Electronic Sports popularly known as "Esports" is one of the booming industries worldwide. Fueled by the rising popularity of streaming platforms such as Twitch, Esports has been brought into the cultural mainstream. Over the last decade, the growth of Esports has been tremendous. Earlier, gaming tournaments were held locally in school auditoriums, now they're organized in sold-out sports arenas around the world. Additionally, millions of people consume live streaming gaming content on a daily basis across game genres such as Sports, Fantasy, Battle Royale, Arcade, RPG (Role-Playing), and more.
While the Americas and South-Asia have established Esports markets, there is one country on the cusp of becoming the biggest hub of Esports in the world. We're talking about India, home to more than a billion people, the majority of who are Gen-Z & Millenials. The country has between 300-400 million active gamers. To put that into perspective, that's 10 times the population of Canada!
A lot of factors have contributed to the increased popularity of Esports in India. In recent years, internet connectivity in India has improved tremendously accompanied by one of the cheapest rates for mobile data globally. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic led to schools and colleges switching to online classes, leading to youngsters having more leisure time. Which they utilize to, you guessed it, game!
Furthermore, with affordable smartphones flooding the market, gaming has become accessible to everyone. Mobile gaming is huge in India, with titles such as PUBG Mobile, Garena Free Fire, COD Mobile & Among Us being played by millions each day. India is the biggest market for PUBG Mobile, with more than 50 million downloads and 33 million active users. As a result, Tencent Games (the game’s developer) decided to host its first-ever PUBG Mobile Tournament in India in 2019. The tournament was open only for Indian gamers and received more than 250,000 registrations, and had a prize pool of around $75,000.
The popularity of gaming among the Indian youth has not gone unnoticed by the industry. Since April 2020, venture capitalists and organizations have invested more than $400 million into Indian gaming start-ups. As the number of gamers has increased, so have the tournament prize pools. International brands such as Mountain Dew, Logitech, Airtel, Dell, Oppo, Acer, and Coca-Cola have actively started sponsoring Indian Esport tournaments. Between 2016-18, the Esport prize pool in India increased by a whopping 123.3%. This increase in monetary revenue motivates casual gamers to turn professional and make Esports into a serious career.
Hence it comes as no surprise that some of the most popular live-streaming gamers are Indian. To name a few, CarryMinati and Total Gaming have more than 25 Million subscribers each on Youtube and rake in between 1-2 million viewers per stream. In comparison, Ninja, arguably the world's most famous gamer, has fewer subscribers and views on his streams. YouTube is not Ninja's primary platform to stream, but his fan base is certainly spread across the world. The fact that Indian streamers have such a large following, mostly from Indian viewers, shows the popularity and strength of the Indian Esports community.
In the coming years, Esports in India is only going to grow further. Indian gaming organisations are beginning to find their feet as they have started establishing professional teams and training facilities across the country. Additionally, major game developers such as Tencent, Riot Games, Activision, etc., are hosting regular tournaments in India to tap into the market of millions of gamers. The golden age of Esports in India is about to begin, so buckle in and good luck, have fun.