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"Esports' already broken the barrier of niche to mass with 350% more watch-time on OTT"

Though still nascent in India, Esports is booming. The technology, graphics, number of players and genres have seen tremendous growth in the last few years. While earlier gamers were restricted to their PCs, today serious gaming happens not only on consoles, but on mobile phones as well.

Games like PUBG and Call Of Duty have taken the global market by storm and India has definitely played an important part in this growth. Today, Indian gamers are well renowned and have won at various Esports competitions globally. Several studios are looking at the Indian market in an extremely serious way with investments and more.

Games like PUBG, COD, Dota and FIFA have allowed several Indian players make a name for themselves in the global scene and India is no longer lagging behind the rest.

India being an extremely interesting market for gamers and gaming studios, there’s definitely a question of what’s next. Therefore, continuing with our much appreciated #TwitterChat series, Adgully turned the focus to ‘How can Esports in India get the much needed boost?’ Stalwarts from the gaming and Esports industry discussed on wide-ranging issues concerning technology, monetisation and the way ahead for the Indian Esports industry.

Joining in the discussion were:

Dr Rushindra Sinha, Founder,Global Esports (moderator) (@rushindrasinha)

Parth Chadha, Founder & CEO, EWar Games (@parth27402105)

Yash Pariani, CEO & Founder, Indian Gaming League (@YashPariani)

Ishaan Arya, Co-founder, The Esports Club (@captainarya)

Gautam Virk, Co-Founder & COO, Nodwin Gaming (@NodwinGaming)

Apart from the panel, we also had Twitteratis joining and giving their perspective on this interesting discussion on the Esports industry.

Sinha began the round of questions by asking the impact of COVID-19 on Esports.

Manish Chawla responded by saying, “COVID gave the exposure to the Eesports world it needed. Definitely there are a lot of games that are amazing, but due to lock of setup they haven’t gone to the peak, but due to COVID people really got time to explore something they’ve always enjoyed as a kid but never got time to devote.”

Giving his perspective, Arya said, “As an industry, we’ve been rather fortunate to have been able to pivot quite easily and adapt to the full online formats. Overall participation and viewership have both gone up by a good amount given the lack of outdoor entertainment options.”

Tweeting from the Nodwin Gaming handle, Virk said, “COVID situation propelled the rise of Esports by penetrating the large chunk of casual gamers, which brought in a never-seen-before engagement, but also deprived us of all the great LAN events across the global.”

Vatsal Uniyal, VP at Global Esports, tweeted, “From traveling around the world to just staying at Bootcamp, things have changed drastically. The major impact would be on viewership and participation for all the games across the globe.”

Talking about the growth of Esports, Pariani said, “Covid has accelerated the adoption of Esports and forayed into the mainstream. In the initial weeks of the lockdown, the numbers increased drastically as users scurried to participate in as many tournaments that they could to try to earn more and occupy themselves in the lockdown.”

@TheJediDude tweeted, “Esports was the only sports one could indulge in on a large scale basis. Games were a medium where everyone could connect, from friends to family and even colleagues. What this did in return was increase the viewership around Esports as the audience became more curious.” He added, “Esports also became one of the industries for brands to spend their marketing budgets on. With the viewership growing across Esports titles, brands which tilted towards traditional style of marketing are pivoting here. We’ve also seen investors take interest in Indian Esports.”

Rahul Hinduja, COO, Global Esports, noted, “Video gamers in the US reported that they spent 45 per cent more time playing and watching video games amid the quarantine and one of the greatest benefits of Esports is that it can be played without physical co-location of participants.” He added, “Taking that into account, the most anticipated Esports events are generally live events – a definite shift has occurred in both audiences as well as publishers worldwide to now find new and innovative means to make Esports as accessible as possible.”

Sinha then went on to ask the panellists about how can Esports reach out to the masses.

Arya replied, “I think with PUBG Mobile’s explosive growth prior to its ban in India and traditional sports exploring video games as an alternative during lockdowns around the world, the awareness has gone up significantly already. It’s just a matter of time now.”

Using the Nodwin Gaming handle, Virk said, “Esports has already broken the barrier of niche to mass with 350% more watch-time on OTT platforms like Hotstar and TV channels like MTV airing 4 hours of Esports content every week along with participation numbers rising with every tournament. The engagement and viewership statistics in the past 5 months has surpassed our expectations for 2020.”

Pariani gives his perspective and says, “I believe Esports has already significantly started making its way into multiple households, it’s gone from a niche to a global phenomenon.”

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