The esports industry is on the rise and gaining recognition in the eyes of the world as a serious sport. With the inclusion of esports in the Olympic pre-game series, followed by the Indian Olympic Association bringing MPL on board as a sponsor, the esports industry is now gaining the same respect as any other sport. “India is on its way towards establishing top-level players as well as game developers with a capability of designing the kind of sports that are going to play a big role in positioning the country into the global esports industry,” Rajan Navani, VC and MD, JetLine Group, said. He was speaking at the Esports: Breaking The Barrier virtual session.
This claim is on its way to achieve its full potential as in the 18th Asian Games, held in 2018, Tirth Mehta, esports player from India, has already brought home a bronze medal. Unfortunately, the medal was not counted or recognised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports or the Indian Olympic Association. However, as per Narinder Batra, president, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and member of the Olympic Channel Commission, this is going to change. “By 2022, we’ll be able to count and recognise the medals won at the international level by esports players,” he stated.
The esports ecosystem is on the rise not just on the players front but also on the publishers and developers front. As per the FICCI-EY report on esports in India released during the virtual session, as Indian game developers transition from developing social games to multiplayer games, Indian developers are expected to create games that are better suited for esports tournaments. “In the next few years, we are going to see more game developers coming up in India and building games that will become a part of the Olympics, Asian Games and other international tourneys,” Sai Srinivas Kiran G, co-founder and CEO, Mobile Premier League, elaborated.
With the esports players gaining international acclaim and the esports industry stepping into the mainstream, industry experts believe that it’s time for a dedicated central body. “As a sport, esports needs a lot of guidance and moderation. India needs a central body which will guide the sector towards the future and help it achieve its potential. This is primarily because of the confusion between the many subsets– online gaming, esport, fantasy sports. Hence, there is a need for the regulators to take cognisance of the difference and not paint everything electronic with the same brush,” Ashish Pherwani, partner, Media and Entertainment Advisory Services, EY, highlighted.
Expressing the need for clarity, Jay Sayta, technology lawyer, believes that the Sports Ministry should come out with a fundamental policy defining the esports sector with certain guidelines. “The need to have defined guidelines becomes more important as it will help in building a strong infrastructure for the industry which will enable our players to not only compete but also win medals at global events,” he added.
Manish Agarwal, CEO, Nazara Technologies, on the other hand, urges the government to not over-regulate the industry. “Market is large enough and capital investment in the market will itself create the ecosystem. In the next five-seven years, we will become an entity as big as cricket in India,” he stated.