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The COVID-19 outbreak has hit the world so badly that every industry is brought to a halt. The sports industry is no exception. Throughout the world of professional sports, many sports leagues and tournaments have either been postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic whether at domestic or international level. This was something demotivating for the sportive spirits out there and this was where “E-sports” came to rescue. E-sport is basically a digital form of sport that has a play-from-home format, where players play in virtual space. Such E-sport competitions are booming right now with high numbers of players and audience participating as they are considered safe and secured. Currently, the e-sports industry is seen as the rapidly growing industry that has a high economic value. This is what we’re going to explore in detail through this article. Let’s throw some light on the future of esports in India.

In recent years, e-sports have become so widely popular that it has gained recognition in international sporting events like the Asian Games. Today’s consumer does not just want to watch the games, they also want to participate. They expect to be digitally engaged while they watch sports and the most effective way to deliver digital engagement is esports! This is why a huge crowd is attracted towards popular e-games like Call of Duty, League of Legends, DOTA 2, FIFA, Counter-strike, StarCraft II, Rocket League, Pubg and lot more.

A survey was conducted by the PricewaterhouseCoopers with 1001 participants aged 14-35. The results obtained are as follows:

  • They found that 80.6% of respondents play video games more or less regularly
  • Further, 73.9% of the respondents knew the term ‘eSport’, of which 3% were professional eSports players and 29.2% were non-professional eSports players. 

This serves as a proof for the widespread popularity of esports. E-sports is not only limited to the players but also attracts a large number of spectators. Yes, the esports events are streamed through online platforms such as YouTube and this attracts a large number of spectators as well. 

COVID-19 pandemic popularized the e-sports industry!

What’s particularly interesting about the e-sports phenomenon during this pandemic is the surge in popularity. As the traditional sports are paused for the moment, the crowd is flocking towards e-sports. Migration of traditional athlete to online streaming platforms can be seen. Further, kids in schools and players of league teams are moving to online gaming to continue social interaction and competition. Even, corporates are choosing the option of conducting E-sports in their organisations to keep employee engagement alive digitally. This is how esports industry found a way to surge in the middle of a pandemic!

E-sports in India

Coming to the core point, it’s time to discuss the future as well as the current status of the e-sports industry in India.

According to Forbes India report in 2018, China has the largest e-gaming market in the world (with total revenue of$37.9 billion), followed by the US, Japan and Korea. This depicts the huge potential in the e-sports market and India needs to tap into that space.

Gradually, Indian e-sports industry is flourishing as well. In 2010, India had only 25 game developers and that number has gone up to 250 today. In recent years, our country has witnessed multiple e-sports startups, namely JetSynthesys, Cobx Gaming, FanMojo, and Nodwin Gaming and so on. As of 2019, Indian e-sports industry stands at rank 17 globally.

Further, inspiration can be drawn from 24-year old Tirth Mehta from Gujarat, who created history by winning the country’s first-ever e-sports medal at Asian Games 2018, coming third and winning bronze in the collectable card-based video game tournament called Hearthstone. Thus, we can hope for a promising e-sports future in India.

The Indian e-sports industry is set to grow into a staggering $1.1 billion industry and with revenue of INR 43.8 billion in FY18 which is believed to increase to INR 118.8 billion in 2023. Further, with over 2 million fans and 2 million occasional viewers, the Indian fan base for e-sports is slowly and steadily picking up the pace too. With an ever-expanding market, the number of global e-sports giants like APUS, Yoozoo Games, Tencent games and a lot more companies are setting up shop in India and investing millions of dollars into the industry.

Conclusion

Both financially and in terms of viewership India has become a leading destination for e-sports planners to organize big gaming events such as Indian Gaming League, ESL Gaming etc. Acer, the market leader in PC gaming in India, every year organizes Asia’s biggest e-sports tournament known as the “Acer Predator Gaming League”. Alongside Acer, HyperX has been associated with ESL India Premiership League, which is the biggest tournament for e-sports in the country. 

All of these denote a bright e-gaming future of India. On a global scale, India has just started and has already shown the potential of becoming a top country in e-sports! Let’s wait and see how it performs and how soon it reaches the top.