The Indian eSports industry today is undoubtedly one of the fastest-growing industry in the world and it is opening enormous growth avenues for the gamers as well as for tech brands who are into this segment. In order to boost awareness among tech partners about the immense growth and huge opportunities in Indian eSports market, DT has combined the noteworthy comments of industry leaders who are key players in this market.
Gaming Story So Far
Tech brands in recent years have invested a lot to boost Indian E-sports market. Their efforts are key fuelling factor for this market to grow at a very high speed. They are still developing a robust gaming infrastructure that will promote eSports across Indian cities in years to come. The Indian gaming market has huge potential and it is being demonstrated worldwide as Indian young professional gamers are winning at global eSport events. The aspiring gamers are keen to get their hands on the high-end gaming devices to showcase their skills. Gaming tournaments are being organized in the major Indian cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata. With so many tournaments in a year, young aspiring gamers are opting e-sports as a full-time career and to achieve this professional goal, they need all required hardware, accessories and devices to succeed in this profession. As the ground has been already prepared to have great journey in next few years, the opportunities for partners are huge.
The leading brands are working very hard and coming with aggressive channel marketing approach to encash these opportunities. Such brands are anticipating multifold growth in the coming years through many marketing activities like sponsoring the gaming tournaments, backing the professional gamers for such tournaments, collaborating with gaming cafes, developing high-end gaming devices, taking part in the global trade shows and etc. In line with the online marketplace, the offline market is also witnessing the increased sale of gaming devices which is driving the attention of channel partners to step into this domain which looks very promising. In the coming years, Indian eSports is poised to grow in more rapid way than what we are able to predict today.
Now with many advantages like strong broadband connection, powerful gaming equipment, availability of various gaming platforms and etc, it is expected that this industry will be at the forefront of many leading global industries. The scope for gaming brands here looks very positive and they also must be looking for strong growth in years to come.
“The Indian E-sports arena is booming as an industry for marketers and is constantly moving in an upward direction. The industry has undergone a huge makeover since the early ’90s right from gaming consoles as well as gaming parlors. E-Sports Industry in India is still at a nascent stage as it is not a vast industry as compared to global standards. But it is at the forefront of many industries across the world and has a high ability if we look at the young population and the increasing trend of gaming in the country” said Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO and Consumer Business Head, Acer India. “Indian gamers mainly play Call of Duty, FIFA, Counterstrike, and DOTA, which are known for their high quality, action, and multiplayer themes that were developed in the western markets. Today the industry has come full edge with PC gaming taking center stage yet again. As the global economy rides the wave of digital transformation, the E-sport market in India is expected to generate a revenue of INR 11,900 Cr by the financial year 2023, growing at 22% CAGR. PC gaming is a promising choice among gaming enthusiasts, and this change can be attributed to factors such as affordability, enthusiast millennials, affordable hardware and software, and availability of improved internet bandwidth.”
Emerging highly professional and aspiring gamers in India are the true reason for brands to cheer. According to Vishal Parekh, Marketing Director, Kingston Technology & HyperX, APAC Region – India & Philippines “Gaming is not just an avenue for entertainment. With the emergence of competitive gaming, eSports is evolving as a viable career option for virtual athletes and aspiring gamers. Rather than opting for a 9 to 5 job more and more people are choosing gaming as a serious career option due to plethora of career opportunities that it has to offer. The increasing number of eSports tournaments is also playing a pivotal role in allowing armature as well as professional gamers to earn revenue, gain knowledge and create social connections. Endemic brands are also majorly contributing towards building a healthy ecosystem for gamers to help them in creating a sustainable lifestyle.”
Mr. Parekh further added, “Professional gaming is gradually growing in India with the improved infrastructure like increase in the number avenues for gamers to participate, increased internet penetration and rising purchasing power of the consumers. Brands like HyperX are purposefully working towards the growth of infrastructure by having tie-ups with local gaming cafes, extending its support to various local and national tournaments and empowering gamers with their high performing gaming peripherals. HyperX has always been instrumental in supporting eSports tournaments to build a competitive gaming community in India and cultivate a gaming culture in the country.”
On a global map, India has just started showing potentials to become top country in e-Sports market due to huge advancement in last few years. “When we look at the Indian gaming industry as it stands right now, it seems to be shaped up to become a big market. When I say eSport, it encompasses PC, mobile and console gaming. Though, it is still considered to be in the growing stage it ranks 16th and is already approx. $1.5 billion in revenue. China ranks no. 1 on the list with the approx. total revenue of $40 billion followed by US, Japan and Korea. It is evident from the gap that the scope is huge in the Indian gaming market. India is now looked upon by major companies and investing here” commented by Meenu Jain, Country Manager, Cooler Master.
The brands are extending their boundaries and putting huge efforts at a large scale in India to catch the opportunities with both hands. “It’s a competitive market- Gaming & content creation. Every day we see a new innovation, a new possibility brought to light. Gaming as a sector is booming tremendously along with the available career opportunities in the country. Looking at such a positive environment, gaming companies have also started to diversify and push their limits to incorporate more and more features in a highly powerful yet portable device. We at MSI have always been challenging our limitations and try to bring something innovative for our consumers in terms of both technology and utility. With our prestige series we aim to curb down the difference between high performance and chic aesthetics” concluded Shivangi Bhandauria, Marketing Specialist, MSI India NB.
Commenting on the scope for gaming brands, Manoj Kumar Pansari, Chairman and Managing Director, Astrum commented, “Over the years, Esports has full-fledged well beyond a catchy buzzword and a passionate subculture. From past year it’s seen that India is also making an aggressive entry in Esports field like never before. It’s fairly evident that the future of Esports in India is quite promising. Despite having certain setbacks – like occasional cheating scandals, its affiliation with possible gambling, along with skewed representation with regards to gender ratios – Esports has mostly positive things to offer to India’s culture and economy to foster and promote homegrown talent.”
Ashish Khokale, Marketing Manager-India for Component Business, MSI, said, “Esports in India, is bringing a brand-new dimension to the world of sports creating a huge scope for gaming brands to grow and tap into the potential market share of Indian eSports. Most of the brands are now introducing products that are specially designed for the gaming segment to capitalize on the growing market share. According to a recent survey, eSports is a top engagement digital platform globally, thus giving brands a variety of ways to interact with gamers and end-users through social media, live-streaming platforms, and in-person at tournaments directly through digital platforms”
Growth Fuelling Factors
The Indian eSports industry has registered quite healthy growth over the years and this growth momentum has been derived from crucial development during these years. The advancement in technology has also played a major role in expanding the reach of gaming to a wider audience.
“The growth of the PC gaming market is majorly propelled by the increased sales of PCs in Tier I and II cities of India and their affordability. The availability of low-cost internet allows teenagers to connect online and play popular games and compete globally. Growing roots of advanced gaming cafes across major cities in India is another major growth driver for this industry to grow at a good pace. Moreover, technological advancements in the gaming sector i.e. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality (MR) are expanding the popularity of gaming among youngsters as it gives them a real-time experience. As a result, leading brands are planning big for the Indian gaming market leveraging these opportunities,” commented by Chandrahas Panigrahi. “India has become a leading destination for gaming planners to organize big gaming events such as Indian Gaming League, ESL Gaming, etc. Acer as the market leader in PC gaming in India every year organizes Asia’s biggest eSports tournament “Acer Predator Gaming League” that attracts millions of gamers across the region.”
“Over the years, HyperX has been associated with ESL India Premiership which is the biggest tournament for eSports in the country and this partnership has successfully established and unwavering support towards gaming in the domestic scenario. Gaming championships like ESL have allowed gamers to create a sustainable revenue stream through winning prize pools of tournament and earn fame and reorganization through excelling at their passion” added Vishal Parekh. “Gaming is gradually growing as a compelling profession in India and there are gamers today who play different genre of games such as MOBAs, FPS, RPGs and compete for unprecedented prize pools. It is turning into a lucrative means of livelihood as these tournaments have exciting prize pools like for example, ESL India has a massive prize pool of over Rs. 1 Crore for the tournament winners.”
Shivangi Bhandauria added, “Technology is contagious, inevitable and ever-changing. We are witnessing a major shift in consumer needs and preferences; from conservative spenders to aspirational consumers. Furthermore, with new career opportunities flourishing in the market, this sector has really got the millennials hooked. Our end consumers have become well-read and understand the difference between a mainstream PC and a high end, high performing laptop. While such heavy processor and software oriented opportunities keep increasing the demand for such machines will always be persistent.”
The Indian digital gaming industry is growing rapidly with behemoths like Dream11, Mobile Premier League, Junglee Games creating their footprints globally. The primary reason for investors to take an interest in the e-sports section is because India is growing as a sporting nation and the people are taking an interest in building and popularizing leagues for Football, Kabaddi, Hockey, Badminton and other sports. It is studied that global eSports has increased majorly at the year 2018 and is forecasted to reach around 2 billion by 2020” said Manoj Pansari.
“In my view, there are broadly 2 factors, emotional and infrastructural. Gaming was not taken seriously in India and was always considered as a pass time hobby. Parents wanted their child to have a regular job. But now the perception of esports has changed. India is catching up on rest of the world now. We have world-class players competing on the international platforms. From the infrastructural point of view, with the advent of 4G and FTTH, and with access to high-end gaming components, consumers have now started getting serious and mean business. Companies have started organizing dedicated gamer-centric events and meet to boost this” said Meenu Jain.
Ashish Khokale added, “ During last few years we observed huge growth for this market which can be attributed to developments like exposure to global gaming events, access to good hardware & internet at affordable prices, community experience and accessibility to eSports tournaments, recognition of eSports as a profession & career in India, increase in number of events in a year, and most important boost in prize pool money.”
Channel partners play a very crucial role in the success of any brand so it becomes very important for a brand to form an effective channel strategy to attract maximum growth opportunities. The Indian gaming market has immense potential so brands need to work very closely with their channel partners in order to identify the opportunities and plan to encash them. The product knowledge and technology awareness among channel partners can help brands in placing the right product at the right time to right audiences.
“Our partners have trusted Acer as a brand who offers a powerful and stylish range of gaming laptops and desktop. With their support, we have become the No.1 PC gaming brand in India for 2019. As gaming is becoming more mainstream, the demand for gaming is growing exponentially” said Chandrahas Panigrahi. “We work closely with our partners to sell our gaming range products and through their support, we are seeing great traction in the India gaming market. More and more gamers got a chance to experience our products and understood our clear superiority against other brands. Our partners undergo frequent training and demos to help understand the differentiators and USPs of Acer gaming products. They play a crucial role in positioning Acer as a leader in the technology segment and has remained the key medium for us to reach our audience. We are extremely grateful to them for believing and supporting us throughout our journey. By introducing the right product to the right customer channel partners will always play a key role in providing extensive market reach and coverage to introduce the new technologies to the market.”
“At HyperX, we have always believed in adopting a channel-friendly approach so that we can grow with our partners. This business model helps our partners to evolve and grow along with the gaming industry, while we continue to strengthen the ecosystem ensuring that this will bring a lot more business opportunities. HyperX will continue to introduce a slew of best-in-class products for the gaming industry, bundled with creative marketing promotions, which would benefit both the channel partners and end users” concluded Vishal Parekh.
Mr. Vishal further added, “Our association with mega gaming events and gaming cafes alike, has also created an integration of business operations with the gaming ecosystem, crafted to build a profitable relationship which has helped in creating a robust and responsive network of partners in the country. In a dynamic marketplace that is India, our partners have emerged as a crucial element of our growth engine by bridging the gap between the customer and us by engaging proactively. Hence our growth plans for the future will be tightly enmeshed with helping our channel partners to develop a better understanding of consumer preferences through a more efficient model of communication.”
“You cannot build a brand without a strong channel support. By 2020, we tend to increase our channel partners to 300+ and 8 more exclusive brand stores across metro cities. In order to create a synergistic environment, we ensure a couple of prerequisites” commented Shivangi Bhandauria. “Routinely tech training for partners are organized to make sure they understand the benefit of our product and deliver correct information to our end users. Also, we keep creating and circulating info graphs which are easy to understand, about critical information of our products. We regularly keep revamping the shop with the latest information to ensure that consumers are able to get the perfect in shop experience.”
“Cooler Master is known to be one company who works closely with channel partners and gamers together. We appreciate feedbacks on product and constantly improve them to provide the best products in the India market. We have also recently launched a lightest gaming mouse, CM MM710. Being light it helps gamers play for long hours without any strain on their wrists. Or if I have to mention our new K501L RGB gaming case is the only one in ₹4000 segment with those features. Its pretty much for the budget gaming segment. It is combined effort of channel partners and gamers that we get proper feedback and we deliver them quality products” stated Meenu Jain.
Manoj Pansari commented, “We have a multi-pronged approach that includes several channel friendly schemes and policies in our journey towards a long-term association with our partners. We have created a professional eco-system, budding with our partners and outspreading our reach to right audience with right set of product. Recently we have appointed some big partners as super stockiest in Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Bihar & Gujarat. We have selected number of products in gaming sector and we are working on improving this sector with advance technology in the coming years.”
“As mentioned earlier most of the product segments that are being introduced are now related to gaming. MSI as brand already defines that in its tagline “Some are PC, We are Gaming”. MSI is closely working with its channel partners to understand the market requirements and enquiries that are being generated. Gaming being the fastest growing market segment now, we are introducing a lot products that are specially designed for the segment so that the end user gets premium gaming experience at affordable prices. MSI is currently offering a lot of promotional offers to end users where they get steam wallet codes for FREE, thus enabling and providing an opportunity to gamers to buy the game that they love to play” stated Ashish Khokale.
Challenges to Face
The eSports industry which is growing at a rapid pace in India is still facing some challenges in the way to grow further. The brands are nurturing this industry and are being very helpful to fuel it’s growth. But we can not only expect the growth without discussing the challenges to confront.
“e-Sports is a rapidly growing global industry which will continue to rise. It’s constant growth and expansion makes it an exciting investment opportunity for brands and their marketing teams all over the world. But this same growth and expansion can cause a few issues that some marketers and brands won’t be able to get past without a little work. Currently, the eSports industry in India is facing a lot of challenges in terms of not only community building but also infrastructure” said Chandrahas Panigrahi. “Right now, the Indian gaming industry is at a nascent stage and like any other sport, eSports also needs to have academics to help budding gamers develop their skills. Although 5G is in the pipeline, there is still a lot of catching up for it as fast internet is the backbone of the eSports industry. In India there are various challenges ahead for the eSports sector, on the functioning of the business model, ad spends and how advertisers can be benefited. Also, some infamous stereotypes surround the players and the industry, such as obsessive hours of playing and anti-social behavior.”
“To break it down simply, even though India, with its huge population of potential gamers that offers the biggest potential for the eSports market, the biggest challenge posed to the eSports market begins right inside our homes. The concept of professional gaming is still alien to most parents and even most gamers! Parents would much rather have their child qualify in technology and take up a well-paying IT job, than get involved with gaming, struggle with sponsorships and finally establish oneself as an eSports player” commented Vishal Parekh.
Vishal further added, “And on the outside, everyone wants to see it and experience it, but not everyone is willing to invest in it. Another reason for such a response to eSports in India, is that Gaming is seen more like entertainment to be indulged in during one’s leisure hours, and not as a serious sport, where considerable time and money have to be invested to sharpen one’s skills, professionally. India has also been a late bloomer in terms of taking up sports professionally. Parents today, may still support their child to take up a career in sports like cricket, hockey or even football, but they would resist the move, if their child decided to take up eSports as a profession. It is a fact that despite the growing popularity of eSports in India, there is still not much scope for professional gamers in India, as the existing infrastructure and the ecosystem does not support a lucrative livelihood for many. The Indian gaming ecosystem needs to still grow and mature, and while companies like HyperX are contributing towards this development, the industry is still looking at Government support to give this industry the recognition it deserves.”
“PC games have dominated the gaming industry for over 2 decades. But this is still at a global level, at our grass root level, gaming is still considered a taboo. There still exists a mental block and requires persistent education from the brand side. We at MSI handle such mental blocks at the base level i.e. college events. We try and educate the future of tomorrow and enlighten them about the huge career opportunity associated in this industry” concluded Shivangi Bhandauria.
Meenu Jain stated, “India right now is on the verge of expanding as a market with most of the hurdles slowly being converted into possibilities. Yet we have to work hard towards overcoming the remaining. India needs better infrastructure, easy access to better platform for gamers where they can explore themselves. India still awaits high speed internet, which surely will come in due course of time. But the process needs to speed up.”
“The rise in popularity and market size of eSports has also seen a growing number of online gaming platforms emerge. However, there are all too often drawbacks to these services, especially where earning from gaming is concerned, be it difficulty withdrawing funds, lack of transparency in the distribution of prize funds, and fraud on the part of third-party services” added Manoj Pansari.
“Currently eSports in India is at its nascent stage compared globally. There is a lack of acceptance of eSports as a profession or career because of the traditional mind-set of parents. Esports in India is still largely untouched by conventional investors because of lack of proper infrastructure and platforms. Resources and accessibility is an another huge hindrance to a lot of gamers from Tier2 and Tier3 cities. While there’s still lack of understanding, knowledge and acceptance of eSports in India, a new scenario is emerging thus proving that it’s finally catching up to the global audience,” concluded by Ashish Khokale.
As per the market experts and relevant data, this industry is expected to grow at a great pace in coming years. The entire gaming brands are majorly focusing on the Indian eSports industry as this market has huge potential. The big tournaments are coming to India and even the prize pool money is becoming bigger now. In coming days, we are expecting hardware to be more affordable, which can ultimately boost PC gaming culture in India. But the entire success lies in how we tackle challenges related to its growth which we mentioned in this story. India will need robust infrastructure to support the emerging professional gamers. Currently, the talents are coming from big cities as they have access to all infrastructures, but focus need to shift in smaller towns as well. This industry is still at the nascent stage and it will take time to mature but at the end it all depends on how big players continuous to support and invest in this market.