Two important developments have happened in the gaming sector this week. Firstly, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is now the nodal ministry to oversee the country’s nascent but growing online gaming industry.
In another development, the government has officially recognised esports as part of multi-sports events. The esports community in the country has longed for this for a long time and the fact that this directive came just before the year ended has added to the enthusiasm.
According to Niko Partners, a market research and consulting firm that covers video games, e-sports, and streaming, India is the fastest-growing games market in Asia, both in terms of revenue and gamers, with its mobile and PC gaming revenue projected to reach US$704.5 million in 2022.
We have been constantly working on establishing the difference between esports and gaming, and finally, our efforts have been fulfilledLokesh Suji, Director, Esports Federation of India & Vice President of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF)
The big news has cleared the air that esports must not be clubbed under the umbrella term ‘gaming’. Experts have been reiterating that esports (Electronic sports) is a competitive sport where esports athletes use their physical and mental abilities to compete in certain genres of video games in a virtual, electronic environment.
“Great news for us to begin the new year. We have been constantly working on establishing the difference between esports and gaming, and finally, our efforts have been fulfilled,” says Lokesh Suji, Director, Esports Federation of India and Vice President of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF).
“We welcome this announcement by our government under the leadership of Hon’ble PM Modi ji, which will open new avenues to pour in more investment opportunities in this booming industry,” he adds.
It presents a clean slate for gamers and proves to naysayers that Esports is, in fact, a serious sport that deserves to be recognised for its skilled and hard-working players who will be competing against some of the world’s best players and put India on the map of professional gaming countriesAnimesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO, 8bit Creatives & an ex-esports athlete
“It presents a clean slate for gamers and proves to naysayers that Esports is, in fact, a serious sport that deserves to be recognized for its skilled and hard-working players who will be competing against some of the world’s best players and put India on the map of professional gaming countries,” says Animesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO, 8bit Creatives and an ex-esports athlete.
With the latest announcement and India recently competing for medals at the inaugural Esports Asian Games, people are shaking off the misconceptions linked with esports as a passion or career option. The year 2023 beholds greater opportunities for esports and the esports community is anticipating more favourable developments, only making it bigger.
“From now onwards, we will have to build the proper infrastructure, training facilities and coaching for our young esports athletes. Only a short time until we see Esports being placed in the same league as cricket, football, basketball, etc. and having similar fan power, scale, and craze,” Suji explains.
Only a short time until we see Esports being placed in the same league as cricket, football, basketball, etc. and having similar fan power, scale, and crazeRohit Jagasia, Founder and CEO, Revenant Esports
“Today can be said to be the greatest day in Indian Esports history,” says Rohit Jagasia, Founder and CEO, Revenant Esports. “The collective efforts of the entire gaming fraternity along with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and sports have finally reaped its rewards. We can now proudly consider Esports a legitimate sport in India.”
This revolutionary decision will not only transform the country’s gaming landscape in terms of improved infrastructure, funding, exposure and providing education about the sector but will also put India on the global Esports map as a force to be reckoned with.
“The year 2023 is undoubtedly going to be the start of the country’s golden era in Esports and with the Asian Games as well as the Olympic Esports Week also set to take place soon, there is a lot of success expected to be in store for the entire community,” he adds.
Esports Community Rejoices
The entire Esports fraternity in India will be rejoicing with this welcome news which has certainly been a result of the gaming community’s collective efforts spanning over the last few years.
“Esports have already been considered as a medal sport in the Olympics and Asian games and this news will further boost the sport in the country as it was long overdue,” says Agarwal.
The industry inclusive of developers, players and creators as a whole is growing at a fast pace and to come full-circle this recognition will be very thriving for the industry.
This move is also in line with the much-needed agenda to recognize esports as an official sport in our country — thereby giving a fantastic boost and a level playing field to today’s esports athletes, gaming creators, and the community at largeParth Chadha, CEO and Co-founder of STAN
“At 8Bit Creatives and S8UL, this is a defining moment for us. The future of Indian esports holds great things from our side. We are committed to nurturing and supporting more and more esports players in our country, starting from ground zero with a refined vision of putting India on the map globally,” he adds.
Parth Chadha, CEO and Co-founder of STAN says that it’s heartening to see the Government of India taking note of it and taking steps to uplift these sectors with increased regulatory clarity at a time when gaming and esports are emerging as the fastest growing sectors of the Indian economy.
“We at STAN welcome this move to appoint nodal Ministries for online gaming as well as esports. This move is also in line with the much-needed agenda to recognize esports as an official sport in our country — thereby giving a fantastic boost and a level playing field to today’s esports athletes, gaming creators, and the community at large, and further also making esports a sunrise sector in India in 2023 and beyond,” he says.
Esports Rise Has Been Sharp
Indian Esports saw a sharp rise in popularity in 2022. With milestones like the Indian Dota 2 contingent winning a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Esports Championship and esports being included as a medal sport in the Asian Games 2022 (to be held in 2023).
As per gaming-focused venture capital fund Lumikai’s recent study, the esports industry, (barring real money and fantasy gaming), is expected to grow to USD 4 billion by the fiscal year ending March 2027, compared to USD 1.1 billion in 2022.
The further recognition of athletic achievement will result in an expansion of the gaming community, emergence of viable career options, bonafide support to Esports players, higher brand/ media engagement alongside the broader acceptance of gaming as an industrySalone Sehgal, Founding General Partner, Lumikai
“Esports being recognised as an official sport is a milestone event in making the gaming industry mainstream. With 507 million gamers, India is emerging as a key gaming market in the world. Esports streaming watch hours already rival that of traditional sport,” says Salone Sehgal, Founding General Partner, Lumikai.
“The further recognition of athletic achievement will result in an expansion of the gaming community, emergence of viable career options, bonafide support to Esports players, higher brand/ media engagement alongside the broader acceptance of gaming as an industry. Lumikai is heartened to see our research and recommendations assist in shaping policy and regulation. We expect the industry to make even greater strides in 2023,” she adds.
A Registered SRO is Good News
“The proposed revisions to the IT (Intermediary Rules and Digital Media Ethics Code) rules, 2021 with regard to the online gaming industry are a very constructive and promising move, and we welcome them,” says Sameer Barde, CEO, E-Gaming Federation.
We feel, these moves will eventually help the government establish a regulated and sustainable industry while promoting responsible gamingSameer Barde, CEO, E-Gaming Federation
The amendments emphasize on the constitution of a self-regulatory body (SRO), which would be registered with the Ministry of Electronics and IT, with a focus on light-touch regulation. The SRO would ensure a robust time-bound grievance redressal mechanism, registration of online gaming intermediaries, promoting responsible gaming through age verification, and rigorous KYC process, and undertake safeguard measures against addiction, financial distress, etc.
“Overall, we feel, these moves will eventually help the government establish a regulated and sustainable industry while promoting responsible gaming. We’re truly excited about the future of the online gaming industry and as a self-regulatory body, E-Gaming Federation looks forward to playing an active role in shaping the future of the sector,” he adds.