We recently had the opportunity to attend Unite India 2017, the first Unite to ever take place in India. It happened in collaboration with the NGDC 2017 or the NASSCOM Game Developers Conference, a conference dedicated to game creators that have been happening in India annually.
For those of you who don’t know, Unite is Unity’s developer conference. They’ve held Unite in over eight countries over the years and it’s a gathering of developers, artists, publishers, educators and enthusiasts. Many experts and spokesperson from Unity technologies itself and other prominent fields in game development were present to give a deeper insight into the world of gaming.
Unite India took place on the 8th and 9th of November and preceded the NGDC which began on the 9th and will continue till the 11th. Both events took/are taking place at the Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre. So if you were hoping to attend the NGDC this year, you have until the weekend to do so.
While at the event, we had the opportunity to meet and interact with Hubert Larenaudie (President, Asia Pacific, Unity Technologies), Quentin Staes-Polet (Director, South Asia Pacific, Unity Technologies), and Rajesh Rao (Chairman, NASSCOM Gaming Forum) and get some valuable insight into Unity and how the gaming market, specifically smartphone gaming, is currently faring in the country.
India and smartphone gaming
India is one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world, and that has made India one of the highest ranking countries when it comes to global game downloads. Going up from rank 9 to rank 3 this year. This is only in terms of Unity games. But it should be noted that Unity games take up a large chunk of all games on the app stores, so that percentage is quite significant.
According to Quentin Staes-Polet, the reason for the massive rise in game downloads can be pinned to the spike in affordable high-end mobile devices available in the market today. Just within the span of a year, the number of mobile devices with over 1GB of RAM in the country has gone from 31.6 million units to over 100 million.
Rajesh Rao Rao added that thanks to that, 4G, and now Jio, the smartphone gaming industry is getting a huge boost. Accessibility is the key to everything. As more and more people get access to better hardware, more people will pick up gaming on the phone.
The demographic for gamers on the phone is much wider than those of PC or console gamers. Once you’re done installing the essentials onto your phones, i.e., WhatsApp, Facebook etc, what are you going to install next? Games. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that India has so quickly risen in the ranks when it comes to global downloads.
When asked what the biggest hurdle was, all three responded that it was getting people to pay or make purchases in-game. We as a nation are not very keen to part with our money. But that’s not all, there’s another hurdle in the form of payment methods. Both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store usually only support payments via credit card. In a nation where a very small percentage of the population actually even has a credit card, this is quite a problem. However, Rajesh says that things will change pretty soon, maybe even within the year if the market continues to grow as fast it is right now.
Quentin added that 15 years ago, there was no market to speak off in China, smartphone or mobile gaming. They are right now the biggest market in both aspects. He says that they notice a very similar pattern with India and are pretty sure that India will soon be the biggest market in the world, eventually surpassing China.
Unity outside of gaming
But back to Unite, Unity is expanding its reach to applications outside of gaming. We found that Unity is doing a lot on AR/VR and its applications outside of gaming. The focus was not on just game development, but also on non-gaming genres such as Social, Medical, Financial and more. There were a lot of workshops on the various genres and how Unity could help and be used to enhance user experience.
All in all, the first Unite India was quite an insightful experience and we got to experience a lot of what Unity is bringing to the table. We hope they’ll be back again next year.
Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh
If he's not gaming, he's... no wait he's always gaming.