The Indian esports industry is growing rapidly. Growth and penetration of internet infrastructure along with the accessibility of affordable gaming devices have contributed to the rise of esports in India. Currently, there are over 150 million esports gamers in India which is expected to hit the 270 million mark by 2024. Contrary to the statistics of gamers around the world, India has grown into a mobile dominant esports ecosystem due to the increasing interest and ease of accessibility to affordable gaming phones among millennials. With 5G technology on the way, we would see more gamers turning into esports enthusiasts.
If we go by the numbers, the Indian esports industry accounted for 9.13% of aggregated revenue out of the overall online gaming market in FY20 as per the Inc42 report. India also saw a huge rise in esports viewership that touched 17 million in 2020 which is expected to cross 90 million by 2025.
From publishers to gamers, the whole ecosystem runs at multiple levels which gives a plethora of opportunities for businesses and gamers alike. Here are some of the possible avenues:
1. Event Organizers:
Intellectual properties (IP) in esports are being built for different esports games like PMPL and Free Fire Championship to name a few. Organizing big-league events attract massive participation as well as viewership from gaming enthusiasts and fans of esports entities. It also provides lucrative monetization opportunities with sponsorship, media rights, ticketing, merchandise, and more. India has seen brands like Mountain Dew, Poco, Qualcomm, Jio, Intel, and many more, sponsor esports tournaments and teams in recent years.
2. Career Opportunities:
Esports is slowly but steadily turning into a viable career option for many. Being an esports athlete is now a lucrative career choice as new startups are launching their own teams to compete in league events. In addition to that, casters/commentators, video editors, coaches, and streamers, etc. are some great options that you can explore as a career in the esports industry. Casting talent/commentator profile offers the opportunity to talk about the game as it goes on.
3. Professional Team Organizations
With more leagues and events being hosted, esports organizations are forming professional teams and coaching them into esports athletes. Owning an esports team creates an invaluable IP where one can monetize via sponsorships, content and prize pool.
4. Gaming Cafes
Esports cafes have great potential as they support gamers to play esports games and tournaments without having expensive and requisite hardware. India has over 350-plus such esports cafes equipped with mandatory infrastructure in place. Recently NVIDIA announced to add up to 100 more cafes to the list.
5. Content Monetization
Esports being a spectator sport attracts millions of players who not only play the game but also watch online gameplay on streaming platforms. With the high demand for quality content, monetization via advertisement and patronage has been the bread and butter of the industry.
Esports in India is an opportunity waiting to be grabbed and a lot is already happening in this space.
One of the key reasons behind the skyrocketing popularity of esports is the prize money attached to it. Since 2016, the prize money given to the players participating in the leagues and tournaments has increased manifold. This solely has attracted a huge audience base to play esports and win big.
Prize pools paid out from Indian tournaments saw an increase of over 180% from just above $500K in 2018 to over $1.5 million in 2019 with international events like ESL One Mumbai, COBX Masters, and DreamHack Delhi being hosted in India. The domestic prize pool surge has been fuelled by the popularity of the games such as Free Fire, PUBG Mobile (now introduced as Battlegrounds Mobile India), and other multiplayer action or strategy games.
As the demand for competitive gaming is growing, venture capital firms and investors are showing interest in investing in esports. Recently, Krafton invested ₹154 crore in Nodwin Gaming along with $9 million as seed funding to Loco—a game streaming platform popular among streamers. This shows positive growth and opens the gateway for other venture capitalists and firms to look at investment opportunities in the Indian esports ecosystem.
Esports is an established industry in countries like the US, Japan and China. India has the calibre and capacity to become a global leader in esports, and it is about to explode.
Tarun Gupta is the founder of Ultimate Battle – India’s first online esports platform. He has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry and is a passionate esports enthusiast. He started Ultimate Battle in 2017, and has since guided the development of the platform to cater to the needs of Indian gamers. His innovation and effective marketing strategy has helped Ultimate Battle grow into one of India’s one-stop destinations for all things gaming.
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