The Indian esports industry was worth Rs 3 billion in FY2021 and expects to touch Rs 11 billion by FY2025, according to a report by FICCI-EY. Titled ‘Ready. Set. Game On!’ the report highlights how by creating over 11,000 jobs, esports will generate around Rs 100 billion of economic value for India between 2021 and 2025, comprising investments, in-app purchases, winnings, taxes and related consumption. Apart from specialising in gaming skills and game theory, the esports industry also creates opportunities in the field of event management, ethical and legislative laws, game design, esports marketing and league management.
As per the report, it is estimated that India has 1.5 lakh players and around 60,000 teams. As esports becomes a viable profession for the youth, the number of players playing esports is expected to reach 1.5 million by FY25. Further, over 90% esports players participate in online mobile esports tournaments. An EY India survey of over 1,100 smartphone users, indicated that out of every eight people, one user participates in esports tournaments for every six people who play social games. As for publishers and developers, currently, about 4% of mobile games on the Play Store are from Indian publishers. As Indian game developers transition from developing social games to multiplayer games, Indian developers are expected to create games that are better suited for esports tournaments this is supported by the fact that the number of Indian gaming studios have grown 5x since 2015.
The esports industry is also attracting a large viewership as the tournaments grow more competitive. There were over 14 esports broadcast platforms in 2020, this is expected to cross 20 platforms by 2025. While current viewership is 17 million, over 85 million unique viewers will watch esports tournaments in the country by 2025, comprising nearly 10% of global esports viewership. As viewership grows, brand sponsorship also takes flight. Over 50 brands, including Airtel, Bookmyshow.com, Flipkart, Monster Energy Drinks, Asus, Redbull and Yes Bank have forayed into the esports industry over the past few years. While it is still at a nascent stage, its constantly growing audience base makes esports a growing favourite amongst brands and advertisers.
The report also threw light on how the esports industry will induce income in parallel and complementary industries, while changing social dynamics in the country and creating new jobs for many. Esports received nearly Rs 13 billion investments in the past five years and is expected to clock another Rs 34 billion by FY25. “Investors often seek companies that have a single identified proposition. Therefore, esports or real money fantasy are much more appealing to investors. As the demand for more diverse and intricate games grows in India, Indian developers are shifting to create more unique and complex games meant for multiplayer competitive tournaments,” the report stated.
However, the esports industry will be able to reach and surpass its potential with the support of government. The Government of India, as well as the state governments, can help the industry become a world leader by organizing tournaments and cooperating with
global counterparts, thereby generating esports player traffic into India. The government can help promote partnerships and exchange programmes with counterparts from leading countries of the world. Further, the need of the hour is to change the mindset regarding the esports industry. In some cases, esports tends to get confused with gambling and betting, which relate to games of chance. A transparent bilateral communication between the government and the industry stakeholders will foster trust that will help stakeholders pursue the
industry more fiercely, drawing in higher growth. The government of India should create an esports policy that defines esports and recognises an appropriate body that has regulatory domain of the industry. The report suggests that this body should be recognised by the Indian Olympic Association and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. A sports body would help give direction and support while keeping the industry in check.