There’s no denying that we are at the forefront of what’s going to be another age of digital revolution. In the past, we’re used to hearing Western countries initiating if not, leading every transformation in the world whether it’s art and architecture or the startup culture of the Silicon Valley, we’re all used to having the first world countries on the front lines of so many monumental events in world history. But in this digital era, Asia is ready to take the world by storm as we march onto the burgeoning sphere of gaming, one of the fastest-growing industries around the globe today.
If you examine the global data on gaming, you’ll see that the biggest consumer in the gaming industry is China with $34.4 million in revenues. Consequently, Tencent, the largest gaming company on the planet that has a market share of 32.86% and has stakes in majorly popular games such as League of Legends, Fortnite, and Clash Royale is also based in China. Now, it may not come as a surprise knowing how China has evolved into the global powerhouse it is today, but more than that, we are also seeing other Asian countries catching up to this trend; and India, in particular, has been receiving a lot of attention for its dramatic increase in mobile gaming and its significant growth in the local eSports scene.
Getting the facts straight
The past decade has been a pivotal time for competitive gaming as it began capturing the attention of the global market in recent years, but no country has been making remarkable progress as fascinating and as appealing as the Indian gaming scene. From $253.6 million in game revenues in 2014, it gradually picked up speed to an astounding $1.1 billion in 2019 and is predicted by Statista to double its pace by this year with a projection of $2.4 billion. Is that too ambitious? We don’t think so. As a matter of fact, leading company in games and eSports analytics, Newzoo, reported that India has now secured the second spot next to China in the top list of countries with most smartphone users thereby accounting for 345,916,000 users with 25.3% smartphone penetration rate. For India, this means a bigger market brimming with so much untapped potential.
This widespread use of mobile phones can be largely attributed to lower price tags and more affordable data plans that are primarily driven down by stiff market competition among mobile phone manufacturers in India. In turn, more people were able to own a mobile device and internet connection has also been more accessible than ever. Actually, India is going to be one of the first few markets this year where the introduction of the 5G cellular network is underway so that is another thing to watch out for.
Moreover, the steady increase in India’s young population contributed to a bustling market willing to adopt new technologies. Add it to the fact that the rising middle class in India meant more paying consumers.
The Local eSports Scene
Obviously, more accessible smartphones and internet connection coupled with a growing younger populace and a rising middle class serve as the perfect recipe for cultivating a once bleak gaming subculture into a rising global major player. Based on a report published by Forbes, the once meager 25 native game developers in India back in 2010 has already multiplied to a significant 250 in 2018 and they’re continuously attracting investments from juggernauts in the field like Tencent, Nazara Games, Sequoia, Patym, and Moonfrog Labs among others–a strong indication of a dynamic and budding gaming industry.
As technology became more obtainable and convenient, more Indians have been drawn to play on their mobile devices thus sparking the interest of the public to eventually compete in virtual games. In all honesty, the games being played in India are no different than the ones being played on a global scale. PUBG Mobile, for instance, created a name for itself when it launched in India in March of 2018. Almost immediately upon its release, it garnered a huge sum of loyal following. Nearly right after its launch, PUBG Mobile Campus Championship was organized and introduced in the second half of that same year. The prize pool for a single competition at PUBG Mobile Campus Championship amounted to Rs. 50 lakhs. And last year, the prize money for PUBG Mobile India Series 2019 tournament climbed up to 1 crore accounting for the 40% out of the 180% total increase in pot money for overall Indian eSports prizes.
But, in spite of the extensive mobile gaming segment, we cannot discuss eSports in India without bringing up the first and most popular pro-gaming competition in the local eSports stage, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or CS:GO. As one of the longest-running games to join the eSports arena, CS:GO gave rise to talents like Ankit “V3NOM” Panth who is not only a professional CS:GO gamer but is also now a well-known streamer.
For the past few years, the Indian eSports landscape has been in tremendous growth especially just last year which is its strongest feat so far, when it reached a 180% combined growth across all prize pools for local eSports leagues. And now that more advancements in technology are emerging along with new game titles, we can only anticipate that the best is yet to come.