Electronic game store manager R. K. Pandey and his staff are working hard to make sure the shelves of electronic games are stocked at least as high as those of physical game shops in India.
A typical electronic game console in the shop is a sleek silver machine, with a sleek design and a powerful processor, but Pandey, who is in his late 40s, doesn’t see that as a good fit for India’s burgeoning online gaming market.
“It is not a good idea,” he says.
“When you see the size of the shelves, it is really quite a large room.”
Pandey is part of the new digital-game industry in India that includes retailers like Indian Apples and Shikari Games, a Mumbai-based startup that operates as a distributor of games for the mobile and home markets.
Digital games are available for download from mobile apps that allow players to trade virtual items or create their own games.
These are often played on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets and can range from casual games, which require players to keep track of their progress through the course of the game, to longer-running and expensive games.
The digital-games business in India is growing at a fast pace, and the industry is expected to be worth about $1 billion in 2020, according to industry estimates.
But there are still a few hurdles to overcome in India’s booming online gaming sector, which has been growing at an alarming pace and is now expected to grow by almost 20 percent by 2021.
“There are not enough retailers to satisfy the needs of the market,” Pandey says.
And online gaming is one of the few industries that can’t easily scale up and expand as the Indian economy gets stronger.
The problem is that India’s online gaming markets are small, and its consumers are very demanding, so there is a high risk of losing a lot of sales if the industry doesn’t get better at getting the games they want.
“You have to be careful,” Pandya says.
Pandya and his team are planning to launch a second online game store in Mumbai, which will help them scale up, and have plans to expand the digital game market to other cities like Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
But the biggest challenge is how to ensure that the physical store stays stocked.
Pandesay, who also runs an online store for physical products like electronics, believes the best way to do this is to introduce a digital store at the end of the year.
That would help to give the customers the option of buying online from their physical stores, and make sure they can access all their products through the new online stores.
“We have to do a better job at keeping the physical stores stocked, so they are able to do the shopping,” Pandesary says.
He says he expects that a major online game retailer like Amazon or GameStop will eventually follow suit, as they are also facing the same challenges.
But Pandey believes there will be a need for retailers to be flexible in order to provide a seamless experience for customers.
“The more customers have access to the online store, the better we will be able to make our game business grow,” Pandysay says.