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COVID-19: A slingshot for eSports and online gaming

Krishna Mani Rao 

22nd September 2020

Dota eSports (Source: Deccan Herald)

India is currently ranked seventeenth in the world in the e-sports market according to The Bridge, and the pandemic has significantly increased the rate of online participation in India. 

Big organisations like PUB-G mobile, Call of Duty mobile and Garena Free Fire got a lot of traction and attention from the Indian Market and they became the most watched on YouTube and multiple other gaming platforms. The Economic Times reported that popularity of online gaming skyrocketed during the pandemic due to the lockdown forcing many Indians to look towards online gaming. According to Google-KMPG, e-gaming is expected to become a billion-dollar industry in India by 2021.

Many online games have made strides to engage their consumers more in this world— Fortnite held online ‘concerts’ on its game client featuring artists Travis Scott and DJ Marshmello. The players would log onto the game at a given time and would be able to attend it live. This social gathering on game platforms could mark the beginning of multiple future concerts and performances that would take place where people maintain social distancing and are safe during this pandemic. 

There are various reasons why e-sports has broken ground in India despite initial reluctance— the high numbers of younger people and the increasing access to internet every day can be considered as the biggest ones.

India is a market with many young consumers. According to the Hindustan Times, most participants in e-sports are between ages 18 and 24. There is also an increase in urbanisation even in small towns and villages, which furthers the growth of this industry. With internet accessibility growing by the day, new markets and demographics are constantly coming to the limelight. According to a recent report by the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports, the e-gaming and e-sports market is at an all-time high of nearly 90 million users.

According to The Week, major e-sports titles like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Dota and PUB-G saw a huge rise in the number of players in the months of the lockdown. With the case of PUB-G however, PUB-G corporation, the creators of the game, reached an obstacle with the ban of PUB-G mobile in India. While the ban remains permanent for now, a report in the Hindu Business Line claimed that Reliance Jio is in talks with PUB-G corporation to buy and bring back the game to India.

The publicity around these video games is constantly shifting and changing as the country comes closer and closer to opening. The question that now holds the gaming community is if these rather numbers will retain post the pandemic or if it will dwindle down as the people leave their homes.

Sources: Hindustan Times, The Week, Economic Times

Edited by Varun Paleli Vasudevan

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