When you think of popular sports in India, the first images that probably come into your mind is probably people playing cricket, or maybe some people enjoying a game of football – sports that require athletic ability and skill to play well. However, you might be surprised to hear that eSports is quickly becoming one of India’s most popular forms of competition and entertainment. Though eSports in India is still in a nascent stage, it is believed that over the next few years the industry will grow considerably and will, believe it or not, rival popular sports such as cricket.
eSports Are a Huge Entertainment Sector
Across the world, eSports and other types of game are the biggest entertainment sector, dwarfing the revenue of other industries such as music and movies. With the likes of Sergio Aguero and David Beckham entering the eSports world, it is definitely evolving into the largest investment sector in content and entertainment.
India is following the trend as well with the number of eSport tournaments and viewers increasing quite dramatically over the last couple of years. India was rather late to the world of eSports gaming, but the younger generation has grown a huge passion for it and, as a result, India is now considered to be a country with a lot of gaming potential. In fact, there are many who feel that India will be the major eSports hub within a decade. Everyone will want a slice of the Indian eSports pie before long.
At the time of writing, China has the biggest gaming market on the planet, raking in around $40 billion every year. This is followed closely by the likes of Japan, US, and Korea. India currently rakes in anywhere between $1-1.5 billion, but this figure is increasing with each passing year.
In 2010, there were only 25 game developers in India, and now there are more than 250 with more being added to this list with each passing year. Corporate giants such as Tencent, Alibaba, Nazara, and Paytm have all been investing heavily in India lately, which is now one of the top countries in the world when it comes to mobile gaming.
Why Do Indians Love eSports?
Well, if there is one thing that Indians love to do it is bet, and most of the time they do not really care what they are betting on, so long as they have a chance to win money and are being entertained. Betting on eSports is entertaining as there are so many different markets that you can bet on such as the match winner, the player or team that will get the first kill, and the team that will win a particular map. There are also plenty of different games to enjoy, with the leading ones being the likes of League of Legends, DOTA 2, and CS:GO.
Indians are mad about betting on cricket, and the following figures will give you a good idea as to how much Indians love to bet on it. We spoke to Aryan Agarwal, the chief editor of cricketonlinebetting.in, one of India’s biggest cricket betting comparison sites, and he told us that Indians bet an estimated $150 billion every year on cricket on India’s illegal betting market. Believe it or not, but it is estimated that there is around $200 million bet on every ODI game that is played.
Although Indians love to bet on cricket, there will not always be cricket matches being played to bet on, and when this is the case, Indians will need something else to keep them thoroughly entertained and it would seem that many are choosing eSports as that new means of entertainment.
eSports As a Career for Indians
The nationwide lockdown across India to try and slow the spread of Covid-19 was responsible for giving eSports in India an unexpected boost. With all outdoor activities and other modes of entertain shut down, gaming became the only option left for people to get some type of mental stimulation – there is only so much Netflix that a person can watch.
As different eSports platforms registered increased numbers and viewership, there was an increase in revenue for players and organisers. With all sports leagues halted, a number of sporting stars turned to eSports as a means to keep in touch with their fans, and by doing this they helped to introduce a whole new audience to the gaming and eSports world.
The cheap prices of smartphones and data has led to millions of Indians enjoying games on their mobile devices and wanting more and more content. This helped to develop the best conditions for an eSports ecosystem to thrive. Nowadays, these enthusiastic gamers are becoming fans of different eSport games and teams across India. At the moment, those who are playing as professional gamers in India are getting a small salary hen compared to their other professional gamers in the EU, US, Korea, and Japan.
This is mostly due to the current unorganized eSports industry across India as there are not many game publishers that are working alongside organisers to establish and develop lasting competitive chances to Indian teams and players. Despite this, eSports opportunities, however limited they are at the moment, are not only for those that play.
While players are the ones that help to make eSports exciting to watch, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that is vital to ensure that an eSports league runs smoothly. An eSports tournament could not go ahead without producers, designers, editors, make-up artists, videographers, analysts, statisticians, and casters. There are more opportunities behind the scenes for those who want a career in the gaming world.
While there are plenty of opportunities, the short-term vision of organizers means that there are only a few secure and salaried options in the Indian eSports world at the moment. However, this is a trend that is slowly changing as more and more companies invest in long-term projects that will help develop India’s eSports ecosystem, making it a lot more inviting for aspiring players and teams. This will then help to create job opportunities for other vital positions in the eSports world.
At this moment in time, there is a need for a much better understanding of eSports in India, so more people can choose a career in this industry, which is not just for the players. While Indian parents try to adjust to sports that are not cricket, eSports still have quite a long way to go. However, we believe that it will reach its full potential eventually and when it does the opportunities for Indians will be plenty.