Even as Indian sports teams return to eerily empty stadia after a long hiatus, a quiet gaming revolution has been growing louder indoors. And the ongoing IPLand ISL matches are only adding to the noise instead of retracting from it.
The Indian online gaming market is poised to grow to $1 billion by 2021, according to a Google-KPMG report with urban centers like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai and Bengaluru, and smaller towns adding to the swelling numbers of esports enthusiasts.
Meanwhile, a recent YouGov white paper, titled eGaming and Esports: The Next Generation, revealed that seven out of 10 urban Indians are now playing video games or mobile games on any device, taking India into the Top 10 gaming countries in the world.
The demands of interactive games are on the rise, which is helping gaming companies to turn the tables on their side.
Ishaan Arya, Co-Founder of The Esports Club, says, “Esports is a new age entertainment phenomenon. So it’s understandable to see it hold its own even during cricket and football season. Our own player surveys show that at least 40 per cent of esports players and viewers watch traditional sports and esports regularly, while 45 per cent only watch the esports. It shows how content preferences are changing with younger generations. In fact, 45 per cent don’t watch anything on TV and traditional broadcast; their preferred content is either streamed online or available on demand.”
Parth Chadha, Founder, EWar Games, points out: “In the pandemic, fantasy sports have emerged as the best form of fan engagement involving active participation through the creation of virtual teams. Both cricket and football e-games are seeing active participation through the on-going IPL and ISL.”
Paytm First Games has emerged as the fastest-growing fantasy gaming platform in the industry according to Sudhanshu Gupta, its COO, who says, “We are registering a significant increase in user engagement during ISL as well as India vs Australia series. With Sachin Tendulkar as our brand ambassador, we could generate more awareness about this genre of gaming, especially in smaller towns and cities. Over the next few months, we will bring in more games under various formats and exponentially expand fantasy sports in India. We are registering multiple transactions from our users who are hardcore football followers. Those who have played IPL on our platform are also engaging in ISL which is quite encouraging,” notes Gupta.
Arya notes an increase in esports events, despite the PUBG Mobile ban and lockdown.
“This industry is far from slowing down, and has instead capitalised on all the extra time people have to consume digital content and has thrived over the past few months. With Niti Aaayog taking a step in the right direction to frame uniform nationwide guidelines for the fantasy sports industry, we will continue witnessing the exponential industry growth,” concludes Chadha.