Indian esports to be next big bet of marquee investors

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Esports, short for electronic sports, is a form of competition using video games. While video games traditionally are played casually, a new category has come up in the past decade where players play the video games professionally in a competitive environment with spectators watching these events on large screens and televised globally.

As per KPMG-FICCI 2021 report, India’s gaming market is projected to reach Rs. 143 billion (US$ 2.03 billion) by FY22 up from just Rs. 62 billion in FY 2021. The mobile gaming market in India is projected to hit a $5 billion opportunity by 2025 from the current $1.5 billion, according to a recent Sequoia India and Boston Consulting Group report

In a 2020 published report by YouGov, even gamers do not necessarily know what esports are. In many markets, this is in part due to more casual and mobile gamers, who represent a large and significant group of players – but one also less familiar with esports. The report noted that only 36% of Indian gamers are familiar with esports.

The unfamiliarity among the gamers itself does not make the esports sector small. To understand the scale of esports, take the fact that the North American League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split Finals in 2019 has seen 10,000 live viewers a number comparable to few traditional sports leagues, with 600,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch and YouTube combined during the final game.

In November 2018, the “League of Legends” World Championship finals organised in South Korea and hosted by the game’s publisher, Riot Games has seen 100 million unique viewers tuned in to the online streaming. These numbers are akin to viewers of NBA Finals.

What is unique about esports?

A unique aspect of esports is that success does not depend on the physical features of the players but on the responsiveness and the presence of the mind. A player can specialize in multiple games at the same time i.e., the same player can compete in PUBG and Free Fire Garena. The nature of esports creates a level playing field with no discrimination on gender, race, region.

The industry has got impetus by high-speed internet and growing interest for multi-player battle royale games like Free Fire and PUBG. EA FIFA has also transformed itself into an esports game with the publisher organizing games at regional and global levels. Youtube, Twitch, and other streaming websites also encouraged the players to live-stream and engage with followers.

Becoming a top esports player requires dedication and patience. A report by BBC states that some players might train for up to 14 hours a day to make sure they have extremely quick reflexes and reactions. Players must be able to multi-task extremely well.

What does the future hold for esports players?

Professional gamers are signed up by nearly 20 teams in the Premier League. The winners make a considerable amount by prize amounts.

Esports in Asian Games and Commonwealth

An inaugural Commonwealth esports championship will be held during the next edition of the Commonwealth Games scheduled to be held in Birmingham this summer. The event will take place at the International Convention Centre between 6-7 August. Common Wealth Games is the second-largest multi-sporting event after Olympics.

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The 2022 edition is scheduled from 26 July to 8 August, with 5,000 athletes from 72 countries competing. This year’s Asian Games, to be held in Hangzhou, China in September will award medals for eight esports, including Hearthstone, League of Legends, FIFA, and Street Fighter V. This also gives gamers to win medals for the country.

Indian scenario in esports

 In January, India-based esports platform Rooter raised $25 million in a Series A round. The company also signed up cricketer Yuzvendra Chahal as a content creator on Rooter’s platform.

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech announced the setting up a task force comprising of industry stakeholders to boost the AVGC sector. The announcement was received by the industry with optimism. India also got an Esports Federation.

Conclusion:

Esports is a sunrise sector and has immense potential from the perspective of gamers and businesses. Ads in video games are a powerful tool for marketers to reach America’s youth, according to new YouGov data released in June 2021. While similar statistics are not available for India, the same may be applicable to Indian gamers and elsewhere. Esports is expected to grow multifold in the coming years in India and globally giving good returns to the investors in the coming years.

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