Other than video calling, it was mobile gaming that took India by storm during the lockdowns and social distancing times. As parents got busy with remote work and struggled to maintain the work-life balance, the popularity of mobile games surged among the youth, especially millennials and Gen Z.
With the Covid-hit year entering its last leg, Indians were spending around 7 hours in a week on playing games on their mobiles and the duration increased among majority (53 per cent) since the lockdown that began early this year.
Interestingly, 15 per cent of the gamers switched to paid mobile gaming apps during the lockdown while freemium gaming apps increased by 8 per cent.
According to the CyberMedia Research (CMR) report that came out in November, mobile gaming increased among three in every five serious gamers, with four hours being average duration of increase since the lockdown began in the country.
Indian men mostly played action/adventure (71 per cent) and first-persons shooter (63 per cent) games on their smartphones. The 'Call of Duty Mobile' and the 'Garena Free Fire' were the popular first-person shooter games.
Among women, the most popular type of the game was puzzles (65 per cent), followed by multiplayer gamers (56 per cent).
Here are the top 5 mobile games that ruled the screens this year.
1. Among Us
Among Us from gaming company InnerSloth was the most downloaded mobile game worldwide for September 2020 with 83.8 million installs, which was 40 times more than the title had in September 2019. In India, kids went crazy for it.
Among Us is a multiplayer game about teamwork and betrayal. You and your crewmates can play this game online or over a local Wi-Fi and attempt to keep your spaceship together. It is important that each player must cooperate with one another in order to return back to civilisation.
2. Ludo King
Ludo King, which was launched in 2016, became one of the top five most installed mobile games in April. The growth during the initial phase of the ongoing lockdown helped Ludo King reach the number-one ranking in the top charts of free games on Google Play for some days.
A free-to-play app developed by Indian studio Gametion Technologies Pvt Ltd based in Mumbai, it brought the classic board game on the digital platform. In the pandemic, it was downloaded millions of time in the country.
It smashed all mobile gaming records in India, becoming the top gaming app across platforms. It is a cross-platform app that works on Android, iOS, desktop, and even the Windows mobile platform.
Ludo King surpassed top games like Candy Crush Saga, PUBG, Clash of Clans, Subway Surfers, Temple Run, and others in monthly active users in India.
3. PUBG Mobile
PUBG Mobile has emerged as the highest-grossing mobile game of 2020. According to Sensor Tower, the Tencent-owned game raked in a revenue of close to $2.6 billion from both Google Play Store and Apple's App Store. The figure represents an increase of 64 per cent from last year.
According to the data by Sensor Tower Store Intelligence, both PUBG Mobile and its rebranded version in China called Game For Peace managed to accumulate the highest revenue from Play Store and App Store.
The immensely popular PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) Mobile app was among the 118 Chinese apps that the Indian government banned in September over national security concerns.
In November, PUBG Corporation said it is making a comeback to the India market with the creation of an Indian subsidiary and a new game.
4. Pokemon Go
For Pokemon Go, 2020 has been its best year by far where it accumulated a revenue increase of 31.5 per cent. The sudden increase in player spending was because of the various implementations in the game allowing for playing during the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Pokemon GO has been around for a few years now, but it continues to impress with its longevity and massive popularity.
5. Garena Free Fire
Garena Free Fire grew to become one of the top five grossing entries in the burgeoning genre since its launch in late 2017. Garena Free Fire (also known as Free Fire Battlegrounds or Free Fire) is a battle royale game, developed by 111 Dots Studio and published by Garena for Android and iOS.
The game received the award for the "Best Popular Vote Game" by the Google Play Store in 2019. As of May 2020, Free Fire has set a record with over 80 million daily active users globally. As of November 2019, Free Fire has grossed over $1 billion worldwide.
(Md Waquar Haider can be reached at email@example.com)