Followed by the rapid growth of global eSports markets, the Indian eSports ecosystem has also gained huge momentum and growing at a good pace. At the same time, the viewership has also grown exponentially and eSports events are being watched by millions of viewers across the online platforms. Over the years, the prominence of eSports in India has risen due to which the aspiring gamers are very optimistic about the opportunities coming in and they work really hard to grow their skills. Indian Gaming League (IGL) is one of the most popular competitive gaming and eSports leagues that hosts gaming tournaments online and offline. Rajeev Ranjan, Editor, Digital Terminal, exclusively talked to Yash Pariani, CEO, IGL. He elaborated about the Indian eSports ecosystem, challenges faced by gamers and the supporting factors for the gaming culture in India. Read below the excerpts:
Rajeev: How do you see the eSports ecosystem in India? How have things changed for eSports Industry if we look at the past 4-5 years?
Yash Pariani: I see that the Esports ecosystem in India has been in a constant upward trajectory lately especially in the last 4-5 years. The scene has blossomed and given rise to several great talents and content creators may within the national scene and even at international stages. Esports in India was considered as an acquired taste a few years back but in recent time due to efforts by various organizations and content creators and several big gaming companies seeing the possibility of India as a market, things listed below have helped us grow.
Rajeev: The Esports industry has witnessed unprecedented growth in online gaming during the lockdown period, so how much traction did you observe in online gaming particularly for IGL during the lockdown?
Yash Pariani: The growth of the Indian Esports scene during lockdown is definitely a thing of beauty to be observed, the growth was upmost of 60% player base increase in IGL but we all should not forget the government ban on the PUBG Mobile which almost constituted 40-60% of the Indian mobile gaming player base at that time was a shock to the community and even many considered the scene could have died down just then and there as even after 6 teams out of the TOP 10 international PUBG scene were Indian teams the future looked in turmoil. But IGL and Indian Esports scene endured and went through it to give rise to new possibilities with the new or already existing titles such as CODM, free fire or Valorant which saw a huge rise in the player base and even the old players who left due to the PUBG ban came back after a while when they got their grip over to new games and scene grew even when many didn’t expect it to.
Rajeev: What are the top challenges that young aspiring and professional gamers face most often?
Yash Pariani: Honestly, the major one is the ideology within the general consensus of the Indian community that in some way or form video games are bad, they cause violence or they are only a waste of time and if you have an Asian or Indian upbringing you may know how hard is it to tell an adult when you’re a kid about any of your non-popular passions or interests. People are not interested to even listen but seemingly this trend is changing and with the work from IGL and other organisations who are working on the grassroots development of the scene, it plays a major part in shifting the ideology as when people see hard cash or personal growth everyone will think about that possibility.
We also used to face issues such as bad internet, general mockery of a gamer and several other factors but lately all these issues are on a downward fall and everyone atleast all young adults are learning about video gaming and possibilities which come forward with esports.
Rajeev: The gaming cafes playing an instrumental role for the gamers in their initial journey so how important are these gaming cafes to the growing gaming culture in India?
Yash Pariani: Gaming cafes used to, yes they used to be an instrumental role for the gamers setting up their initial journey into the esports/gaming culture as they used to be the hub for good internet and decent level computers which were able to handle the games. Gaming Cafes were also important as they were the first initial facilities where Indian esports was started as the first few Indian gaming events back when for Counter Strike Source/1.6 or DOTA 2 were taking place and were pretty much only sources of competition for the players as we didn’t have good PCs at home or the decent/affordable internet to take care of the data limits. Hence, at the beginning of the Esports in India they played a major part in the growth of the scene. But nowhere days we see a lot of changes as since the launch of 4G, broadband and all other providers have started providing affordable internet, PC prices have also decreased and that has given rise to several communities related to gaming on the internet which has given the opportunity to many players, content creators and also to the organizations.
Rajeev: The gaming brands are coming in support of the gamers and sponsoring them for the domestic/international eSports tournaments so how are these associations between brands and gamers boosting the confidence of aspiring gamers? How is IGL associating with brands to support gamers?
Yash Pariani: First let me clear this up, there are 2 types of esports organization.
As you can see above yes there are various brands coming forward who hire talented players and give them financial backing so they can just focus on their skillsets and to improve them in the hope to qualify for bigger events and even one day attend international events. But IGL and several other organization like us are not team based organization, our main function here is to host the events maybe it smaller daily events, weekly events, regional level events, national level events & international events where we host and setup a structure and partners with a brand or sponsor to provide the winners to have an opportunity to win a big money prize pool which they can help themselves with, our main function is to develop a grassroots esports ecosystem where anyone from rookie, amateur, semi pro or professional player can come, play and earn some money If they good enough!