Esports industry has grown tremendously over the past few years. From virtual tournaments to the commencement of LAN events, the transition has helped the esports sector in its growth on a full scale.
One of the most prestigious moments for the Indian esports industry was when the Indian Dota 2 team won the bronze medal at the first-ever Commonwealth Esports Championship.
Since the pandemic, esports players have multiplied, there has been an increase in game content developers, and viewership and engagement has also increased. Also since the ban on the two popular esports titles like Free Fire and BGMI, tournament organisers are bringing in more of other esports titles including homegrown WCC 3, Real Cricket and other titles like Chess, Pokemon Unite, and so on.
This year saw the launch of Skyesports Souvenir Mumbai 2022, which was organised by Skyesports and was the first esports LAN event post-pandemic. The Indian esports industry continued to grow shortly after the organisers began to host LAN tournaments.
In addition, both indigenous and non-indigenous brands began to seriously explore the esports market. Brands have demonstrated a great deal of interest, whether as a tournament partner or collaborating with an esports team. Esports has expanded rapidly, attracting new players, organisers, investors, and sponsors. Experts predict that one of the most widely used forms of entertainment in 2023 will be esports.
Here are the esports experts insights on how has the year been and plans for 2023:
Skyesports founder and CEO Shiva Nandy
“It’s certainly been an eventful year for esports. We saw Free Fire and PUBG Mobile being blocked which were two of the biggest esports titles in the country. While that happened, it enabled the industry to restrategise and focus on diversification. We saw PC games like VALORANT become even more popular and now we at Skyesports are even attempting to revive CS:GO and Dota 2 – two games which formed the base of the huge cafe culture in the country. We also saw esports and gaming becoming more mainstream this year with interest from non-endemic brands to invest and advertise in the scene. While this was slightly hampered due to the game bans, it’s a trend I expect to see continue in the coming year. Just like the rest of the industry, we also had to make several changes to our yearly roadmap as a result of the bans. Nonetheless, we remain profitable and while the number of gamers wanted to touch this year is much lower than our projections because of the ban on Free Fire and BGMI, it actually came as a blessing in disguise as we were able to focus our manpower elsewhere.
We expanded into SEA which has really been one of the highlights of the year. It’s a very huge and exciting market for us and we look forward to growing over there even more. So far, we have executed an official VALORANT tournament in the VCT OFF//SEASON and an all-female MLBB competition. The Skyesports SEA Championship MLBB achieved a peak viewership of over 16,000 making it a huge success.
While 2022 was a bit shaky, we have a clear plan in place for 2023. Firstly, we are coming up with a huge IP for CSGO and Dota 2. We have discussed this with the big orgs of the country as well and there is strong interest from them to enter this. Additionally, we have a roadmap coming up for Pokémon Unite with The Pokémon Company. We are already a part of the upcoming Pokémon UNITE Asia Champions and are executing the India phase of the competition. The game has a lot of potential and we are excited for its future. Besides this, we will be investing strongly into SEA as announced by us earlier this year. We plan to enter multiple games in the region and also come up with cross-regional tournaments. Lastly, you can expect more grassroot-level tournaments from us including an upcoming content IP.”
Orangutan Gaming co-founder Jai Shah
“2022 has been a roller coaster ride for us, keeping in mind the BGMI and Free Fire ban. However, we managed to bag some of the best content creators along with the most awaited Too Yumm! brand campaign. 2023 comes with multiple opportunities. We are excited to enter new verticals, branching out into the global industry through games like CSGO and DOTA 2. We are actively trying to grow the Ape Army and continue performing at the top in 2023.”
Numen Esports and gaming director Sachin Parkale
“2022 has been an excellent year for gaming and esports in India; the growth on both the talent and business side was like never before. It was especially exciting for us as we launched Numen in 2022 and undertook so many major projects including signing GodLike and Team iNSANE, the GodLike Bootcamp, collaborations with partners like Wings, STAN and many more. We have big plans for Numen for 2023, from projects with our talent and partners, to creation of content and IPs for fans. Gaming and esports are going to grow so much further in India and we’re excited to make big moves.”
Gamerji CTO Valay Patel
“The year 2022 was a roller coaster year for Esports. We had some tremendous traction of tournaments and viewership in the space with the number of gamers growing by almost 3x on Gamerji alone. However, on the other side the two major titles (BGMI and Free Fire) were banned which left a big dent on the rapid growth that India was witnessing. Gamerji managed to grow from 1.5M to 5.7M users in 2022 while increasing the number of daily tournaments from 180 to 500+. We foresee a lot of new gaming titles gaining traction in 2023 with the increase in awareness amongst the community. Also new Indian publishers are releasing their titles which will help grow the grassroot ecosystem in the gaming space.”
8bit Creatives founder and CEO Animesh Agarwal
“In many respects, 2022 was a milestone year for the Esports industry. High speed and low latency are here to redefine gamers’ lives, and once fully implemented, they will propel the industry to unprecedented heights. In addition to the significant return of on-site events in 2022, there were numerous game-changing developments, such as the debut of 5G. Once fully implemented, high speed and low latency will revolutionise the lives of players and propel the gaming industry to unimaginable heights. Then there’s big data and the internet of things, which have enabled real-time tracking, data monitoring, and analysis, allowing the industry to become more vigilant and dynamic. Web3 has also created opportunities for gamers and developers to become economically independent in an entirely new way. These additions have also helped to unite the gaming community through the enhancement of gaming experiences. Data management has enabled the sector to become more self-sufficient and futuristic.
This year, we also watched the rise of the metaverse, which has been a prominent topic of conversation even while receiving conflicting reviews. Whether or not it has a significant impact on the Indian gaming sector remains to be seen, but as far as trends are concerned, it has unquestionably garnered attention from the community and companies alike. Assuming these tendencies continue to gain traction, I believe the Esports industry will reap significant benefits.
Obviously, one of the most popular games in the country, BGMI, was banned during the second half of the year, which was a major setback. Esports organisations and players have started diversifying into multiple games as a result of this event. Favourably, this has prompted other game developers to invest in the Indian gaming industry, recognising a potential to increase their market penetration in India. All of these elements should help bring the Indian gaming industry much-needed stability and maturity.
The inclusion of Esports in international multi-sport events is something I, along with the entire Esports community, eagerly anticipate. The recent declaration by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the Olympic Esports Week in 2023 has the potential to revolutionise competitive gaming worldwide. This is a positive development in the lead-up to the Paris Olympics in 2024, and it’s surely the IOC’s attempt to push Esports in the right direction.
In addition to this, we have witnessed an increase in large sponsorships from non-endemic brands seeking to capitalise on the esports industry. In order to interact with their key demographic – GenZ and Millennials, gaming influencers have become their go-to source. Gamers have a target demographic that is very digitally savvy and fiercely loyal. Combining this highly engaged fanbase with their capacity to curate intriguing material and not just conduct brand plugs will make gamers the most sought-after influencers in the coming year. Last but not least, in-game trade, monetization, and transactions via blockchain and play-to-earn games, which have captured the attention of Indian gamers across all demographics, will also play a major role in the industry’s rapid expansion next year.”
Revenant Esports founder and CEO Rohit N Jagasia
“2022 has been massive as well as surprising for the entire esports ecosystem in India, from seeing the most loved game in India receive a prime time slot on Star Sports to seeing it get temporarily suspended took the entire esports industry by a surprise. In 2022, we have also seen titles like VALORANT , Pokémon Unite, New State getting attention and organisations in India have started following a more holistic approach towards esports and gaming. 2023 is going to be a good year for esports in general with the Pokémon Unite Asia Championship followed by a potential World Championship again and Brawl Stars seeing a solid esports plan for the year will be great considering both the titles are non-violent games. VALORANT Challengers League 2023 will also be a big IP in 2023 along with the CS:GO IP by Skyesports which is still under wraps, I think 2023 will be exceptional for India with the diversification and growth we have seen in India this year.”
Esports Federation of India director and Asian Esports Federation (AESF) vice president Lokesh Suji
“The Esports industry in India has kept surpassing expectations since the pandemic and 2022 was another remarkable year that elevated the industry to bigger heights. Mainstream media such as television, OTT platforms, and INOX have telecasted as well as promoted esports tournaments, consequently contributing to spreading awareness about gaming all around the country. We have witnessed non-endemic brands and popular personalities from numerous industries taking a keen interest to explore the gaming industry and leverage it through collaboration. There has also been a tremendous rise in video gaming influencers and streamers who have been thriving in the industry and become a key medium for brands to enter the industry. However, the most important aspect of video gaming in the country has undoubtedly been the inclusion of Esports in international multi-sport events with the bronze medal that India won in DOTA 2 at the Commonwealth Esports Championship and our Indian driver Muhammad Ibrahim ranked #5 globally in sim racing being the highlight of the Indian esports industry in 2022. With participation in the upcoming Asian Games, Olympic Esports Week, and potentially AIMAG 2025 also being confirmed, this is the golden age for Indian Esports on the international stage.
The metaverse, Web 3.0, and 5G are going to be revolutionary for the industry in the upcoming year and we are eagerly waiting to witness their potential and impact on gaming. We will also be seeing a lot more physical LAN tournaments in 2023 being conducted on a large scale across various Esports titles. Last but not least we have the Asian Games to look forward to where India is going to compete in five Esports titles for an official medal.It’s time that our esports community presents a unified voice to make India the next esports hub.”
7sea founder and director of esports Santosh Pecheti
“This year has been a testament of success for 7Sea Esports and our motto #RISEUP. We have achieved numerous victories, including taking first place at the BGMI Showdown and representing India at the PMWI. Our rebranding campaign, featuring the music video 7SEA RISE UP, has helped us establish ourselves as a leading lifestyle and Esports brand. Our expansion into entertainment and the addition of content creators with backgrounds in music, fashion, and lifestyle has only further solidified our presence in the industry. Throughout the year, me and other important figures within the company have also represented 7Sea at various panels and events, including IGDC, MGEN Summit, Skyesports Championship 4.0 and Dreamhack. We are proud of all that we have accomplished in 2022 and are excited to see what the future holds.
As we look ahead to 2023, 7Sea is filled with excitement for what the future holds. We have big plans in store, including expanding into additional gaming titles and introducing new content creators and IPs. We will also continue to participate in major events and panels, including the events like MGEN Summit organised by Animation Xpress, where we were awarded several accolades including Best Coach of the Year and Best Branded Collaboration. With our constant drive to our motto #RISEUP and never settle for anything less than the top, we can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store for us and our followers.”
Gaming Content Creation
Along with an increase in viewers, gaming content creators explored various types of content and were not restricted to game streaming. Content management and influencer marketing companies in India are also bolstering the creators with better brand recognitions, partnerships and so on.
Diversifying content has been the key for the creators. Along with game streaming, these content creators also include reviews of gaming devices, game development, and vlogs. The daily vlog styles helped the creators to reach a wider audience. In addition, influencers are growing their reach through sponsored content and diversifying their content portfolios to include original series, podcasts, and advertising campaigns. In addition, since LAN events started, the meet and greet of creators has developed into a crucial component where fans can connect with and meet their favourite creators of gaming content which has created huge buzz. Influencer NFTs also have gained the attention of fans.
Influencer partnerships with both indigenous and non-indigenous brands have aided producers in diversifying their content and improving audience resonability. Although viewers liked all types of content produced by their favourite creators, live streams have proven to be the most popular among followers because they allow them to connect with the streamer in real time and take part in live campaigns and charity fundraisers.
Here are the perspectives of content business specialists on their year thus far and their objectives for 2023:
Alpha Zegus founder and director Rohit Agarwal
“Creator Economy has definitely boomed beyond comparison with well over 5000 more creators taking on gaming as a content option. This has led to the rise of more brand endorsement opportunities, monetisation tools, streaming opportunities, and more. Also, since COVID is finally out of the picture, we have seen a tremendous rise in physical/on-ground events, which is getting fans, players, content creators and brands to finally engage face-to-face after a big gap. So far we have already seen over 15 big-scale events. Lastly, in 2022, we have seen more Web3 brands take interest in the space and create a whole new form of gaming.
In 2023, we expect to witness
– More SEA and MEA scale tournaments and events, where teams and audiences from all over SEA/MEA get to participate and enjoy esports together
– More Web3/Metaverse related innovations in the gaming ecosystem, which enable a newer form of gaming experience and competitive gaming
– Adoption of 5G and how it would accelerate the mobile gaming industry.”
Loco founder Ashwin Suresh
“2022 saw the Indian gaming industry reach unprecedented heights, with over 400 million gamers and over 100 million actively playing FPS games. This reverberated on Loco as well, with multiple streams crossing the 100K concurrent mark followed by a record-breaking 100 million views for the BGMI Master Series 2022 with over 258,000 concurrent live views for a single esports broadcast. This event saw higher viewership on Loco than on TV broadcast, marking the highest live sports viewership after cricket in India. Esports also made its debut at the 2022 Commonwealth esports Championship and the FIFAe Nations Cup 2022, with the Indian esports team making its first-ever appearance in the tournament.
Looking ahead to 2023, 5G technology will accelerate consumer behavior towards the adoption of gaming and live streaming as a mainstream entertainment platform. Gaming will become even more entrenched in popular culture, and more advanced technologies and platforms like ours will provide consumers with richer gaming entertainment experiences. As the industry continues to gain quantum growth, commercialisation will become increasingly prominent, with bigger events, larger prize pools, more advanced technology, and an even stronger audience interest. Merchandising will also become more widely available, providing gamers with more opportunities to show their support and loyalty to their favourite games, teams and streamers.”
Rooter founder and CEO Piyush Kumar
“Today, India is home to nearly 450 Mn gamers cutting across demographics and geographies. The market has grown exponentially owing to a younger population base, higher purchase propensity of gaming consumers, the introduction of new gaming genres, better internet infrastructure, and the emergence of decentralized and interoperable gameplay experiences underpinned by Web3 technology. Consequently, this has also birthed a strong content ecosystem driven by esports players, gaming content creators, and live streamers. In tandem, there is growing legitimacy for esports in India, comparable to traditional sports at grassroots (school and college championships) and global levels (wins at international events). With the introduction of more mobile-first gaming titles over the next year, the gaming population in the country is expected to get a further boost.
Sitting at the macro trends of Gaming and Content creation, we, at Rooter, find ourselves poised to strongly ride this wave on the back of our focus on content, creator, and commerce. 2022 has been the year of many firsts – we strengthened our industry-leading creator tools, introduced multiple content formats (streams, videos on demand and reels) and became the first gaming content platform to monetise actively.
In 2023, we expect to play the lead role in driving India’s Gaming creator economy and are actively working on building out more content categories, developing a robust commerce ecosystem and expanding our brand partnership portfolio beyond the 100+ brands we’ve engaged with in the past. We strongly believe that 2023 is going to be a defining year for this sunrise industry and we’re in a pole position to steer it.”
With esports receiving its deserved recognition as sports from the Ministry and diversifying content engaging more and more audiences and brands, we hope year 2023 will bring a stronger and progressive growth in the ecosystem.