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Cultural shift, govt support will help expand e-sports ecosystem in India: experts

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: April 10, 2019  | 18:13 IST

New Delhi, Apr 10 (PTI) Gaming in India has often been perceived as something that 'nerds' engage in, slouched for hours on their computers. But this is set to change with games like PUBG becoming a household name and global e-sport events like ESL One making their way into India, say experts. Industry experts believe that India is at an inflexion point where e-sports are set to grow manifold driven by trends like increasing affordability of devices, enhanced data bandwidth and growing acceptance of gaming being a feasible career option. Electronic sports or e-sports refers to competitions using video games such as multiplayer video game challenges. "The market for e-sports in India is getting bigger and not only is the number of players growing but also viewership. There have been a confluence of factors like improvement in infrastructure, a large young population, rising income and affluence," Intel India Vice President and MD (Sales and Marketing Group) Prakash Mallya said. According to a report by FICCI-EY, online gaming segment stood at Rs 49 billion in 2018 and is forecast to grow to Rs 120 billion by 2021, growing at a CAGR of 35.4 per cent. The number of online gamers is estimated to have been about 278 million in 2018. While the segment is dominated by mobile gaming, strong growth is being seen in PC and console gaming as well. According to Nodwin Gaming Managing Director Akshath Rathee, the ecosystem can be further grown in India with regulatory support from the government and cultural shift in terms of bringing in acceptance for gaming as a career choice. Rathee explained that apart from being a gamer, there are several other options available like being a commentator, influencer, coder, voice artists among others. These jobs offer salaries between Rs 50,000-2,00,000, he said adding that gaming is not about being hooked to the PC all day anymore. "Like any other sport, say cricket, one has to train and can't be practising 19 hours a day. There has to be some form of self-regulation. There are skills involved (for e-sports) and one needs to understand that," he said when asked about complaints of users getting addicted to games like PUBG. The potential of these tournaments can also be understood when one looks at the prize money involved. Cobx Gaming, at the Cobx Masters (an e-sports tournament) had announced a prize pool of about Rs 1.4 crore. Similarly, 12 Dota 2 teams will battle over a USD 300,000 (around Rs 2.07 crore) prize pool at the ESL One (powered by Intel) slated to be held in Mumbai between April 19-21. Interestingly, 23-year old Tirth Mehta had won the bronze medal for India in the demonstration sport at the Asian Games in 2018. Flipkart Vice President (Private Labels, Electronics, Furniture) Adarsh Menon said the e-commerce marketplace has seen a strong growth in sale of gaming devices on its platform from across the country. "The demand (for gaming PCs) isn't restricted to the metros but also coming in from smaller cities," he added. PTI SR MR

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