While 2020 had a downward effect on almost all industries, one sector which has particularly come out stronger on an accelerated growth curve is gaming & esports. Prior to the pandemic, esports was already a booming industry in India and across the world Following the ensuing lockdowns across the country, people turned towards mobile and online offerings to explore their skills, which saw esports boom as gaming platforms brought multiple games on a single app for gamers to experience.
The Indian Esports Industry Is Seeing Rapid Growth
According to reports, the Indian Esports industry is emerging as one of the most lucrative markets in recent times and ranks at no.17 globally with an estimated net worth of $818 million and is expected to generate revenue up to $118.8 billion by 2023. The growing popularity of esports in India can also be attributed to the deeper penetration of mobile phones in tier 2 and 3 cities, where brands have seen a considerable surge in downloads, participation in tournaments, playtime, and viewership.
Further, more and more Indians have seen the potential esports has with platforms where they can show off their gaming talents, and are taking this passion to the next level in their competitive journey. As a result, not only has esports become a fun source of entertainment, but also one that can be rewarding.
While esports were traditionally played on PCs, there has been a transition and significant uptick in mobile devices being used. The increased availability of cheaper smartphones in the country as well as gamers’ preference to use mobile devices has greatly fuelled the growth of mobile gaming.
The Role Of The Pandemic In Furthering This Trend
A Black Swan event such as the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have given a boost to online gaming platforms as potential avenues for brands and marketers. According to reports, COVID-19-related restrictions triggered a 300%-400% surge in online gaming advertising and sponsorship. Esports also piqued the interest of high-end and aspirational brands who recognised its potential and reach and invested in advertising on mobile gaming platforms to connect with audiences. The lines were also blurred between online and offline gaming, as esports brands invested in large scale sporting tournaments in India and abroad, to reach a wider section of fans, and tap into previously unexplored markets, a move that was practically unheard of pre-pandemic.
Looking forward, as we near the end of the pandemic as we have known it, with global vaccination drives, and resumption of economic activities, the practical outlook would be a decline in the average time spent on mobile gaming. However, the ball has already been set rolling, and esports has already cemented its position as a favoured choice of entertainment and employment in various capacities. Today we stand at the cusp of something truly great; India as a potential global leader in esports. Greater awareness and love for gaming has led many to view esports as more than a mere activity for passing time. Among the tens of millions who play games online, a growing number of players are earning as professional gamers. Just as every young cricketer fantasizes about becoming the next Dhoni or Sachin, Indian gamers are now looking at the possibility of being the next big esports superstar.
The author is Sai Srinivas, Co-founder and CEO, Mobile Premier League (MPL).