Beginning of new era for e-sports in India

Gaming becomes serious business in India

Business

December 3, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Beginning of new era for e-sports in India

Foreseeing e-sports boom in India, number of investors are lining up (MIG Photo/Aman Kanojiya)

E-sports have become immensely popular in India, riding on the back of high mobile penetration as well as extremely low data rates, allowing millions of fans, mainly youth, to try their hand at gaming. The industry is expected to grow further rapidly with large-scale investments by numerous firms including Tencent, Nazara, Alibaba and Paytm.

On December 1, 16 teams from around the world gathered in Berlin to participate in the Valorant 2021 Champions Tour (VCT) where they have been testing their mettle in e-sports in order to claim not just the championship, but also the prize money of USD 1 million. Though India does not feature in the championship right now, the way the popularity of e-sports has been growing in India and the entry of several deep-pocketed  investors in this sphere could mean that there would be Indian entries at the next edition of this championship.

Since the release of Players Unknown Battle Grounds or PUBG (an online free-to-play battle royale game) in 2018, the popularity of e-sports has increased even further, with many expert players, who go with assumed names like Scout or Mortal, streaming their games online to allow others to see and learn.

Realising the market opportunity in India, Chinese tech giants such as Tencent and Alibaba as well as several Indian companies have begun investing e-sports to develop new games here, catering to the Indian audience. As a result, Indian e-sports market has grown to USD 3 billion and is expected to shoot to INR 11 billion by 2025, says E&Y, a consultancy. It goes on to say that the number of developers is expected to balloon from 25 to 250 and estimates the number of players to shoot to 1.5 million by then, with 85 million others joining in as viewers.

The consultancy also expects the share of Indian games to rise significantly over the next three years. It says that currently about 4 pc of mobile games on the Play Store are by Indian publishers. The number of Indian gaming studios have grown 5-fold since 2015 and there are over 14 esports broadcast platforms, which are expected to cross 20 platforms by 2025.

India made its presence felt in the world of e-sports in 2019, when it hosted the widely viewed PUBG Mobile Series (a tournament for PUBG players) and the E-Sports League (ESL) for the game DOTA 2 (A free-to-play online multiplayer 5 versus 5 game).

The Covid-19 pandemic was a boon in disguise for this industry. With people locked in their homes for the better share of the year, an increase of 60 pc was recorded in the number of players using their smartphones for gaming.

E-commerce and the betterment of internet services in the country also have been major contributors to the industry’s development. Not only esports for mobile gaming but PC gaming is also gaining a lot of attention.

Currently, a new game Valorant, developed by Riot Games (publisher of League of Legends or more commonly known as League) is captivating the markets worldwide along with India. With Valorant, or rather its games, becoming increasingly popular with Indian consumers, a number of new streamers such as Zishu, Solo and HydraFlick have gained traction in the world of e-sports.

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