Mom: Dinner’s ready!
Son: Five more minutes, after this game!!!
This was something every gamer had to deal with across the globe. But while other countries quickly accepted it to be a part and parcel of life, India was less than inclined towards gaming from the get-go. Gaming was considered a hobby.
Looking at the growth of the industry over the years, we have finally come to a point where families have started being supportive of this career choice. Rather than opting for a 9-to-5 job, more and more gamers have started taking their careers seriously and are transitioning into professional esports athletes and streamers.
So what is gaming? Gaming is a form of entertainment which is consumed via interaction, participation and viewership. It encompasses PC gaming, mobile gaming and console gaming and is multi-billion dollar industry globally. This industry comprises of gamers who can be a casual or an enthusiast, an amateur or a professional, a player or a viewer. Gaming can be as simple as picking up your mobile and launching some birds at hostile pigs in a castle, or as complex as dedicating years to learning and mastering a game and competing against other similarly dedicated players globally with millions of dollars at stake.
The term “esports” seem new but the concept isn’t. Esports is the part of gaming that’s competitive, where various genres of games are played competitively against other players, on different platforms. From fighting against your friend at the local arcade with a barrage of virtual punches and kicks to being seated together and connected to 100s of other gamers and being the last person alive in a perilous deserted island. Esports is as old as gaming is. The only difference we see nowadays, is the higher stakes and the dedication gamers put in to reach the top. With prize pools running in the millions and a loyal audience who travel halfway across the globe to watch their teams play, esports has become a global phenomenon with major brands investing heavily in the industry and corporations building stadiums larger than conventional sports stadiums. Professional athletes train their body and mind, regularly to stay at the best of conditions and are supported with the state-of-the-art facilities and a salary for playing their game.
Another term people might be unfamiliar with is “video game live streaming”. Streaming is a form of online video broadcast on specialised platforms where you play games and entertain your viewers. A viewer might be engrossed by your playstyle or your witty humour. There can be thousands of players watching you at a point of time and cheering for you. Streaming has become a full-time job for a lot of people with them earning a comfortable six-figure income monthly by just regularly entertaining their viewers. Brands sponsor these streamers to advertise and endorse their products on their stream.
The global gaming industry is still growing at a rapid pace with a valuation of $108.9 billion and a YoY growth of 7.8% in 2017. The Asia Pacific region contributes to 47% of this with India ranked 17th globally valued at $818 million with an 11.14% CAGR. Gaming in India is still nascent with a lot of scope for growth and recognition. Esports plays a huge part in gaming with $696 million market and whopping 385.5 million viewers watching their favourite teams and players fight for glory. That’s thrice as many subscribers Netflix has.
So how far has India come? India is slowly catching up with the rest of the world. We have 253.2 million gamers in India with 81% of them in the age group of 16 – 30. We have professional teams in India who compete globally against other teams. We have people who have taken up streaming as their jobs. Rather than pursuing a regular career like your average John and Jane, we have emerging brave souls who want to stand out and make their dreams come true. And the space is filled with brands who want to work hand in hand with these people, empowering and enabling such a career into reality.
Gaming in India has been given a boost in the recent years with the advent of 4G and FTTH. Prices have grown more competitive which has helped not only companies but also gamers across India. We have seen a spike in mobile gaming with 4G being introduced in India and will play a major role in the industry. FTTH, which is already being deployed in tier-1 cities, provides high-speed internet connection over optical fibre directly to your home from the ISP which has increased the quality of service. In tier-2 cities, gaming cafés and colleges act as hotspots for gamers and most tournaments are hosted in these colleges, due to the presence of stable infrastructure which, in turn, promotes the growth of gaming.
Esports is on the rise in India with multiple tournaments being announced with unprecedented prize pools. Esports is dynamically changing the industry with numerous brands joining in and helping the space flourish. Monthly tournaments provide a scope for professional gamers to sustain a living and also provides growth to multiple domains attached to esports like cosplayers, shoutcasters, and analysts and so on. From small tournaments in cafés and college labs to huge events filled with gamers, esports has come a long way in India. 2018 saw numerous companies invest heavily in esports by announcing multiple tournaments with prize pools of over INR 1 crore.
We are also expecting an increase in VR and AR gaming in India. VR gears are being readily accessible to people and families are opting in for the virtual reality experience. Mobile phones are growing powerful every day and proving to be effective AR devices. New games are being launched every day which take advantage of augmented reality and taking use experience to a whole new level. Mobile gaming is also on the rise in India due to the ease of entry and affordable and stable internet connection. With the amount of time people invest on mobiles, a lot of developers are shifting their focus to mobile games and catering to a big chunk of gamers who prefer mobiles over expensive PCs and consoles as their gaming gear. With the number of game development studies in our country, the next big title might be from India.
With the ecosystem growing and evolving every year, we see a bright future for gaming in India. Gaming in India is an incipient industry and has a long way to go. We hope to see more professional players, more streamers and more parents supporting their kid’s dream. There was a time when you would idolise a sportsperson, the day is here when kids idolise their favourite professional gamer or streamer. We have a generation of parents who are gamers too and encourage their kids and help them balance gaming along with other life priorities. We hope to see more companies and brands invest their time and resource in the gaming industry and maybe one day, a kid who wants to grow up and be a professional gamer.
Mujahid Rupani is the co-founder & CEO of COBX Gaming