Gaming: Why Intel thinks the appetite of gamers in India would go up in 2021 – Times of India
Gaming industry in the last few years has come leaps and bounds, not just globally but in India as well. Intel, as a chipmaker, has been at the heart of the sea change that the gaming world has seen. The demand for PCs in 2020 has been very strong. As per IDC data, the last quarter was biggest for PCs in India and the gaming PC shipments have also increased. “PCs and gaming PCs are in demand because people are adapting to life from home,” says Prakash Mallya, VP and MD – sales, marketing and communications group, Intel India. Mallya shared some of his thoughts on the opportunities for the gaming sector in India, what Intel is doing in that regard and how the future is shaped for the overall gaming industry in India. Excerpts of the interaction with Intel’s Mallya:
Do you think the demand has happened mostly due to the pandemic? People who worked in offices are now working from home, so not a lot has changed on that part. Is there a direct correlation between the rise in PC sales and the work-from-home situation?
I absolutely think so. If you look at the overall gaming and the rest of the segment demand, it clearly shows that the pandemic has affected work, education and entertainment. All the three combined are fueling the demand for larger screen devices. Asus claims that the demand for gaming PCs increased threefold during the pandemic as compared to the pre-pandemic situation. Acer said that there was a very strong demand for gaming PCs during the Big Billion Days Sale. Everybody’s stuck at home — they would like better entertainment and they believe the larger screen device is a way of doing it and that’s why we have seen gaming (segment) accelerate at home.
How have gaming PCs contributed to it? Are there any specific age groups that have been buying gaming PCs a lot?
As per a joint study by Intel and Kantar, India is ranked number 2 worldwide on the highest number of gamers (across platforms), while a majority of them are on mobile and 90% of mobile gamers are willing / show a preference to shift to a large-screen device. The reason for that is the availability of a larger number of gaming titles. You got a plethora of big screen devices that solve big screen needs and don’t have to worry about the battery life or the graphics being patchy. So, the experience you get on a larger screen device is significantly better than that on a mobile phone. We are starting to see that shift and when you look at Asus and several other brands talking about gaming accelerating in the last few months and then look at that data on gaming, it fairly correlates and you would argue that though we do not have any specific data on the age groups, majority of them would be on the lower end of the age spectrum as either way, we are the youngest country on the planet and for most of them, gaming would fall in their interest.
When the lockdown began in March and after that, some games became globally popular like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and later, Among Us. Animal Crossing was the most discussed game on Twitter globally during the initial months of lockdown. Do you have any inputs about any such trend or a gaming trend in general happening in India and what are Intel’s plans? What is Intel doing to ensure that PC remains the preferred platform for gamers?
At the highest level, I see the first-person shooter games and the shift from mobile devices to large-screen devices. We, at Intel, have got an amazing set of products and technologies we are building when it comes to gaming and PCs. Not only the CPUs, but we have also invested in optic technology, WiFi6 etc, just to provide a platform which is truly game-changing in terms of the experience gamers are looking for from a large screen device. We have also invested in graphics, integrated graphics like the Intel Iris Xe which is a part of Tiger Lake or the Intel iris Xe Max. Then you got the server GPUs that we have launched and several other products. Technology is a big part of how we deliver better experiences to our gaming customers. We have associated with Marvel Avengers, a two-year partnership with Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix. We have done co-engineering and co-marketing and through our technology, have created renderings of how the destruction happens, the signature moves of Marvel heroes, how the water falls in the whole scene, how the debris disappear and appear on the screen and these all are software optimisations requiring intense amounts of computing technology to really render based on what the users are demanding.
Since PCs have several advantages over the mobile, we want to build the best technology out there for the PCs as the gaming experience is the best on PCs. In terms of variety and the number of titles, PC offers more. Also, Intel was one of the first companies to invest in esports (ESL) and we have renewed the contract too.
There has been growth in mobile gaming with over 300 million players, PC gaming and also, cloud gaming. Gaming as a service has also emerged as a trend where you can have a device but you would be rendering the game from the online server.
People are running out of storage options on their gaming devices. They wish to store more games so that they can play any title whenever they want to, instead of being forced to delete some of them to make way for the other one.
Correct, and that’s why the server GPUs and the work we are doing in the data centre space become interesting because we are not only looking at the gaming segment so as to provide just the best machine but also looking to provide the best server and the data centre infrastructure and the GPUs to provide a better experience on cloud gaming. I see the trend of 5G also emerging. 5G will happen in the country and one of the big benefits of 5G, in my opinion, would be the content distribution and the content delivery network. The more the content resides at the edges, the higher the quality of service delivery of all the gaming service providers in the longer run.
How have the small towns contributed to the rise in PC sales? Are the festive sales also responsible for the uptick in the PC segment?
I have watched this space for about three years and the growth in the PC segment has been shaping up for the past 2-3 years. The demand is very strong; big and small towns are similarly interested. In terms of numbers, I would say that the small town is still small or smaller than the big towns. E-commerce wasn’t a big part of sales about 5 years back but now it is and the festive sales like those of Amazon and others are there. It tells you that the demand (for PCs) can come from anywhere and it has shaped very differently than it was five years ago.
What do you think would be the biggest gaming trends in 2021?
Cloud gaming and AR/VR games. Also, improvement in the quality of broadband. High-quality broadband has a relatively very small penetration in our country. As that really goes up, the calibre of gaming, OTT and otherwise, I see that really rocking. You have seen, in the last eight months, the appetite of gamers in this country. It will go up.