More than 136 million Indians consume sports regularly–one in every ten Indians. With 125 million fans, cricket leads the way, followed by football, kabaddi, and professional wrestling for second place.
A quarter-century ago, few in India were familiar with internet bandwidth, let alone cloud computing, storage, or computing power. The personal computer has only just begun to gain popularity in India, but esports could soon threaten its holy ground.
During the past few decades, video gaming has only grown even more. With advances in technology and telecommunications, electronic sports, or esports, have become a part of Indian sports and entertainment, where online accessibility and smartphones are reshaping the industry. Our article investigates whether esports will replace cricket as the dominant sport in five years.
India’s Esports Evolution
The popularity of cricket in India is without a doubt the highest, but esports are growing in popularity. The term esports refers to competitive video game competitions. For the uninitiated, esports may not seem like much, but it has grown rapidly in recent years. It is an industry that is ever-growing and ever-changing therefore esports fans must constantly read esports news on 22esport.gg and other sites to stay on top of their game.
The number of players and sponsors in competitive events is often in the thousands and sometimes in the millions, as well as the number of spectators. The esports industry is booming in India. Brands that want to build recognition in the country through esports can take advantage of the country’s 1.3 billion people.
The Asian Games are similar to the Olympics in that they host a variety of sports. In 2018, esports were included for the first time in a major sporting event. The event gave esports in India a boost when 24-year-old Tirth Mehta from Bhuj won a bronze medal in Hearthstone.
Aside from Hearthstone, there were six other games played at the Asian Games. The esports star Mehta inspired many more Indians to participate in esports competitions. As of 2023, the market is expected to reach $1 billion, up from less than $800 million in 2012.
The number of people watching esports competitions in India has risen to over two million, with another two million people describing themselves as ‘occasional viewers’. This number is nowhere near the approximately 700 million people who watch cricket in India every year, but esports have only been around for a short while. Esports will likely be as popular as, or even more popular than, cricket in India, and below are some of the factors that may contribute to this.
Regular Sports Cannot Match the Versatility and Adaptability of Esports
The difference between esports and traditional sports is indistinguishable. As part of esports, games are monitored; players play actively and use their talents to win championships. Achieving success in esports requires hand-eye coordination, attention, visual processing, executive function, and strategy development, just as it does in traditional sports. This perfect combination, coupled with well-timed responses to game stimuli, allows players to thrive and grow in the space.
Youth have steadily grown to love it as a sport, and consequently, brands have found it to be an attractive way to reach young, empowered audiences. In a way, it could be said that esports is the sport of the future. As our entire lives slowly shift online, the same certainly is to be expected of sports. We are entering a new era of entertainment and sports.
The Optimism of Brands Towards Esports
Many brands, including Coca-Cola, Mountain Dew, Red Bull, Mercedes Benz, BMW, and others, are on board with esports in India as a means of engaging audiences and targeting marketing. Additionally, brands can gain insights into esports viewers’ and gamers’ behavioural patterns and preferences. To connect with a growing consumer base, brands are investing in tournaments or online platforms as sponsors or investors.
Due to the demographic concentration of the younger population, esports games are likely to have an evident penetration with brands and messages. Also, brands will have the opportunity to change their image from one that is “older” to one that is “energetic and youthful”.
Brands’ optimism can also be explained by the potential for high monetization from esports. With a focused approach to esports audiences and gamers, brands can also facilitate conversions in addition to customer engagement. It is estimated that viewers of esports tournaments spend a dense amount on in-game purchases, merchandise, and tickets, reflecting their higher purchasing power, and making it more valuable for brands to participate. The interest of famous brands can help project esports to never before seen heights.
What Lies Ahead
A large number of international pop stars have been hosting “in-game concerts” as a result of innovative collaborations in the media and entertainment industries. These are virtual concerts performed virtually within popular video games like Fortnite and Roblox, among others. Games like these allow artists to reach a broader audience. Most of these concerts were free, but each attendee had to create an account for the game. In turn, these gaming companies benefited from an increased user database.
A vast marketing opportunity exists in the esports industry, and with the advent of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, brands are expected to devise ultra-creative campaigns. Technological advancements and innovation are poised to propel this industry to greater heights in the future.
As esports gains recognition, huge rewards, and popularity, it has a promising future in India. Developing innovative and immersive games is a high priority for gaming companies seeking talent. It is hard to say whether esports will surpass cricket in terms of popularity, however, it is evident that the future is bright for the esports industry both in India and worldwide.