Why esports is the latest gaming frontier to conquer
Rajan Navani, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, JetSynthesys writes where esports is headed in India

Why esports is the latest gaming frontier to conquer

Rajan Navani, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, JetSynthesys writes where esports is headed in India
  • Esports has witnessed a massive growth in India over a short span of time. A recent EY report stated that the esports industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46% to touch ₹11 billion by 2025.
  • Rajan Navani, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, JetSynthesys writes on the state of esports in India and what opportunities lie ahead.
Young 23-year-old Tirth Mehta picked up his bags and flew to Jakarta back in 2018. Just another passenger, not a lot of people recognized the new athlete the Asian Games was going to see that year. His homecoming however was an elaborate celebration filled with politicians, prominent personalities, citizens, friends, and family congratulating him on winning the bronze in Hearthstone, the esports demonstration event at the Asian Games 2018, becoming India’s first esports medallist at the global tournament.

Cut to 2021, the gaming industry cheered for yet another win as esports would finally debut as an official medal sport at the 19th Asian Games 2022, a landmark event in the history of the gaming industry. Probably on the path to being recognized at the Olympics as well, the category has witnessed a massive growth over a short span of time. Even though a nascent industry, it is already pulling in the big bucks and contributing to India’s economy; something which especially came handy at a time when the world was hit with the biggest black swan event of the decade, the Covid-19 pandemic. A recent EY report stated that the esports industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46% to touch ₹11 billion by 2025. With the country's esports industry growing at a faster pace than the global esports industry, India is also concentrating on growing its prize pool which is expected to grow at 66% CAGR to reach ₹1 billion by 2025.

One of the major factors for this is that esports is no longer a metro phenomenon. In fact, for the first time in history, rural India has a higher internet penetration than metros with 227 million active internet users, which is 10% higher than urban India at 205 million, as per the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). This internet and mobile penetration helps bring a fragmented market together, making esports a major driving force for the gaming industry in India. Needless to say, it is up to the many stakeholders of the sector to ensure its bright future materialises so let’s promptly deep dive into the potential growth areas and the next steps for each.

First up are the players and the companies who make up the core ecosystem. The aforementioned EY report states that India has 1,50,000 players and around 60,000 teams currently and the number is expected to grow at 78% CAGR by 2025 to reach 1.5 million players and 250,000 teams. As esports becomes a viable profession, especially for the youth, brands operating in the space have their job cut out too – 1. make next-gen, compelling games which can engage Indian-origin sensibilities and sensitivities, and 2. motivate players through monetary incentives, recognition, and awards to train and play better. A special shoutout to Real Cricket here - the first Indian esports game the world will play and compete in!

Also, with esports cutting across borders, it has paved the way for vernacular content creators to connect with their community easily, and for gamers across the board to come to the centre-stage. In fact, esports competitions in India and internationally are now broadcasted in many Indian languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, and Punjabi apart from English to make the sport further accessible and inclusive across the length and breadth of the country. This growth will be further propelled by the increase in prize money, more games, localization, regional adaptation and growth of smartphone, laptop, and broadband infrastructure.

Government bodies will also play an instrumental role in taking esports in India to the next level by setting the right framework to promote participation. All of this and more will help people understand the depth behind this form of gaming, and also help sensitize parents about the virtues of esports as a viable career option. After all, it’s not just about those who actively play the sport but also about the trainers, coaches, casters, commentators, and many others who make up the support ecosystem. As a country, we are also steadily building the infrastructure for this industry with gaming houses and esports academies being created where players can train and spend time honing
their skills. Brands and companies are pumping in financial investments, and ramping up sponsorships, contributing to the largeness of the sport. Globally, Europe, USA and Korea are the leading market for esports, but India, with its huge player base and enthusiasm is catching up fast with the global biggies, carving out its own coveted niche.

Few months back, India saw the third edition of the Skyesports Championship record a concurrent viewership of 227K and 5 million one-day views, breaking viewership records and acting as a fantastic proof point for the high traction esports content generates already. Next year, as we compete in the Asian Games, one hopes this number will skyrocket even further, and more Tirth Mehtas will celebrate their moment under the sun.