Not just a lockdown phenomenon — Unleashing India’s competitive gaming spirit

India’s gaming industry is becoming an unstoppable force. Industry experts came together at YourStory’s Mumbai edition of TechSparks 2023 to discuss how India is becoming an attractive market for esports companies and investors.

Not just a lockdown phenomenon — Unleashing India’s competitive gaming spirit

Monday April 10, 2023,

4 min Read

The gaming market in India has been growing rapidly in recent years, with a significant increase in the number of gamers and gaming enthusiasts. According to a report by Deloitte India, the Indian gaming industry is estimated to reach a value of Rs 118.8 billion ($1.6 billion) by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 27.5% between 2020 and 2023.

“India is destined to be the second largest global gaming base, with 200 million viewers by 2025,” said Chirag Sanghani, Head, Media, Entertainment and Gaming Business, India, Google Cloud, at YourStory's Mumbai edition of TechSparks 2023.

Newer technologies like extended reality (AR, VR and MR), and the rise of streaming videos have led to innovation across new-age gameplay. We are seeing the emergence of key trends like play-to-earn digital economies, gaming in the metaverse, the rise of social and casual gaming, and mainstreaming of esports.

Sanghani shared that a social layer is emerging in gaming, at a meta level globally. “Initially, that was led by platforms like YouTube, Discord, and Twitch, but we also see this manifest in India with some local platforms. On the back of this social layer, we are seeing an increase in gaming influencers,” he said.

Together with influencers and this platform, a lot of innovation is being driven by the convergence of gaming and commerce. 

He said Google Cloud is already working with some gaming publishers and startups to bridge this divide between gaming and commerce through its technology, “like immersive content, interactive streaming, and secure payments”.

Data science and analytics play a critical role in esports, creating an intersection between data and sports. From making the space safer to understanding the performance and tactics of opposing teams, there’s hardly an area of sports today that doesn’t intersect in some way with tech and data.

Gaming has also contributed significantly to the development of artificial intelligence, which has become a crucial technology in the esports industry.

In Dota 2, a complex esports game, professional teams have faced off against an AI opponent called OpenAI, with the AI winning against some teams and losing against others and demonstrating that AI can compete with highly skilled gamers in a complex setting. 

FalconAI provides AI-based tools to improve the performance of esports players, including those who play League of Legends. Many esports teams, including Team Liquid, use machine learning to develop more effective training methods and objectives.

Aakash Kumar, Principal, Matrix Partners, shared his thoughts on how India has always been building software for the world.

“This is where the distribution advantage for Indian entrepreneurs will come in. Beyond AI-generated content, if we get into actual games being built, for example, dungeons and dragons. It has an immersive, storytelling format, and is done by people together. Imagine if you could render that in a digital format, just based on a prompt. That will be a big shift that we'll see in gaming,” he said.

Regulations in eSports 

Esports regulation in India is still evolving, with the government and various industry bodies taking steps to establish a framework for the industry. Even with several states rolling out individual Acts and Bills in a bid to manage and regulate the fields of online gaming and esports, several shortfalls exist in the system. 

Nitish Mittersain, Founder and CEO, Nazara Technologies, said it has become imperative to set out regulations that help govern and prevent malpractices in the esports arena.

“A lot of money is going to be involved in an industry like esports that has the capacity to become one of the top sports in India like any other spectator sport. It’s crucial to ensure that proper regulation and appropriate checks and balances are in place. This will [ensure] that the industry emerges strongly,” Mittersain said.