India, as a mobile-first country, has established itself as a viable location for pursuing a career in the gaming sector
Gone are the days when gaming was considered merely a past time. With the advent of new technologies, evolved graphic processing units and easy access to smartphones capable of running games in moderate settings, the gaming sector is seeing the rise of a new kind of sport; Esports. The concept of Esports is not new and the first ever competitive gaming was on black and white computers back in the 1970s. Fast forward 30 years, and the evolution of online gaming has accelerated this Esports business. Today, the competitions have become a global event, thanks to the creation of more powerful games consoles and high-speed internet. Moreover, Esports industry revenue is nearing INR 3 Billion for FY21 and is expected to reach INR 11 Billion by 2025. Both the International and the Indian gaming sector has witnessed exponential growth during the lockdown period, especially the local market. The diversity and user base in India has made it a crucial market for gaming companies to expand various categories. The overall revenue generation from the in-app purchases and advertising is of larger value especially in the Indian region. For instance, third person shooting games like Call of Duty, Free Fire, Fortnite, BGMI have a large enough loyal user base so that brands go out of their way to attract and retain these users.
India’s Gaming Market, a revenue mine: What Worked.
Since the Jio wave back in 2016, internet usage and smartphone user base have increased dramatically. Today, OTT and gaming sectors are becoming key revenue generation platforms for businesses as the country develops pace and improves its digital infrastructure with 5G, high-speed internet, and consumers who make informed decisions about what they want to watch or play. Before 2016, India was a country with arcade game technology where games like subway surfer, bowling alley etc. were the prime source of entertainment and pass time. Back then, the sector was evolving with new technologies that came at a higher cost, making the phone expensive in the process. Chinese players such as Xiaomi, on the other hand, changed the smartphone landscape for the better by introducing mid-range smartphones capable of running heavy games on low or moderate settings at a price as low as Rs. 12,000. This eventually laid the foundation of the Indian gaming ecosystem and the launch of third person shooter games along with other open world games that changed this gaming landscape forever.
Today, gaming is viewed as a career choice with brands having dedicated teams to leverage screen time. In-app purchases are becoming a successful model for gaming companies to generate higher ROI. For Instance, World’s most difficult game ‘Getting Over It’ generates approximately $150K-$280K monthly from India itself. Similarly, games like Counter Strike 1.6 have also witnessed a huge user base with significant in app purchases ranging from Rs. 100 to Rs. 3.5 lakhs.
Streamers making E-sports popular: Influencer marketing has started playing a pivotal role in enhancing the popularity of products and brands. Similarly, in the gaming sector, YouTube has been the game changer for games. YouTube as a platform has one of the largest user-base globally and is also viewed as a search engine for video walkthroughs. Gaming walkthroughs have generated millions of views as they mostly help the user either cross the level more efficiently or just to witness how games are played. For instance, racing games like NFS, Stealth games like Splinter Cell or open world games like Grand Theft Auto have one thing in common; high viewership on YouTube. Additionally, live streamers have made third person shooter games more popular. Indian players like Scout, Mythpat, CarryMinati have been the trendsetters for the E-sports sector in India garnering Millions of views on their streams and gaming videos. These videos create a need state and an urge in viewers to download and play the game and also at times provide the opportunity to play with these known YouTubers. Additionally, many players are drawn to these esports games by the prize pool and become casual/social game players, with others making in-app purchases to tailor their gaming experience. The prize pool technique was employed by PUBG to encourage consumers to play the game. Growth in the prize pool remains one of the most important factors and incentives for attracting new serious players.
Gaming becoming a career choice:
Around the last decade, think tanks from all over the world have studied the scope and scalability of gaming. With lockdown, gaming became a popular avenue to passive income, large majority of gamers also understood that mobile gaming may be viewed as a source of money and a lucrative business, in addition to being a fun activity.
India, as a mobile-first country, has now established itself as a viable location for pursuing a career in the gaming sector. According to a research by HP India, more than 90% of individuals believe that working in the gaming sector is potentially a good career choice. The HP India Gaming Landscape Report polled 1,500 people between the ages of 15 and 40 in 25 metros, tier-1, and tier-2 cities across India. According to the poll conducted between March and April 2021, 84 percent of all female individuals intend to pursue gaming as a career, followed by 80 percent of male individuals, Gen X (91 percent), and School Students (88 percent). 84% of individuals from tier II cities were more likely to choose gaming as a career than the metro cities which stood at 78%. The potential for eSports are limitless, thanks to continuous innovation and growth.
Future of E-sports in India, will the momentum sustain:
India’s technology and data infrastructure has grown exponentially over time. With 5G on the horizon and the pandemic reminding people of the need of having an alternate source for income, the gaming industry is set to dominate job prospects in India and abroad. This is true not only from the perspective of gamers, but also in terms of the equipment required to support the entire digital ecosystem. For example, gamers now have started creating a team of people who can oversee the content that goes on the channel and help them make it more interactive and engaging. Everything from articulating the video to editing and post production presents a job opportunity across verticals. Moreover, quite a few tech YouTubers have started hiring people for their research and logistics team. UnboxTherapy, TechBurner are prime examples for creating team that helps them in creating quality content that is YouTube based. In the last five years, about INR 13 billion has been invested in esports, with another INR 34 billion predicted by FY 2025.
Furthermore, the Esports prize money pool in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 66% to reach INR 1 billion. While nearly 85% of esports prize money will be allocated for mobile Esports tournaments, the PC Esports prize pool is growing at 80% CAGR from INR 8 million to INR 150 million owing to the work from home and school from home lifestyle. Growth in the prize pool remains one of the most important factors and incentives for attracting new serious players. With all these developments, Esports tournaments are growing more competitive and the growth prospects in the sector are here to stay.
As Esports tournaments grow more competitive, they continue to draw more viewership and support from players and the audience. For instance, the PUBG Mobile World League 2020 East was one of the bigger tournaments of the Asian continent. The Hindi-language broadcast of the same attracted 449 thousand peak viewers. It only goes to show that the entire Esports ecosystem is ready to explode with exponential opportunities for all stakeholders, especially as a fast-emerging career choice of the future.
The Author is Samrat Das Gupta, Head – Marketing, Microgravity