The recent announcement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to partner with five International Sports Federations and game publishers to launch the inaugural Olympic Virtual Series (OVS) is a welcome move for the Indian Esports industry.
As the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) works towards bridging the gap between virtual shooting and the real-world sport, this initiative will help propagate esports in India and identify talent and help groom prospective champions. This will be the first e-shooting game where the virtual game will adhere to the rules and principles set by International Olympic committee and the ISSF, especially that of being a non-violent game.
To be held ahead of the Tokyo Olympics 2021, the OVS will begin on 13 May and end on 23 June 2021. The OVS will mobilize Esports enthusiasts from all around the world to reach a new Olympic audience.
“We welcome the IOC’s move to introduce virtual Esport versions of real world physical sport in the inaugural Olympic Virtual Series. We are sure this will encourage people to take up these sports virtually and potentially chart a way for them to emerge as champions in the physical sport”, said Raninder Singh, President, NRAI.
NRAI along with esports and skill gaming platform MPL is also working towards bridging the gap between physical shooting and the virtual, especially given how physical infrastructure for shooting still needs a lot of development and is inaccessible to most Indians. NRAI believes that virtual versions of Olympic-style shooting sports will help evoke an interest among the masses and could serve as a gateway to people looking to enter the real sport.
Gagan Narang, Padmashri, Khel Ratna and Olympic Medallist (pls provide correct designation), India has never had a dearth of talent in shooting, and the recently concluded World Cup is a strong validation of the potential. As I have realized, technology is increasingly playing an important role in improving player performances, and gamifying the experience by initiatives as envisioned by NRAI and ably supported by MPL will not only amplify player engagement, but critically increase fan awareness about competitive sports. India needs many more such interventions across sports.
In this regard, NRAI is working with MPL to develop a mobile version of a shooting game, which is slated to be released on Independence Day, August 15, 2021. The game is a, simulator style, non-violent shooting game with ISSF style trap and skeet formats.
The NRAI will also organize, pandemic permitting, hybrid tournaments around Independence Day where the best virtual shooters will be selected for training by prominent shooting champions in India.
“We are pleased to be developing a non-violent Olympic-style shooting game with MPL. We will use this shooting simulator game to create interest, educate and train an audience of millions of internet users about the physical sport of shooting. We will also be hosting tournaments where the best virtual shooters get a chance to compete and participate in physical shooting. Online engagement will feed into offline interest which in turn will open the doors of our sport to many more Indians”, said Raninder Singh, President, NRAI.
Sai Srinivas, Co-Founder and CEO of Mobile Premier League, which aims to take esports to the masses via mobile, said, “This is a monumental step taken by IOC to introduce the first ever Olympic-licensed virtual series. NRAI was already a first mover in recognizing the potential for e-shooting. Esports has witnessed a meteoric rise in India over the past few years and is recognized as a proper sporting career path in many regions of the world. An IOC-approved tournament announced before the Olympics will certainly help Esports get its due and encourage people to consider it as a professional option.”
Industry data shows that there is a lot of appetite for target shooting games in India, especially for a mobile-first audience. On MPL alone, since November 2020, over 17 million game plays were recorded for MPL’s target shooting titles, with 13 million alone coming from its archery game. MPL’s vision remains to create similar enabling engagements across sports disciplines that falls in line with their vision to support policymakers create an enabling esports ecosystem.