The Esports Business is Booming in India and the World
Being paid to play video games for a living is the dream of millions of gamers all around the world. It’s similar to the way that millions dream of following in the footsteps of their favourite footballers, cricketers, or racing drivers.
However, while this was a fanciful thought just a few years ago, the growth of esports has made the prospect of being a professional gamer a reasonable possibility for some.
The business of esports is booming and has grown to be worth over a billion US dollars as of 2020. It’s also taking off here in India, with many big gaming brands investing heavily in the country.
What Are Esports?
Esports are competitions where video games are used to decide the winner. They have many similarities with traditional sports, using similar tournament structures, being broadcast on TV and online, attracting sponsors, and issuing prize money to competitors.
The games that are played in these esports leagues and tournaments are the retail versions of popular titles like Call of Duty, Fortnite, League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Dota 2. They’re shown to fans around the world through streaming services like Twitch and on traditional television networks in some countries.
Sponsorship deals make up a big part of modern sports; for example, through a combination of sponsorship and TV rights deals, the NFL generates around $16 billion of revenue every year. Other major sports leagues, including the Indian Premier League and the English Premier League, also generate eye-wateringly high sums of money through sponsorship contracts.
Esports have been replicating this model in recent years. It started with video game publishers and computer hardware manufacturers sponsoring tournaments but has since grown into a much bigger market.
Recent examples of esports sponsorship contracts include one between PokerStars and Furia, Subway and Guildsports, and TikTok, e.l.f Cosmetics, and Enthusiast Gaming. The wide variety of companies involved in these kinds of deals shows how diverse the audience for esports is and demonstrates the huge opportunity they see for getting involved.
Here in India, one of the biggest domestic esports competitions is the Acer Predator League. The computer hardware and peripherals manufacturer uses the competition to promote its Predator line of products that are aimed at PC gamers.
Sponsors wouldn’t be interested in splashing out on these sponsorship deals if it wasn’t for the huge audiences that many esports competitions attract.
The exact number of fans is hard to calculate as different organisations and countries report them differently. The most widely reported figure is that there are around 500 million people who watch esports each year, however, that could be as high as 1 billion according to some sources.
Regardless, that’s a lot of people and is a demographic larger than the populations of almost all the countries on Earth, including the United States and all of the nations in the European Union.
Most analysts believe that this growth is likely to continue for some time, particularly since esports currently appeal to younger demographics. As they move into middle and old age, more esports fans will follow, just like what has happened with traditional sports for several generations.
Up until now, esports has mostly been broadcast over the internet. For the most part, this has been crucial to its growth in popularity as it has been easy for tech-savvy millennials to discover this new form of entertainment.
However, to gain a broader appeal, esports needs to find its way onto television. This has begun to happen in the last couple of years through major broadcasters like the UK’s BBC and Channel 4 and the USA’s ESPN.
We’re likely to see more of this in the future, with broadcasters also paying a fee to acquire the rights to show competitions on their channels. In doing so, esports organizers will have another revenue stream to invest in the development and promotion of their competitions.
With so much potential and a lot of momentum, esports looks set to continue to grow larger and larger for the foreseeable future.