5 trends in the Indian e-sports industry that we expect to see post-Covid

The e-sports industry is poised for an explosive growth thanks to live streaming of gaming content, increase in prize pool and adoption of AI, ML and Big Data to glean insights into gamers’ performance levels and audience participation.
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While the pandemic has in recent months caused doom and gloom for many traditional industry sectors of our country, for the e-sports industry, on the contrary, it came as a major boon. Online gaming and e-sports witnessed exponential growth during the prolonged Corona lockdown period and beyond, with most gaming companies and startups in India reporting an unprecedented surge in their traffic, user base and engagement.

As we prepare to enter the post-pandemic era, the booming e-sports ecosystem in the country is nearing the ‘inflection point’ and is ready for a ‘quantum leap’. At this moment, we are able to foresee a number of emerging trends that will shape the future of gaming and e-sports.

In this article, we are discussing the key trends of the e-sports landscape in India that are expected to dominate the market in post-Covid times.

Livestreaming propelling rise in viewership

In recent months, the gaming and e-sports livestream market in our country has been growing by leaps and bounds. Thanks to the emergence of multiple streaming platforms, both amateur and pro gamers of the nation are able to stream their gaming content in real-time, showcase their talent to the world and earn money, while also building a loyal fan base of their own.

The buzz witnessed around PUBG in India in the last few years had laid down a blueprint in front of us showing how large the gaming community can grow, and even after the recent ban on PUBG, the community is finding new ways to play, interact, innovate, and flourish together.

As the popularity and consumption of gaming livestreaming content in India continues to rise, we anticipate that in the near future Indian gamers will reach more and more audiences through the streaming platforms, regional language-based game streaming will explode, and the overall viewership numbers will continue to spike.

Increase in prize pools

The rewards and prize pools for e-sports tournaments/championships in India are soaring to new heights year-on-year. Be it with individual or squad-based gaming tournaments, professional gamers can churn up to several lakhs of rupees just by acing one single tournament.

The Covid lockdown showed us that whopping amounts of money can be earned by skilled gamers even through participation in online-only multiplayer e-sports tournaments. With inter-regional/inter-city (somewhat IPL-like) e-sports tournaments and brand sponsorships on the rise, the hefty rewards and prize money involved is encouraging many to pursue a full-time career in e-sports.

Going forward, the prize pools across various categories of e-sports will only continue to increase furthermore, thus presenting lucrative opportunities for budding gamers who are really quite serious about their sport.

Collegiate e-sports kick off

In various European countries and in the US, e-sports at the high-school and college-levels became immensely popular during the Covid-induced shutdown periods. As social distancing protocols continue to remain in effect, academic institutions globally are looking at ways to educate and entertain students through e-sports.

To that end, they have started building curriculums and communities around e-sports and video games and are even hosting in-house tournaments, matches and e-sports events. Taking a cue from western countries, collegiate e-sports have started gaining ground in India as well.

The day is probably not far when several colleges and institutions in India may be offering e-sports degrees, handpicking and coaching the best players and/or forming e-sports clubs, teams, and academies too.

More eyeballs, more financial bloom for e-sports

Of late, the Indian e-sports scene has started garnering global attention. A lot of international e-sports organisations are now entering the Indian market and investments in this industry are going through the roof. After all, e-sports in India is already a multi-billion-dollar-worth industry, and it is one of the fastest-growing industries in our country.

Taking note of the immense ROI potential and the devoted youth audience of e-sports, small and big brands (including both gaming and non-gaming companies) are jumping into the fray in a bid to drive visibility. Apart from running paid ads on popular e-sports platforms, brands are finding creative avenues to promote products or services through in-game promotions and brand theme integrations, tie-ins/sponsorship with popular e-sports streamers, teams and tournaments, and so on.

In the months and years to come, the Indian e-sports industry is therefore expected to continue receiving solid monetary backing and growth through sponsorships and advertisements and investors, and monetisation of e-sports will be happening extensively like never before.

Deep-tech embraces gaming

Another exciting, futuristic trend we have observed recently in the online gaming space is the enhanced utility of deep-tech.

Novel technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Big Data are being increasingly used to measure and gather insights on e-sport athletes’ performances, audience interaction and participation, etc. and to optimise user experience and/or devise better strategies vis-a-vis various corners of the e-sporting ecosystem.

At the same time, AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) is turning gaming more interactive, stimulating and realistic. India being a flourishing hub of deep-tech startups and a country prioritising innovation, cutting-edge deep-tech can become the “next big weapon” to disrupt the nation’s e-sports industry.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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