Until two decades back, the video game culture was limited only to amateurs playing for fun, but as the time passed, there was an increase in the participation of professional players and spectators having interests in watching video games online. By 2010, E-sport was a powerful driver in the video game industry, with many developers actively designing towards a professional E-sport culture.
India has stood up to be one of the major players in the E-sports industry. In April 2019, India conducted its first ever international E-sports event — CobX masters which was hosted in Mumbai. Following the event, Dota 2 ESL (Electronic Sports League) was also organized later that month in Mumbai.
There is a dedicated E-sports Federation of India (ESFI) which is a full member of International E-Sports Federation (IESF) and Asian E-sports Federation (AESF). In fact, in the Asian Games of 2018 in Jakarta, E-sports was part as a demonstration sport, and India’s Tirth Mehta won bronze in Hearthstone. Since it was only a demonstration sport in 2018, the medal was not counted in the official medal tally, but it was a huge boost to see someone from India shining at an international circuit. However, E-sports will be a medal sport in Asian Games 2022, Hangzhou, China. Even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has explored the possibilities of incorporating E-sports in future Olympic events.
In 2019, it is estimated in India that the entire audience of E-sports will grow to 250+ million viewers with the revenue increased to more than $1 billion. Topping the list with total revenue of $37.9 billion, China has the largest gaming market, whereas India with the above revenue is placed at 16th in the world. There is a definite surge in the sponsorship for E-sports events by many endemic and as well as non-endemic brands. According to a report by one of the top 4 firms of India, it is suggested that the Indian E-sports is projected at 36.8% CAGR. Non-Endemic Brands like Flipkart, Microsoft, Mercedes, Yes Bank, Redbull are investing in the E-sport gaming. Along with them, companies like Vivo, Acer, Tencent are also playing their part in the growth of E-sports in India.
With the growing reach of the industry and more such large-scale tournaments, brands will see an array of marketing opportunities for themselves. Banking companies, E-commerce companies or automobile companies have no direct relation with E-sports sector, but being involved with the youth ensures them a bigger and wider audience base.
The gamers generally play for 3-4 hours a day and spend half of this time in watching and learning tricks of different games streamed on websites like YouTube, Twitch, etc. The advertisers usually put up the ads of different companies at such platforms which are then seen by the gamers. These people are usually between the age group of 18 and 34 years.
On the other hand, E-sports sector is still at a nascent age and companies are still afraid to channel their money in this sector. Although, brands who know about this industry are keen on sponsoring.
E-Sports vs Traditional Sports
E-sports are now not only a fun entity for the youth, but it has acquired its name in the international sporting arena very well. The world of E-sports is growing at an unprecedented rate. There is an upward shift in revenues, sponsorships, viewership, and prize money for the tournaments in E-sports year by year. In some of the aspects, E-sports is doing better than many of the traditional games which are going on for so many years now.
Revenue and Growth
Currently, E-sports revenue isn’t as substantial as some of the biggest sports like NFL and Premier League, but it is above AFL and IPL and is on track to compete with Formula-1. E-sports revenue is expected to reach the £1.2 billion mark by 2020.
Viewership and Sponsorships
The increase in E-sports revenue overtime is the result of more and more people tuning in. It is predicted that E-sports will not only begin to compete with traditional sports in terms of viewership but will surpass the majority by 2020.
When we look at the numbers of sponsors, then E-sports is way far ahead of traditional sports, but the revenue through them is yet to match.
While E-sports cannot compete with other traditional sports sponsorship revenue, they do have more in total. This shows how essential businesses regard E-sports when it comes to getting their product placed in front of a specific target audience.