We are approaching interesting times where esports is gaining popularity like never before. With the advent of low-cost smartphones and some of the cheapest data packages in the world, the online gaming industry in India was already enjoying a period of sustained growth as more and more Indians got connected to the internet.
A proliferating concept amongst the millennials and Gen Z audience, esports is nothing short of exciting for those who play in it with zeal.
The rapidly progressing virtual world is changing the dynamics and perception towards sectors such as esports and Fantasy Sport. While India is gradually accepting the adoption rate of esports, it is high time we have regulation and code of conduct in place that is advised, monitored, and approved by the authority in charge.
The surge in the esports sector is backed by the growing need of players to enjoy this form of virtual entertainment with their family and friends. As per a report published by KPMG, the COVID-19 pandemic saw a shift in consumption patterns, with the firm reporting a 15-20% growth in gaming and digital media consumption in India by 2021.
The nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced all of us to readjust our lifestyles in a major way, and people obviously adjusted to the new circumstances and revaluated their preferred mediums of entertainment, and online gaming was one of those mediums that experienced tremendous growth.
This budding industry promises a growth of 36% YOY over the next three years as gaming becomes more mainstream. This growth is underlined by the fact that the Indian audience for esports gaming tournaments has grown from 6 Mn in 2017 to 17 Mn in 2020 as stated in the report by KPMG.
The shift of Indian audiences towards digital mediums of entertainment also presents the advertising industry with an enormous opportunity to engage with its target audience. Fantasy Sports, one of the most in-demand segments that also increase sports engagement in gaming, is still undertaking challenges when it comes to enjoying independent legal recognition.
Government Will Play A Crucial Role In Regularizing The Sector
Niti Aayog, the technology think tank body under the ambit of the central government, has published draft guideline proposals for the online fantasy gaming sector. The proposal seeks to set up uniform operating grounds for online fantasy gaming players across all states in India along with establishing an independent oversight body that will control operational issues of companies in the online fantasy gaming space in India.
Given the industry’s growth and popularity, these guidelines are essential in creating a uniform operating procedure and standard practices that will help protect the interests of fantasy sports users. NITI Aayog’s report also correctly identified the industry’s potential in generating thousands of new jobs as well as contributing to the economy by attracting Foreign Direct Investment and the revenue generated for the government through the various taxes levied on the industry.
While India is still working towards making the perception shift when it comes to distinguishing gambling with skilled gaming, the implementation of the regulatory guidelines for esports and fantasy gaming will help the sector take a step forward in achieving this distinction.
Aligned to the government’s take on Atma Nirbhar Bharat, the regulations are expected to bring industry-academia interfaces to foster new career paths in gaming and to build up a considerable talent pool in the sector.
The regulations would also provide a clear path and guidelines through which the gaming industry can utilize its projected growth to contribute towards the growth of the country’s economy and help provide jobs in a new, digital India.