While esports continues to be recognized as a legitimate sport in many places around the world, there is still a slight hesitation when it comes to India. According to Lokesh Suji, director of the Esports Federation of India (ESFI), the unprecedented growth of esports in the country could very well outrun cricket, one of the most popular sports in India. However, there are still certain obstacles that stand in the way of the esports industry from fully harnessing the massive gaming potential present in the country.
The most common hurdle for esports in India is that there is still confusion about the kind of games that fall under the esports category. Video games that are included in esports like Counter-Strike, Valorant, FIFA, Dota, etc. are often included in the same category as real money games like poker, rummy, and fantasy sports. The lack of a clear definition has led many to believe that the two are one and the same.
What people need to realise is that though esports competitions are played on a digital screen, skill is still an important requirement. Just like it would be in any other physical sport, therefore including esports in the category of games of chance and gambling is not justified. “Esports exclusively relies on skill. You cannot win in a video game competition of FIFA by chance. You still need to have the skills to win in it,” explains Suji.
While India may still be slow to recognize esports as a legitimate sport, there are steps being taken in that direction. Recently, the Indian Olympic Association recognized esports as an official sport in the country. This is a big progress for the industry in India especially after the announcement that esports would now be included as a medal sport in the Asian Games 2022.
This development will also bring avid esports players in the country to the forefront and give them a chance to pursue a career in the industry. With a plethora of Indian youth already making their mark in the esports scene, legitimizing it will also give them more opportunities. In a post-pandemic world, considering esports as an official sport may just be the answer to India’s struggling economy.