Esports as an industry for investment has seen significant interest from both financial institutional investors and existing companies in the last year
By Shivani Jha
With the end of the Olympics 2020 and good performance by Indian athletes, the focus on sports seems to have been regained in India. Apart from on-ground athletic events, Olympics 2020 was also a platform for Esports athletes as it was the beginning of the inclusion of Esports in the Olympics in the ‘Olympic Virtual Series’.
The Olympics may be over, but we are now also going closer towards the Asian Games 2022, which will be a multi-sport event to be held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China from 10-25 September, 2022. What will also be a landmark movement in the field of sports is that Esports will be a medal event in the Asian Games 2022.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) have announced a new program, ‘Road to Asian Games’ for the same.
Esports as an industry for investment has surely seen some significant interest from both financial institutional investors and existing companies in the last year.
Recently, Meliora 42 Esports (M42 Esports), a Singapore-based organisation that has teams in multiple games in Singapore, the Philippines and Europe have decided to invest in Indian teams. The chief marketing officer of M42 Esports, Jesus Garbayo recently announced an investment of around $750,000 over the next three years to help the growth of the Indian esports ecosystem.
JetSynthesys, a technology company that is part of the Jetline group and has made several investments in the field of Esports in the past, acquired a Chennai-based company, Skyesports. Skyesports is one of India’s largest ‘grassroots play’ esports companies. Jet Skyesports Gaming Pvt. Ltd., has been created with a vision to build esports at the grassroots level in India, ahead of the Asian Games 2022.
According to a report published by Ernst and Young, in June 2021, titled ‘Ready Set Game on’; the esports industry in India is expected to grow at a 46% cumulative average growth rate. Moreover, the predicted industry size is to increase over fourfold from Rs 2.5 billion in 2021 to Rs 11 billion by 2025.
India’s first-ever Esports Premier League which kicked off on August 16, 2021, witnessed the unveiling of the teams by seven state ministers. At a time where the Esports industry is very nascent, the participation of state ministers is of course a great show of support.
While International sports organisations, as well as Indian corporates, are recognising the need to invest in this sector, there is still a lack of government regulations and the recognition of ‘Esports athletes’ at par with traditional athletes.
If India is to participate and win medals in the Asian Games 2022, the government needs to take some exceptional steps in the promotion and acceptance of Esports as a pure skill-based event. In a paper published by Niti Aayog in 2020 online gaming was defined, leaving out Esports. Parliamentarians like Kiren Rijiju (current law minister) and Anurag Thakur (current sports and youth minister) have acknowledged the existence of online gaming and esports and the need for regulations around the same. However, there is still a lack of regulation in this sector, which affects Esports players and developers alike. Not only that, in a country where sports is a state subject the government must also consider setting up national sports federations for Esports, as it does for other traditional sports that has international participation.
In light of international recognition and participation in medal events, it will be very interesting to see how would lawmakers define and accept Esports.
The author is a tech policy researcher and legal head at the Esports Players Welfare Association (EPWA). Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.