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    A Legion of Innovations around the Console Ecosystem

    The games console is at the core of an ever-expanding ecosystem that continues to innovate in technology, content, experiences, and business models. These innovations are catapulting the console ecosystem from one based on final products generating one-off sales—whether a physical console or a game title—to a perpetual and evolving entertainment service that encourages daily, often multiplayer gameplay, generating a steady stream of revenue.

    The spur to console game growth is in its increasing integration with mobile. While games have historically been designed for either of the two very different device types, console titles are now starting to be integrated with complementary smartphone apps, allowing players to commingle in the same game from any device.

    The global console games market size is expected to grow from $65.48 billion in 2021 to $72.67 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11%. The growth in the market is mainly due to the companies rearranging their operations and recovering from the COVID-19 impact, which had earlier led to restrictive containment measures involving social distancing, remote working, and the closure of commercial activities that resulted in operational challenges. The console game market is expected to reach $103.93 billion in 2026 at a CAGR of 9.4%.

    Sumo India Studios is Working with digital giants like Apple and Microsoft, and is one of the world’s best game development studios headquartered in England and has expanded its base to India. Stewart Neal, Studio Director at Sumo India Studios had an in-depth conversation with ELE Times Sub Editor Mayank Vashisht touching on all the nuanced aspects of console gaming in the world as well as in India.


    Stewart Neal, Studio Director, Sumo India Studios

    ELE Times: What are some of the current technologies incorporated in gaming consoles that enable user experience enhancement?

    Game development studios rely heavily on technology for enhancing the 3D capabilities for level design, music, and visuals.

    For example, the PlayStation 5 has a DualSense controller giving haptic feedback, a speedy SSD for faster load times, and immersive 3D audio. One of the notable features of the PlayStation 5 is that some games feature cross-play. You can continue your adventures with your friends on their PS4 or PS5 systems with the PlayStation network, or even on the PlayStation app.

    The current generation consoles come with fantastic features such as faster load times, higher resolution, stable frame rates, and better input latency. The gaming experiences offered by the PS5, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch are high-end – and all have their own benefits and features.

    The PS5’s Auto Low Latency Mode ensures smooth gameplay with reduced lag on your console. Even its Control Center is designed in a manner that players can access system features, game content, and activities without leaving their gameplay. Gamers can jump straight from the console’s Control Center to specific missions, modes, and more.

    The Xbox Series X is a prominent player in the market as well as being one of the few consoles to support gaming in Dolby Vision – this way, the gameplay is enhanced with immersive audio and reduced lag, thereby enhancing the overall gameplay significantly. The frame rates of up to 120 FPS, along with the visual pop of HDR and 3D spatial sound, make it one of the fastest and most powerful Xbox consoles to date.

    We also have another console in the market with the Nintendo Switch, however, Nintendo is not officially available in India. For many countries and millions of gamers, it has transformed the home console into a portable system that can easily change to handheld mode – flipping the screen allows it to be used as a tabletop model, as well as being able to connect it to your TV. The controller is flexible as it can be used vertically or sideways, and can be attached to the console or played separately as well.

    Having all these features in modern-day consoles allows gamers to fully immerse themselves in the games that studios such as Sumo India develop, wherever they want to play.

    ELE Times: However, there has been a sharp uptick in console gaming in India, the majority of people indulge in mobile gaming. Is it the accessibility issue or the price point of consoles or something else according to you that would be the reason for this disparity?

    Console gaming is definitely growing in India. However, the majority of gamers are still very much into mobile gaming. I feel the major roadblock is accessibility – mobile games are popular due to the low entry barriers. Everywhere you turn, you’re almost guaranteed to see someone with a smartphone these days. In addition, most mobile games are of the free-to-play monetization model and are considered to be more cost-efficient.

    Console games, on the other hand, have entry barriers at multiple levels. Setting up a console or owning a PlayStation is usually considered to be expensive in India when compared to mobile games that are easily available and accessible in just an instant with a tap. Parents in this country have doubts about purchasing video games as they are viewed as a distraction from studies.

    One of the other problems here, I believe, is marketing as consoles are not promoted effectively in the market. As a result, people are not aware of its high-end features and the immersive, fast-loading gameplay experiences they offer – so TV ads are what I personally think are needed here.

    But console gaming is gradually witnessing a surge and, of course, it will make its mark in the games industry here in India very soon. We believe the growing popularity of subscription services like Xbox Game Pass and the new PlayStation Plus subscription will help and, eventually, console gaming will become an affordable hobby and not just a luxury.

    ELE Times: How have the electronics of Gaming consoles changed over the years?

    Well, console gaming engineers and developers are adopting various strategies to improve electronics. One such way is that they have increased the storage capacity of gaming consoles, ever since the first consoles were conceptualized. In the past, memory space was restricted to a few megabytes, but now, technology has allowed engineers to come up with games with storage of terabytes.

    The graphic capacities have also increased and newer consoles allow gamers to play with realistic graphics, such as the Xbox Series X and PS5’s 4K gaming opportunities. When it comes to Xbox, its new System on a Chip (SOC) and the Xbox Velocity Architecture offer speed to players.

    There was a time when players had to insert gaming discs into the console so that they could play the games. This is still an option for most players, but now they can also easily install games on their consoles. With more space available on the consoles, the amount of games people can play has greatly increased. You can also use external SSD hard drives and save time instead of re-downloading them or installing them from a disc.

    In fact, the consoles have evolved to an extent that now we can stream Netflix and consume content from OTT platforms including Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV, Netflix etc. on these consoles. All you need to do is download their applications, log in and stream content on your Xbox or PlayStation – all your entertainment needs in one place!

    ELE Times: Please enlist some of the major challenges of developing AAA games. What according to you would be some of the suggestions to overrule those challenges?

    Video gaming specifically has gained popularity on a mass global scale. When it comes to the growth of the Indian gaming market, its potential is yet to be explored fully. As mentioned before, the industry here still has a number of roadblocks to overcome. One of the main issues is recruiting the right talent and the significant skill gap. There’s also the lack of resources and support from the Government, which is creating a major challenge in AAA game development.

    Even the audience’s perception of gaming and their original concerns about accepting these sorts of games is another factor that acts as a hindrance when it comes to developing AAA games. Sadly, even now gaming is only considered a source of kid’s entertainment by many, whereas a lot of AAA games have really engaging stories and are actually rated for ages 18+. Some of the popular series on Netflix are based on games such as The Witcher, Arcane etc.

    To get past these challenges, we need to ensure that there is enough awareness about video games as a business and that they can be an equal source of employment as they are entertainment. To bridge the skill gap, we need gaming-related courses and training in Indian Universities and colleges.

    I think we also have to work on the price of AAA games. We have to ensure that they are competitively priced so that even these games can fall under the category of an affordable hobby. The Government has taken a small step to support the gaming industry at the moment by setting up an AVGC task force. However, it’s going to be a gradual process to see the true results of these actions.

    ELE Times: There is always a next. What would be the next big development in the gaming industry? Do you think that XR, MR, and AR would become more commonly incorporated into games in the near future? Please share your anticipation for the gaming industry from your standpoint.

    It’s safe to say that technology is the future of every industry and the video games market is no exception. I’d say that cloud gaming will feature prominently in the future. As per some reports, the global cloud gaming market is expected to be valued at $40.81 billion in 2029 and will grow at a CAGR of 43.6% from 2021 to 2027.

    This means that cloud gaming will bring more and more gamers together without demanding a heavy investment. Gaming will soon become an anytime, anywhere concept as players will be able to game from any location due to cloud technology.

    Subscription-based monetization model will also boost the accessibility of the industry and might put an end to the problem of games being expensive for people in India. This model will not only enable gaming brands to garner revenues but will also help build a better connection with other players.

    Gaming will also become all the more interactive and immersive with the integration of more VR technology, with players’ experiences and emotions becoming more enhanced. Features such as motion tracking, 3D effects, and interactive graphics are some of the VR-based trends that we’ll start to see a lot more of in the near future.

    ELE Times: Please share some light on the Gaming industry of India, briefly providing a contrast with the global gaming industry. How do you anticipate the next 5 years for this industry in India?

    When we look at the industry globally, the USA, China, Japan, and South Korea are the key players. The US sector is apparently worth more than $40 billion at the moment, with China at more than $45billion. When comparing the Indian market, it occupies a small share of 1% of the global gaming industry, so there’s a lot more that needs to be done.

    China specifically is one of Asia’s important gaming economies. The growing number of exports coupled with the ongoing innovation in new games and consoles are driving its market. In China, people usually like to play in gaming cafes – and multiplayer strategy games, as well as mobile games, are very popular there. Mini-games also have a strong presence in the country – the rapid growth of mini-games played within mobile apps such as WeChat without installing other apps is really fuelling China’s gaming market growth.

    Japan, on the other hand, has also been one of the major players in the gaming sector as it’s home to leading gaming companies including the likes of Nintendo and Sony. Various acquisitions and partnerships of the country’s gaming studios with leading brands are further contributing to expanding their gaming landscape.

    Sega partnering with Microsoft in 2021 to use the Microsoft Azure cloud platform for the development of the Super Games platform is one such example. The Japanese population love anime-related content and it has heavily featured in their games’ art style as well.

    The US and Europe are giants in gaming too. However, their style of games is very different from Japanese games. In western countries, people love consoles, but mobile gaming is booming as well. There are a lot of YouTubers and Instagram influencers who earn a living by talking about gaming, giving their opinions on games and playing on live streams.

    All these markets have one thing in common, they are old giants in gaming. These countries already have a strong presence in the global landscape and are aiming for further growth in the wake of technological advancements. Compared to the gaming industry in India, the market is relatively small and there are challenges which we have discussed before.

    Mobile gaming has given a boost in India and it serves 61% of the overall Indian gaming market. The country has 220 million mobile gamers who spend an average of 42 minutes per day. Console gaming has a long way to go and we are seeing a very slow rise. In the next five years, my prediction is mobile gaming will keep on growing at a rapid pace as well as console gaming, but the latter will grow at a much slower pace. With the growing popularity of 5G, the internet will even be faster and this will give another boost to mobile gaming.

    I see a huge potential in the market as I see people queuing outside Apple Stores just to buy a new iPhone every year and the same can happen with console sales if they’ll be marketed well, especially through TV ads. One thing’s for sure, studios like Sumo India will continue to deliver quality games – and hopefully, we’ll see a lot more people enjoying them as the industry grows stronger in this country.

    Mayank Vashisht |Sub Editor | ELE Times

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