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The dawn of Esports in India: Dissecting the market landscape, trends and more

IBEF:  September 14, 2020

The paradigm shift in the way Indians consume content and the way people socialise online has acted as a catalyst for many attention economy sectors including online gaming. Additionally, the behavioural changes set in by the Covid-19 pandemic has acted as an accelerant. The time spent on mobile games per user per week went from 151 minutes before the lockdown to 218 minutes during the lockdown. Esports has a huge potential in the Indian market, given that India has the right distribution of consumers and players, thanks to the high youth population. 

The esports segment within online gaming has witnessed significant growth in India in the past few years thanks to proliferation of high-end smartphones at affordable prices, as well as the rise of mobile games such as PUBG Mobile, Free Fire, Clash of Legends, Call of Duty Mobile among bigger PC and console games such as DOTA2, CS:GO, Rocket League, Fortnite PUBG and others.  

The aggregate revenue of esports startups and companies in India reached US$ 68 Mn in FY2020, as per Inc42 Plus analysis of 36 companies including Jetsynthesys, Nazara Technologies, Usports, Gamerji among others. The rise in viewership has made a major contribution to esports revenue so far, but the participation from Indian players is also rising rapidly thanks to the higher income potential, as we will see.

Various trends to note in eSports India sector are:

Rise in Esports Prize Money Pool: Esports has seen rising participation from Indian players as the prize money across esports tournaments has been on an upward trajectory since 2016.

Emergence of Esports Cafe: Esports cafes are not only a way for people to play games without owning the requisite hardware, but this is where the competitive mentality is built through amateur tournaments. It also allows gamers to engage and create communities. India is home to an estimated 350-plus such esports cafes with PC hardware giant NVIDIA announcing plans to expand its gaming footprint in India by adding 100 more cafes. Nemesis Gaming, League of Extraordinary Gamers (LXG) and Circle Gaming are few major esports cafe startups in India.

Rise in Startup Investments: As demand for competitive gaming rises in India, the esports and gaming segment is attracting adequate investor interest. Between 2014 and H1 2020, the total venture capital funding in Indian gaming startups was US$ 448 Mn, according to Inc42 Plus. Among the gaming startups, the top-funded startups are Dream11 with US$ 100 Mn in total funding, followed by Smaaash Entertainment with US$ 82.6 Mn in funding and Nazara Technologies with US$ 79 Mn.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.