both budget-conscious gamers and those seeking top-tier gaming setups.

In the post-pandemic world, gaming cafes have evolved into social gathering spots where friends and families come together. This trend is reflected in the increased investment in high-quality gaming infrastructure. Once gamers experience premium setups, they are reluctant to return to basic configurations. The demand for high-end configurations like 4070 PCs and i7 processors has consistently outstripped supply.

The willingness to invest in premium experiences is not limited to urban centers. This trend is more aggressive in tier-2 cities than in tier-1 cities. The demand for better experiences is widespread, driven by increasing internet penetration and improved infrastructure.

Vishal Parekh echoed these sentiments, noting that the gaming habits of older gamers have evolved significantly. The boundaries between cafe and home gaming are becoming blurred. Gamers now spend hours in cafes for competitive play and social interaction and continue their sessions at home. This trend is fostering a more dedicated and serious gaming community.

Parekh also highlighted the rise of intergenerational gaming, with parents and children gaming together. This trend is fostering a family-friendly gaming environment, with parents increasingly supportive of their children’s gaming pursuits.

Challenges of Hardware Affordability and Infrastructure

Despite the rising number of individuals gravitating toward home gaming, widespread normalization of this trend across all levels in India remains a distant goal.

High costs remain a significant barrier for PC gaming in India, with components often priced 15-30% higher than in developed markets. Vishal Parekh highlighted the multifaceted nature of this challenge, emphasizing the interplay of import duties, taxes, and logistical costs. “A lot of these components are imported, and with that comes a range of duties and taxes. This, combined with logistical expenses, significantly inflates the final price of gaming hardware in India,” Parekh explained.

The issue of affordability extends beyond just the initial cost of the hardware. There is also the challenge of accessibility and the infrastructure required to support high-end gaming setups. Samkit Shah pointed out that real estate costs and power reliability are major concerns. “In cities like Mumbai, real estate is extremely expensive, and ensuring a stable power supply can be challenging. This makes it difficult for individuals to set up and maintain high-end gaming rigs at home,” Shah said. However, he also pointed out that the infrastructure is rapidly improving and these problems would be mitigated as the country develops.

To address these challenges, Shah and Parekh proposed a coordinated effort among various stakeholders in the gaming industry. They emphasized the importance of collaboration between manufacturers, retailers, and policymakers to reduce costs and enhance infrastructure. The panel also underscored the necessity for consumers to understand the reasons behind the high costs of PC hardware. 

The Role of Mobile Gaming in Growing the PC Gaming Industry

The discussion also focused on India's mobile-first gaming culture, with panelists emphasizing that this, rather than being a hindrance, could serve as a strategic entry point for expanding the PC gaming market. They suggested that mobile gamers could gradually transition to PC gaming through targeted marketing and other initiatives.

According to the panel, mobile gaming, while dominating the Indian market, also serves as an entry point for many new gamers. The accessibility and affordability of mobile devices have made them the primary gaming platform for millions of Indians and this widespread adoption has created a robust pipeline of potential PC gamers.

Xyaa added, “The first gaming experience for many in the country now is the mobile device. I think they get it for school or for work or for college or whatever and incidentally, they’re also playing on their phones.” She added that the trend among young gamers is to then transition to PC gaming for a superior experience.

The shift from mobile to PC gaming is driven by the desire for better gameplay, graphics, and overall gaming experience. “The first step into gaming for many is through their mobile devices. But as they get more serious about gaming, the natural progression is to move to a PC, where the possibilities are much greater,” Parekh explained.

Furthermore, the panel touched upon how mobile gaming has helped normalize gaming as a legitimate form of entertainment and even a career path. This broader acceptance is paving the way for more significant investments in gaming infrastructure and hardware, creating a more conducive environment for the growth of PC gaming. “Mobile gaming has done a lot to break down the stigma around gaming. As more people see the potential of gaming beyond just casual play, they’re more willing to invest in high-quality gaming setups,” Xyaa said.

Future Trends and Opportunities in PC Gaming

As infrastructure improves and more esports titles gain popularity, the future of PC gaming in India looks promising, according to industry experts. Vishal Parekh and Samkit Shah anticipate substantial growth in the sector, driven by diversification in game genres and enhanced accessibility.

Parekh highlighted the importance of broadening the types of games available on PCs to attract a wider audience. He believes that incorporating games such as RPGs (Role-Playing Games), MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas), and simulation games could unlock new potential for the market. "Expanding the variety of games will make PC gaming more appealing to diverse player groups, encouraging participation in tournaments and fostering community building," Parekh said.

With improving infrastructure, the accessibility of high-speed internet and affordable, high-performance PCs is expected to increase, particularly in tier-2 and tier-3 cities. Shah pointed out that advancements in technology, including cloud gaming, could further boost the attractiveness of PC gaming. These developments are essential for the sector's growth, as they will make high-quality gaming experiences more readily available to a broader audience.

The panel also stressed the significance of grassroots initiatives and community-building efforts in nurturing the PC gaming ecosystem. Local gaming cafes, community tournaments, and online forums can play a pivotal role in fostering a robust gaming community. These initiatives are crucial for sustaining interest and engagement among gamers.

Content creators like Xyaa are expected to continue playing an instrumental role in promoting PC gaming. Their influence can drive awareness and interest in various games and gaming experiences. Xyaa noted that content creators have a significant impact on their audiences. "PC streamers have a huge responsibility on their shoulders to grow PC gaming in India because nowadays if somebody wants to get into gaming, they will be on YouTube looking for videos of the game," she said.

She emphasizes the need for content creators to spread awareness about the diverse gaming experiences available on PCs and to educate their audiences.

The webinar concluded with cautious optimism about the future of PC gaming in India. Despite challenges such as high hardware costs and infrastructure limitations, the increasing willingness of gamers to invest in premium experiences and the potential for mobile gamers to transition to PCs are promising signs.

As the Indian gaming landscape evolves, the PC gaming sector is poised to carve out a significant niche, driven by a dedicated community of gamers seeking the ultimate gaming experience.

For more comprehensive insights from the webinar and to watch the full discussion, visit AFK Gaming's LinkedIn handle. The webinar will be available for viewing on Monday, June 24.

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Vignesh has been covering the esports industry for nearly 5 years starting with the early days of the DPC. His industry expertise includes experience in Dota 2, CS:GO and Mobile Esports coverage.