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Esports industry expected to reach $3 bn by 2021

It is the sport of the new generation.

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MUMBAI: When everything is going online, what’s there to stop sports? With improved internet speed, smartphone penetration, government digital push and highest youth population, Esports in India has the right territory for growth.

In the third edition of Times of India Global Sports Show (GSS) 2018, industry experts came together to discuss about “Unlocking potential: The eSports revolution in India”.

The state of esports industry over the next three to five years is estimated to grow by 5.3 per cent in Asia and 9.4 per cent in Middle East and Africa (ME&A) according to PwC Sports Survey 2018.

Esports is a subculture that is just growing. It is the sport of the new generation. In India, it is played on multiple platforms like Voot, Hotstar, Youtube and Twitch.

Tencent GM Aneesh Arvind said, “Once you have a large enough mass in a region or a country then I would think it’s a matter of time to really become big. The three things we can do from our side to make it really popular are the infrastructure, devices and data where people can play and watch others play.

The recent sensational game made by Tencent Games is PlayerUnknown’s Battleground’s (PUBG) Mobile, which has crossed 100 million downloads.

“We have such a large player base in India that all the assumptions we used to have in the gaming industry doesn’t hold true anymore. We have built the game and the ecosystem around it by doing TV commercials, advertisement in different media, got influencers on board,” Arvind added.

U Sports AVP-brands and partnerships Tushaar Garg said that esports was the first they spotted when they looked for new investment. “The first season of UCypher was to create awareness and created a docu-drama series format. We looked at two thing that is the big massive fan base in terms of demographics as we have a very young population below the age of 35 and biggest smartphone market after the US. We took the most popular title like DOTA, Tekken and Counter-Strike.”

“We packaged UCypher in such a way that the actual user gets tri-fold offering i.e., career, content and community and with that, we also looked at how we can mass-ify it,” Garg added.

Esports for the first time became a part of a major sporting event in 2018 Asian Games Jakarta as a demonstration sports. This was announced by Asian Esports Federation (AESF). 10 Indian gamers qualified for the event.

According to Tencent, Esports is a video game, which is played competitively with rewards attached to it and an ecosystem where people are ready to watch that.

Nodwin Gaming MD Akshat Rathee asked the panel whether it a monetisation time or a growth time for esports in India to which Garg said, “I think for us it is an investment time. As a company which is building IPs we are very clear that for the next 3-5 year time frame we have to invest in the fan base, create the infrastructure getting the right stakeholder and the right federations.”

According to UK-based Juniper Research, the advertising spend will dominate in terms of revenue and spend (accounting for 50 per cent in 2022).

In 2018, the market size of esports is supposed to be $900 million and in 2021 it is likely to reach $3 billion. “We as the esports industry are trying to figure out ways in which we can grow and models of monetisation,” Arvind added.

“We are the only sport in the world which is not run by the federation because the publisher owns the trademark of the game,” Rathee concluded.

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