India’s online gaming, esports sectors target growth without pandemic aid

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The Indian gaming and e-sports market is now at its peak growth trajectory. Fantasy leader Dream11 was valued at a whopping $8 billion in its last round. Popular gaming and e-sports companies like WinZO, Rooter, Gamerji, and many others have secured investments from venture funds in recent months. MPL last month forayed into Europe with the acquisition of GameDuell.

Also read: Esports platform Gamerji raises $1.1 million in pre-Series A

The gaming sector has seen a significant improvement in the user interface, speed, and responsiveness of the games. This is also aided by modern chipsets in smartphones and the cheap internet. The pandemic boredom is said to be a catalyst for the increased penetration of online games.

Gaming companies big and small are now looking to scale up their businesses, onboard new users without the aid of pandemic boredom as normalcy returns. According to investment promotion agency Invest India, the country is among the top five mobile gaming markets in the world and the second-largest online market in the world. There are over 560 million online gamers and over 250 million mobile gamers in India with over 15000 game developers and 275 game development companies in India.

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The government policy of 100% FDI through automatic route in the gaming sector also aided the development of the sector. Thanks to venture capital money, the gaming companies are now looking to continue the growth trajectory even after the end of the pandemic.

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.

Established venture capital firms like Sequoia, Accel, Kallari, Blume, Steadview, Matrix have made significant investments in the sector. The sector has also seen new sector-specific entrants like Lukimai, Griffin Gaming.

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.

This month PM Modi earlier this month said the animation, visual effects, gaming, and comics (AVGC) sector offers immense potential to employ youth. “We need to promote AVGC to build domestic capacity for serving our markets and the global demand,” he said.

March Gaming, a key investor in Rooter, says their expectation is the platform leverages the robust infrastructure. “Over the next 12 months, we would like to see Rooter focus on scaling the business locally. There are currently over 7.6 million MAU (monthly active users), with the majority based in India. We could reasonably see Rooter growing to 3x scale by the end of 2022. After more scale has been acquired, the focus will switch to international expansion and improving monetisation levers,” Gregory Milken, managing partner of March Gaming was quoted in an article by Forbes India.

Esports have been included as medal events for the first time in the upcoming edition of the Asian Games with a total of 24 medals in eight titles. The list of titles announced in September includes the names of FIFA, Dota 2, and League of Legends. 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 addition of esports as medal events in the global multi-sports events is also expected to mainstream gaming culture in India.