E-sports in India is at an early stage

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members


E-sports in India is at an early stage

The light cascades off the leaves, a shimmering golden orangish hue that signals the advent of dawn. A twig crumbles and your heart is racing. There is a sudden adrenalin rush as the camouflage pays off and you prepare to hunt down your prey. No, this isn’t a reminiscence of our primordial history as hunter-gathers but a potential vista in the Virtual Reality driven era of elaborate escapism.

The Federation of Electronic Sports Association of India has stated that the epsorts ecosystem in the country is likely to touch 1125 crores by 2025. The national esports organisation FEAI will shortly release a strategy paper outlining the foundation for the growth of esports in India and provide a path for the formalisation of this sector. The leading esports organisation includes chapters in 26 Indian states and partnerships with organisations outside, including the British Esports Association. FEAI has created a policy paper that could define the future of esports in India.

The projections remain despite the recent BGMI ban on July 27th by the government that has heavily impacted the e-sports industry in India.

Understanding the potential

There is still massive scope for e-sports in India, especially with viewership in the hinterlands increasing. Presently, India generates revenues of $1.5 billion for the gaming industry. Since the user base is expected to grow exponentially, it is likely that this number will triple to $5 billion by 2025.

In the last 4 to 5 years, the country has witnessed a 200% growth in viewership for e-sports coupled with the price pool increasing with intense competition among the sporting leagues in India. Much of this momentum hit a roadblock recently with the BGMI ban as it was considered to be the king of the e-Sports titles in India. However, the significant interest in e-sports remains.

News reports highlight that by 2025 the e-sports industry could generate revenues of 1100 crores as the viewership increases to 85 million. The growth of e-sports is in sync with changing consumer paradigms with the consumption of live stream content increasing. Gamers especially will find a large audience on live streaming platforms. The spend by Brands on live streaming content has increased by 30 percent in the past 2 years.

Setting the stage

Across the world, esports tournaments that are live streamed garner the same appeal and viewership as other sports events like cricket, tennis, and soccer. There is something innate in our psyche that creates a zeal for competitive sports, be it  a virtual sport or an in-person one. In countries like South Korea, e-sports competitions can often be more popular than conventional sports like cricket and soccer.

An argument could be made the esports in India is on the verge of reaching new summits and establish at the right time. The country has the right consonance of high speed 4G connectivity, cheap data services, and a plethora of affordable smartphones and many devices that are focussed on gaming. The aforementioned factors could have helped propel the e-sports industry to the new vistas; the country is home to the second largest internet consumer population across the globe with 658 million internet users as per news reports. A bulk of the internet consumer population in the country is digitally savvy and have an appetite for online gaming.

Presently, India makes for just 1 percent of the global gaming market but the e-sports industry could change this narrative significantly. The recent BGMI ban like the PUBG ban a few years ago could be a significant blow to a nascent industry to a lot of potential. The need of the hour is a tenable framework being implemented, like the one proposed by FEAI, to ensure that trust and success is eventually built into the country’s nascent e-sports ecosystem.

– By Lionel Alva



Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members