The eSports and gaming industry in India is one of the fastest-growing industries in the country and has reportedly attracted more than $350 million in investments from venture capital firms from 2014-2020. The current coronavirus lockdown has been a shot in the arm of the eSports industry, with reports suggesting a growth rate of more than 21 per cent. The eSports sector has been a welcome boost to the fans, who have resorted to mobile applications to pass their time during the lockdown, with all sporting activists suspended to contain the threat of the virus.
According to a report Gaming–India Story by Maple Capital Advisors, the investment in the eSports sector is expanding at an annual rate of over 22 per cent and is currently valued at a staggering $930 million. The investment bank expects the growth rate to further increase to 41 per cent, citing the growth of digital infrastructure and a substantial rise in quality and engaging gaming content as the reason. While fantasy sports apps like Dream11 have taken a hit amidst the lockdown, the gaming sector has received a renewed push with consumption growing at least 20-30 per cent.
Pankaj Karna, founder and MD of Maple Capital Advisors, believes the investments and the growth in the eSports and gaming sector is likely to double in the next couple of years. Karna adds that marquee venture capitalists like Airtel have introduced significant investments and it is likely that private investment will push esports and gaming in a more meaningful way going forward. According to the report, there are 300 million online gamers in India, and the number is expected to grow at 47 per cent by 2022.
The Maple Capital Advisors report states that Teen Patti, PUBG and 8-ball Pool are amongst India's top online games. The Gaming India report also suggests that fantasy gaming and eSports apps like Dream11 have taken a major hit due to the suspension of IPL and other leagues. Dream11 along with MPL, MyTeam11, Halaplay and 11wickets were cities as one India's key e-sports firms. However, the report suggests fantasy gaming and sports apps like Dream11 are likely to pick up and probably will attract more gamers after the lockdown.
The trend suggests that Indian gaming space is prospering due to the increase of multi-player formats especially in games like Teen Patti, 8-ball Pool and Ludo. Investors like Airtel are showing more interest in Indian gaming startups and there is a significant increase in consumption and creation of local Indian gaming content. The report states that during the first month of the lockdown, gaming consumption increased by 21 per cent. Airtel's partnership with NODWIN Gaming is likely to boost the eSports sector in India and could well surpass the expected $3.75 million figure in 2024.