India’s thriving gaming market is attracting offshore tech giants and boosting local gaming studios. Popular online games continue on an upwards spiral and stimulate the growth of the entire IT start-up ecosystem.


The continuous growth of smartphone users in India over the past few years has brought the total number of online users in Bharat to 750 million, as per year-end government data. Affordable phones and cheap internet plans have made mobile phones the centre of daily routine for the majority of adults in the nation, including in rural communities. This upwards trend has been accelerated by Covid-induced changes in consumption and socialisation.

A list of the most popular mobile games in India is not easy to compile – they rank from casual and mobile-centred games, through desi classics such as teen patti real cash games played on websites such as, to action and adventure multiplayer communities. One thing is certain, the upwards trend in mobile phone usage has pushed gaming habits to unprecedented levels, as Gen X (45+), female and rural users have joined the tech-savvy urban players.

For now, the online gaming industry in India has catching up to do. The most popular games are predominantly foreign-built or based. Even if we overlook last year’s top pick PUBG, banned by the Centre on security grounds along with a host of Chinese gaming apps and services, the majority of those worth mentioning are international releases.

Loyal desi subscribers have made “Call of Duty: Mobile” a worthy successor to PUBG, with more than 170 million downloads since its launch in October 2020. A similar first-person shooter top pick is “Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO)”. Team-based and Battle-Royal gameplay modes, objective-related rounds, fantastic graphics and immense gamer communities make these mobile games prime examples of the industry.

Besides social network-based instant and casual games (and related interest groups), many other users show consistent interest in pool and snooker (e.g. “8 Ball Pool”), classic card and board games for the whole family or multiplayer adventure gaming platforms.

India’s Own Game Studios Step Up

This increasingly stable interest in mobile games is ultimately providing a boost to tech companies around the country as well. Both hardware and software producers report a healthy growth for the IT and innovation ecosystem, as the sector has been among the least affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bharat gaming development studios are also enjoying increased investor interest and are able to dedicate more resources to local content creation in response to rising domestic demand. With over 300 top-class gaming studios already operating around the country, the segment has been building upon strength and gaining global visibility. This time, for its know-how, experience and output quality rather than its ability to provide back-office resources to offshore companies.

As India stands its ground to the neighbour to the North on the digital scene, the challenge for most gaming studios is to offer dedicated desi content, as well as gain wider social acceptance for their top-quality mobile gaming apps. Ultimately, however, the ability to look beyond national borders, expand their consumer base and seek to get established as global players is the horizon of ambitions for many of the country’s digital enterprises.

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