By Joy Bhattacharjya
\I remember meeting a lot of students pursuing degrees in computer engineering in India who would begin applying for an MBA course even before completing their engineering studies. Not that there were ever any dearth of jobs in the IT sector in India. But finding a creative opportunity in the sector was a challenge most students used to face in the country. But there has been a major shift in this regard, and now, even among NRI students, there has been a rising interest in returning to India to work in the tech industry. Fantasy sports has a large role to play in bringing around this shift.
Once a niche hobby for only sports enthusiasts, fantasy sports in India have now become an increasingly popular form of entertainment and sports engagement. The gaming industry has been deemed as the next sunrise industry due to its increasing user base and investment opportunities.
The Fantasy Sports user base grew at a CAGR of 130% between 2016 and 2021. India is currently the world’s largest and fastest growing Fantasy Sports market with a user base of over 13 crore which is further expected to grow at a CAGR of 32 percent to reach 16 crore by FY22, as per the FIFS-Deloitte joint report on FS sector.
With the advancement of technology and increase in internet penetration, the FS industry has opened up doors for a booming business market and is offering jobs across multiple sectors, further adding to its appeal.
As per the FIFS-Deloitte report from FY22, the sector has already pumped USD 112 million into India’s fantasy sports platforms with numerous start-ups competing to attract the country’s 800 million sports viewers. By 2020, the industry had created around 3,400 direct and over 5,000 indirect jobs, with a potential to generate 5,000+ direct and 7,000+ indirect jobs by 2023.
The growth of the gaming industry will also lead to the rise of Esports teams, organisations, and events, which will need employees for management, marketing, and event production. The Esports and gaming industry also provides an opportunity for the development of skills, such as teamwork, problem-solving, and strategic thinking, that are transferable to other industries. Thus veterans of this industry are in demand across a set of similar, high energy sectors.
As the industry grows, service providers & support sectors also benefit from the expansion. Creating a symbiotic module of progress with services such as fintech, cloud services, data analytics, and web development, the online gaming industry is also helping in the growth of these ancillary sectors.
Given the rapid wave of digitization and emerging technologies like blockchain gaming, Metaverse, and Web 3.0, more people are considering it as a career option. The gaming industry is now being seen as an important pillar of the economy. This sunrise sector is expected to create lakhs of jobs in the country.
With the advent of the draft rules for online gaming, the sector is now close to the long awaited regulatory stability. As such, with an improved inflow of funds, several gaming startup firms are expected to firm up hiring plans to support exponential growth over the next few years. Apart from its contribution to the overall expansion of both Indian sports and the digital ecosystem, the FS industry is also helping create future-ready jobs in AI, ML, analytics and related areas.
With more than 450 million users, the gaming industry is one of India’s leading growth sectors, growing with an ease of access, spike in new adoption, leading companies actively shaping market evolution with increased marketing spends.
For India’s online skill-based gaming sector to reach that stage, the country’s fertile talent pool needs to be leveraged successfully through investments in intellectual capital and education. Supportive policies and regulatory frameworks can create a safe and sustainable environment for India’s esports and gaming businesses to help seize global opportunities and stay ahead of the curve.
The author is Director – General, FIFS.
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