Ishaan Arya is the cofounder, head of business development and content at The Esports Club. He is a veteran of the gaming industry. Ishaan started his career as a content creator and writer and led ‘Just Another Gaming Site’ JAGS- one of the top portals at the time. Under his leadership, JAGS became India’s first dedicated gaming YouTube and Livestream channels making Ishaan, India’s first live streamer. During the time he was at the helm of JAGS, he also wrote articles about gaming and technology for the Deccan Chronicle. After leaving JAGS, he worked with leading brands by assisting them with consumer engagement, digital content, and eventually, online and offline gaming and e- sports campaigns.
The easy accessibility to and affordability of internet, as well as, rapid proliferation of smartphones have birthed many revenue-generating individuals and businesses across various sectors, online gaming being one of them. Esports is a rapidly growing segment that has fascinated millennials like never before. The industry is experiencing significant growth in India with many Indian digital gaming start-ups creating their footprints globally.
Further, as Indians’ interest in building and participating in leagues for Cricket, Football, Kabaddi, Badminton and many other sports is increasing; investors are targeting the sector for its future prospects.
Rise of Esports and Drivers of Growth
The Indian online gaming industry is on the cusp of fundamental transformation, shifting from casual mobile games to professional video gaming and competitive esports. The immense popularity of games like Pubg Mobile, Free Fire, Valorantm CS:GO etc. has brought esports to the mainstream in India which is a vibrant mix of new and old gamers as well as amateurs and professionals alike. Growth in the Indian gaming industry is fuelled by evolving needs in social interaction, a growing youth population base and enhanced connectivity. The growing industry offers a multitude of opportunities for user engagement and direct monetisation.
According to Esports in India: Market Landscape Report 2020 by Inc42 Plus, the aggregate revenue of esports companies in India reached $68 Million in FY 2020. Also, the revenue is expected to grow by CAGR 36% in the next 3 years. With a wide range of entertainment as well as career options across online media platforms, the Indian esports industry represents a significant avenue for growth. The tremendous scope for innovation and growth allows Indian innovators to access this tide and generate significant revenue.
The support of demographic fit and internet penetration is one thing but esports and online gaming market in India has also been driven by many other factors as listed below:
- Smartphone Penetration
According to Statista, the number of smartphone users in India is estimated to increase by over 760 million in 2021. The growing demand for internet services for communication, entertainment and information through social media, OTT platforms etc. apps have paved way for segments like esports in India. Also, with increasing penetration of smartphones across the country, esports is growing beyond expectations.
- Increasing Investments
The online gaming boom has resulted in a million dollar investment into Indian gaming start-ups, setting an investment record. According to Venture Intelligence, since April 2020, venture capital funds have invested $438 million in Indian gaming start-ups.
- Emergence of Esports Cafes
Esports cafes are an emerging trend which is triggered by the rapid growth of the gaming industry in India. In addition to the demand for smartphones, gaming gear and good internet connectivity; online gaming fanatics also prefer a gaming environment where they are facilitated while playing as well as get a chance to network with like-minded gamers. Esports cafes not only allow people to play games without owning the requisite hardware but also, it helps them build a competitive mentality through amateur tournaments.
Growth Acceleration Due to Pandemic
While the industry was growing at a relatively glacial pace till late 2019, the unprecedented changes brought in by the pandemic accelerated it further. There has been a fundamental shift in the way people socialise online and consume content. According to a BARC & Nielsen report, the number of mobile gaming users per week grew to 68% during the lockdown from 60% in pre-Covid times. Similarly, the time spent on mobile games per user per week increased to 218 minutes during the lockdown from 151 minutes before the lockdown.
The pandemic has shown that Indian gamers have the propensity to not only engage but also, spend. With higher player engagement in most esports platforms, it is expected to boost the esports economy by high margins. Further, esports gaming is not only expected to grow in revenue and value but also, there will be sustained developments in content, technology, content, and genres.
Owing to a steady rise in consumption volumes, traditionally pure-play service providers and local companies are expanding to develop end to end games. Surely! esports has a promising potential going forward. Already on a rise, esports will be used as a platform by professional gamers to showcase and enhance their skills and earn rewards.
The future of esports segment in Indian will witness an ecosystem of engaged gamers, creative designers, developers and marketers with a good amount of investments pouring into the industry and production of locally themed games.