India is one of the top five markets for mobile gaming in terms of the number of users. On the back of growing penetration of affordable smartphones, low-cost data, and improved bandwidth, the number of online gamers has risen exponentially over the last couple of years. And with the growing popularity of esports, mobile gaming has established a foothold beyond the metros to Tier 2, Tier 3 cities.
Opensignal analyzed the mobile network experience in 48 of India’s largest cities to see how they stacked up on our Games Experience metric. It measures how users perceive real-time multiplayer mobile gaming on cellular networks (on a scale of 0-100) across some of the most popular genres such as Battle Royale and MOBA games, of which COD, PUBG and Clash Royale are examples. We found that cities in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra dominated our measure of mobile gaming experience in India — seven of the top ten cities hail from either of the states. The best Games Experience was enjoyed by our users in Gujarat’s metro city of Ahmedabad with a score of 71.7, followed by Navi Mumbai (70.1) and Vadodara (69.8). It was noteworthy that Ahmedabad and Mumbai were the only Tier 1 cities that placed in the top ten cities, along with Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities like Surat, Thane, and Rajkot.
In fact, only four out of eight Tier 1 cities were within the top 20, with users in Chennai and Hyderabad reporting scores of 63.6 points and 63.1 points respectively, while other Tier 1 cities like Pune (61.5), Bangalore (61.3), Delhi (59.8) and Kolkata (57.2) placed further below in the lower half of our chart. Lastly, at the bottom of our chart with scores below 50 points were Varanasi and Thiruvananthapuram.
But what factors will contribute to a good games experience? There are a range of technical network characteristics that together affect the Games Experience, of which three key factors are:
- UDP (User Datagram Protocol) Latency, i.e., packet delay, which characterizes the responsiveness of the network connection for time-sensitive applications, especially mobile gaming. For example, lower latencies improve the reaction times of players in action games.
- Packet loss, i.e., the proportion of data packets that never reach their destination. In a game, this means the player’s actions may never take effect, or that the state of the game stops being communicated back to the player. This hurts a player’s ability to enjoy a game and makes it harder to win.
- Jitter, i.e., the variability of the arrival time of data packets. All data packets take time to travel between locations — for example between a player and the game server — but often the amount of delay varies between packets. Higher jitter levels are often a sign of network congestion caused by routers struggling to pass on data packets.
Visualizing how network conditions affect mobile gaming
With both animations, the bottom panel is an example of a gaming experience without any network issues, while the panel above shows what happens when network performance is impaired.
High packet loss or jitter
Often there is a relationship between these three inputs and their effect on a player’s experience. The lower the UDP, packet loss and jitter, the better the Games Experience.
App Annie estimates that the mobile games market In India is worth $1.1 billion with the number of users projected to reach 628 million by this year. This means that Games Experience is becoming increasingly important for Indian consumers, hence any operator that provides the best Games Experience definitely holds an advantage.
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