Mumbai: A new kind of sport – esports is on the rise in India. The industry is expected to grow at 46% CAGR to grow over fourfold from INR2.5 billion in 2021 to INR11 billion by 2025 states the EY report,‘Ready. Set. Game ON!’ launched today. The prize pool is expected to reach INR1 billion by 2025. Unlike online gaming, esports is defined by online games of skill that are played in tournaments where different teams or individual players compete against each other to win the championship, league or title like physical sports.
Ashish Pherwani, Partner and Media & Entertainment Leader, EY India, stated, “Esports in India tells a great growth story. As a game of skill accessible indoors and on the ubiquitous mobile phone, it has gained popularity during the lockdowns witnessed in 2020 and 2021. Consequently,it has become an attractive option for brands to connect with young and empowered audiences.”
The prize money pool in India is expected to grow at 66% CAGR to reach INR1 billion..As the Indian esports industry grows at a faster pace than the global esports industry, India is picking up the pace in growing its prize pool as well. The Indian esports prize pool accounts for a meagre 0.6% of the global prize pool but is expected to reach almost 2% by 2025. Growth in the prize pool remains one of the most important factors and incentives for attracting new serious players.
Professional players and teams
It is estimated that India currently has 150,000 players and around 60,000 teams. As esports becomes a viable profession for the youth, the number of players playing esports is expected to grow at 78% CAGRby 2025 to reach 1.5 million players and 250,000 teams. The growth will be propelled by the increase in prize money, more games, localization, regional adaptation and growth of smartphone, laptop and broadband infrastructure. In contrast to the west, mobile phones are the preferred choice of device for esports in India with over 90% esports players participating in mobile esports tournaments.
Broadcasters and audience
As esports tournaments grow more competitive, they draw more viewership and support from players and the audience. Presently there are over 14 esports broadcast platforms,it is expected to cross 20 platforms by 2025. While current viewership is 17 million, by 2025 over 85 million unique viewers will watch esports tournaments in the country, comprising around 10% of global esports viewership.
Economic impact of esports
Esports will generate a total economic impact of over INR100 billion in the next four years through investments, direct industry revenues, in-app purchases and other revenues. Games popularized by esports tournaments will generate about INR14 billion in in-app purchases revenues and the industry is also expected to generate over INR300 million of ancillary revenue comprising of licensing and merchandising revenue and player salaries revenue by 2025.
Creating employment opportunities
The esports industry is expected to create over 11,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2025. Apart from specializing in gaming skills and game theory, the esports industry will also create opportunities and make way for new income streams in licensing and merchandising, player salaries and event management in the coming years.
Esports emerging a major industry segment
With increase in the number of esports tournaments catering to a growing audience and gamer base, advertisers and agencies are expected to leverage esports tournament viewership to gain reach and engagement with the audience. Streaming ad revenue is expected to quadruple to INR6.5 billion by 2025 generating the largest portion of esports revenues. Tournament sponsorship and syndication revenue is expected to grow at 45% CAGR to reach INR3.5 billion by 2025.
Regulatory support required
To facilitate the industry to achieve its potential regulatory support is required from the Government of India and state governments in terms of recognizing esports, creating a nodal esports body, providing SEZ benefits, development grants and incentives for grass root inclusion. Esports has carved a special niche for itself in the gaming industry. Countries such USA, China, Germany, South Korea and Sri Lanka have realized the impact of esports on the economy and have recognized esports as a professional sport and made policies to harness the potential.
Build India’s soft power
Esports creates an opportunity to build India’s soft power globally as large-scale organizers such as Asian games and the South Asian Games have added esports in their list of official competitions. Olympics too is evaluating adding esports to their competitions. In the 18th Asian Games held in 2018, nine Indian esports players participated and one of them won a bronze medal. With our young demographic and our ability to be native mobile esports players, we are well poised to do well in esports.