ESPORTS — A Case for India

Fun | Funds | Bragging rights

It is difficult to talk about eSports these days without making a mention of these keywords. You go online and see lots of competitions and then you come to realise that it has, indeed, taken the world by storm. However, what is esports?

Esports

eSports is basically a short form of saying ‘electronic sports’. Normally, you take your football or baseball to the yard, field or court and engage with peers physically, in a bid to have fun. These games are usually engaging and fun-filled but this generation of kids and adults seem to prefer their sports without contact. Video games have come to garner so much importance and waves these days and they are still on the rise. You could go down memory lane to when you got your first game console. You remember how you felt! Today however these games have taken a better shape and organization as more players are creating competitions to play against each other individually and as teams. The good sides of esports includes fostering the spirit of sportmanship and skills with relation to communication and teamwork.

Backdrop of esports in India

In world affairs, today India is coming up as a major world player in almost all sectors of technology and finance. Despite the US, China, Russia, UK and European Union running the state of affairs, they need not rest on their laurels as a resurgent India comes out of the trenches with devastating speed to take its place with the big guns. With a population of over 1.4 billion people, they have the human capital to drive. Statistics have shown that over 600 million Indians have access to the internet.

To put this into perspective, that is about two times the entire population of the United States of America. This has placed them as the second largest users of the internet behind China. Statistics from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) show that the esports sector was worth around $35.36 million in 2021 and is projected to rise to $128.89 million by 2025.

Making these claims would be predicated on a few factors and we would look at some of the factors that have had an effect on the rising esports industry in India.

Factors fostering esports in India

So many factors have a direct effect on the growth of esports within the Indian space and they are not farfetched. We would take a look at them in very simple fashion to see how they have caused these effects.

Affordable data

To play traditional games like football, chess, tennis and cricket, players just needed the balls, boards, courts and bats respectively. All you had to do was show up and start playing. Then came video games which require just a power source to connect to. You brought your Nintendo back then and all you had to do was plug into a power source and start playing. Data services then came with the advent of the internet and a whole lot of activities have been found to take place online. In India, the internet is almost everywhere. The fact that it is now cheap and affordable has helped increase the need to develop more games and apps that users can enjoy. This has made India a safe haven for esports as data is readily available and cheap also.

4G to 5G network

It is one thing to have data and another thing to have fast data speeds. It is safe to say that games and esports constitute the largest consumers of data. The thing with esports and online games is that it is not just about the availability of data but also the quality of data. Both esports and online games have high-quality graphics and the need for real-time communication (e.g in games like PUBG), require the internet connection to be pretty fast and smooth. India is bordering on 5G technology which will allow these esports to have better streaming and downloading speeds and in turn bring more and more gamers on-board. Telecom Giants Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio are at the forefront of 5G rollout in India and you can already guess what will be the effect on a spot in India.

Smartphones

Almost everyone wants to have a smartphone. Even kids in high school already have smartphones. This is not different to India where over 54% of the population have access to smartphones. This is expected to rise to over 90% at the current rate within the next 15 years. The Economic Times have it that India constitutes the highest consumers of mobile data with a rate of 12GB of data per user in a month. A large proportion of these are youths who spend much of their time playing games. If there is any reason why the esports industry is booming today it is largely due to the large number of smartphone owners in India.

Covid-19 Lockdown

When covid-19 struck in late 2019, it felt like the end of the world. Most cities were shut down and citizens were forced to stay indoors and work from home. We had to stay away from people and this increased our online presence. It’s fair to say that while many sectors including traditional sports suffered down times during the pandemic, the esports sector did not only survive but it grew exponentially during that time. You definitely were not getting a flu by connecting with your fellow Indian gamers over the internet while sitting in your different rooms. This also made audiences available to gamers as everyone was at home and we were all looking for the next fun spot or the next esports competition to cheer

Employment opportunities

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned “funds” and one would reek of delusion if he doesn’t know that the financial upsides of gaming has very much increased the esports adoption within India. People play games for fun just like sports but everything is becoming monetized and as such, esports have not been left behind. Today we have professional esports players who earn a decent income from playing. Earning from esports comes in many forms. You could earn as an active gamer with these pro-gamers earning up to $60,000 a year. You could also earn by having a blog or a livestream that covers esports events and tournaments thereby giving you steady streams of earnings in the form of advertisments and endorsements. With the state of the world economy, that is an easy way out for top-tier earnings while doing the things you love. This in itself has increased esports adoption in India.

Esports sponsorship

Sponsorships are actually business decisions and these decisions are taken for various reasons. They are an integral part of esports and would be here for the long term. The amount of viewership or audience that these esports games garner has made big companies to see them as a fertile ground to advertise their products. These deals are so huge and would only get bigger as more and more tournaments arise. These big money moves have kept the growth of esports in India for an exponential. Some of the top sponsors so far include Nodwin Gaming & Airtel, Paytm First Games, NVIDIA, PepsiCo, IndiGG amongst others.

Betting

Whenever you see sports, you see betting and esports have not been left out. Most Indians see betting as an alternative income and this has ensured a continuous flow of funds within the broader esports community in India.

The future we see

The state of esports in India is healthy for now and the ground is very fertile for more upward growth as there are currently no laws or sanctions against esports in the country. The government will even seek to utilise the esports economy to its advantage as they continue to pile pressure on other IT Giants in the world. The year 2022 would seem to be the least year in terms of numbers (revenue, growth, adoption) as the millennials are taking over. The opportunities are huge. With the advent of new technology like machine learning and artificial intelligence, we’d be seeing more effective and enjoyable eSports experience. Add that to the role of the media in the world today, you’d see it’s an upward ride into the sunset. Please bring more supplies because we will be there for a long time.

Thanks for the read

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