Children play on a cell phone at a market in New Delhi. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP)

While Indian factories and business establishments remain shut because of a 21-day lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19, mobile gaming is witnessing a surge in the number of downloads and viewer engagement. With people ordered to remain indoors and some employees working from home, mobile gaming has become a top leisure activity.

Games2Win, a major player in the mobile games segment, has witnessed a rise in its average daily traffic to 1.5 million from 1.2 million earlier. It has more than 175 million users across its portfolio of games.

WinZO, a vernacular social gaming platform, claims that the games played and the time spent on the app increased almost threefold over the last week. The platform was popular in smaller towns, but in the last week it had a surge of 41% users in metro cities. Owing to a rapid rise in the user base, WinZo has even scaled up its servers.

Hitwicket, an artificial intelligence-powered mobile cricket game, claims its user numbers have increased by 10-15% over the past few weeks and the average time spent has gone up from 20-25 minutes to 40 minutes. It also claimed that they are now seeing more working professionals as users.

Online rummy playing platform Adda52Rummy claims the lockdown has brought in users from new locales. The platform was hitherto popular in southern India, but in the past two weeks there has been a surge in users from north Indian towns, the company added.

Industry executives believe that those working from home have more time at their disposal, but limited entertainment options. Hence they are attracted to mobile games for killing time. They also said that the peak time used to be between 8 pm and 12 midnight, but now it is evenly spread almost throughout the day.

However, not all gaming sites are laughing all the way to the bank. The lockdown has badly hit fantasy sports platforms as they are heavily dependent on live sports events.

On these platforms the participants pay an entry fee and create their own “fantasy teams” during real-life matches. They win or lose points as per the performance of the players chosen by them in the real match.

Sporting events like the Indian Premier League for cricket have been postponed, while football’s Euro 2020 scheduled for later this year has been pushed to the summer of next year due to Covid-19 fears.

Hence fantasy games platforms have nothing much to offer and the companies have been forced to refund entry fees to the users, who are moving on to other gaming platforms.

A KPMG report has indicated that in India gaming apps are downloaded around three billion times, and it is the largest emerging market. According to a Google-KPMG study, the online gaming sector is estimated to grow to around $1.1 billion by 2021.