In recent years, Indian esports industry has experienced a meteoric rise, with the player base and enthusiasm for competitive gaming reaching unprecedented levels. According to a report by Money Control, the number of esports players in the country surged from 6 lakh in 2021 to a staggering 10 lakh in 2022. This rapid expansion is expected to continue, with projections indicating that the player count will reach an astonishing 25 lakh by the end of the current year.
The Rise of Indian Esports Industry
One of the driving forces behind this surge is the inclusion of esports as a medal event in the upcoming Asian Games. This development has injected fresh energy into the Indian esports scene, inspiring both newcomers and established players to aim for greatness. As Mayank Prajapati, representing India in the Street Fighter V game in the Asian Games, puts it, “There is nothing bigger than representing your country in the game you love.”
The journey to the Asian Games has not been without its challenges, but it has undeniably brought esports to the forefront of Indian sports and entertainment. Tirth Mehta from India had already won a bronze in Hearthstone during the 2018 Asian Games when esports was first introduced as a demonstration title. Now, with esports as an official medal event, the stakes are higher than ever.
Beyond personal glory, the inclusion of esports in the Asian Games has brought about a shift in perspective. Lokesh Suji, director of the Esports Federation of India (ESFI), noted that it has not only legitimized esports but also garnered greater support from parents and authorities.
Additionally, with the return of Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) and Free Fire India, the esports industry will only grow in the future. These previously banned titles command a significant market share within the esports industry. Notably, since its return in May 2023, the game has already witnessed a tournament with an astounding INR 2.1 Crore prize pool – BGMI Masters Series Season 2. Furthermore, the ongoing Battlegrounds Mobile India Series (BGIS) 2023 features an equally impressive prize pool of INR 2.1 Crore. This serves as clear evidence of how rapidly the industry is growing in India.
Challenges Face by the Indian Esports Industry
However, it’s not all smooth sailing. Some esports titles, such as Arena of Valor and Peace Elite AGV, are banned in India, impacting the country’s participation in certain events at the Asian Games. This could potentially affect India’s overall medal count, a concern raised by Mayank Prajapati. The bans have also had financial implications, as the prize money for esports competitions dropped from Rs 22 crore in 2021 to Rs 15 crore in the following year.