Over the last five years, the eSports industry in India has seen significant growth. As the Indian middle-class gains rapid access to better technology at an affordable price, online gaming, professional eSports, and mobile gaming is becoming a burgeoning industry with opportunities galore for esports companies like AFK Gaming, Nodwin Gaming, and Nazara Technologies.
In this article, we talk about what eSports is, why it is so prevalent in Western countries and whether or not Indian gamers will ever reach standards as high as their Chinese/Western counterparts.
eSports are video games played competitively on a scale as high as international, typically by pro players. Millions of amateur gamers worldwide enjoy watching them online or in physical stadiums.
This large number of players, spectators and frequent competitions have put eSports at par with any other traditional sport.
As a developing country, India has been lagging in eSports. Major factors are poor internet connectivity, high-priced computer peripherals (GPU, CPU, RAM) and a general public image that video games are somehow ‘harmful’ or ‘no do-gooders’.
However, the image has been changing now.
The Indian gaming industry, valued at $543.08 million in 2017, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.61%, according to a CII report.
We have about 10 million serious PC gamers, and at least 30% of our youth engage in online gaming at least once daily. India had an estimated 198 million mobile gamers in 2015, and it is projected to reach about 1.2 billion in 2030.
Many Indian pro gamers (Ishpreet “HuNtR” Singh Chadha (CS: GO) and Raunak “Crowley” Sen – Dota 2, to name a few), albeit not as famous as their foreign counterparts, have had good records in official eSports leagues.
Talking about games, popular eSports titles such as CounterStrike: Global Offensive, DOTA, FIFA, and perhaps most notably PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, better known as PUBG, have seen an increasing rise in popularity, especially PUBG Mobile.
There have been many new competitions in major cities like Delhi and Bangalore, and even colleges now host gaming events during their annual fests.
IIT Delhi, for example, hosted a PUBG Mobile event at its annual fest last month. Dew Arena is a league organised for major eSports titles and runs on the ESL India website. Frequent FIFA and CS: GO events take place at local gaming cafes.
Indian gaming startups like GamingMonk organise weekly online competitions that offer cash prizes and provide monthly or yearly leaderboards comparing gamers across the nation.
Pro-gaming isn’t your only opportunity to make money out of gaming. Gaming has also evolved into a spectator sport with many gamers and pro teams like JAGS and CarryMinati streaming gameplay, doing game reviews and more on popular platforms like YouTube and Twitch while making significant money through donations alone.
With about two million eSports viewers in India, which is expected to grow five times by 2021, eSports can also provide an excellent advertising platform for many companies.
Gaming Cafes also seem to have a lot of potential in India, especially in Tier 2 cities where many gamers don’t have access to proper hardware.
American tech giant NVIDIA estimates there’s potential for about 10-15,000 gaming cafes in India, which can employ around 75,000 people.
Apart from this, we have small-scale game studios which provide solutions for custom games in addition to graphic designers, hardware sellers and influencers who are on the rise thanks to social media and the rising awareness about the eSports scenario.
The gaming industry in India has come a long way but still has a long way to go to become a mainstay.