It is very encouraging to see that the Union Budget has taken into consideration some of the long-pending suggestions for the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics (AVGC) sector while noting the strong potential this industry holds for employment generation as well as taking ‘Made in India’ game titles to the global markets.
Reports state that the online gaming industry has witnessed exponential growth during the past year. Investments in the sector increased more than 100 per cent to nearly $444 million in the calendar year 2021. India currently has nearly 350 million online gamers and out of them, more than 150,000 are professional gamers.
The sport generates a viewership of approximately 17 million, a figure that continues to rise. We have also seen, in the last few years, how the growth of the esports and online skill gaming industry has had a trickle-down effect on allied sectors such as animation, VFX, broadcasting. The growth of the digital gaming sector has resulted in thousands of new job roles in animation, visual effects, software development, among others.
Therefore, the Government’s proposal to set up an AVGC Promotion Task Force is a big step towards providing a fillip to this burgeoning industry. This announcement highlights the need to build capacity to serve both domestic and global markets, which enable the industry to take digital games made in India to the world.
India, the fourth-largest online gaming market globally, is poised to reach a $2 billion mark by 2023, according to a recent EY report. While demand for skill games is at an all-time high, its growth is dependent on the digitisation of other industries such as online education and entertainment. At the same time, the inclusion of esports in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 and Asian Games 2022 has made the sport even more popular.
The strong focus on technology-driven development for multiple sectors, coupled with the proposal to enable people in the hinterlands to use e-services is also a strong indicator of the impetus that the government is willing to provide for its growth.
It is also heartening to see the government’s commitment to work with the industry, allowing for a balanced approach that accommodates the needs of all stakeholders and strengthens the ecosystem holistically.
A progressive tax regime, predictable regulatory framework and supportive funding policies will allow the industry to compete on the world stage and fulfil the honourable Prime Minister’s vision for the Indian digital gaming sector to be a global powerhouse. Moreover, it will also help develop a workforce of young and employable AVGC professionals to usher in the next tech revolution from within India.
The Budget rightly mentions that promoting the digital economy and sunrise sectors will be a priority in the next 25 years (75 to 100 years of India’s Independence)—the Amrit Kaal of India. With a renewed focus on the AVGC sector, blended financing for deep tech and IT, hardware and electronics manufacturing combined with the deployment of 5G and affordable internet in underserved areas, it is clear that the government is committed to taking the Indian startup ecosystem to the next level.
We are confident that with the positive support of the government, the coming years will see online gaming, VFX and esports startups leading the charge in the global economy. By developing deep tech intellectual property and exporting services, they can help cement India’s position as a world leader in the sector.
The article is written by Sai Srinivas, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mobile Premier League.