eSports used to be a popular pastime for video game enthusiasts, but it has since gone on to become a lot more than that. It has started to dominate the sports betting industry, which used to be defined by the traditional sports such as cricket, tennis, football, and basketball. The eSports betting scene in India is becoming extremely popular and is driving the growth of the country’s gambling industry. Indians are now huge fans of eSports such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, PUBG Mobile, Dota 2, and League of Legends. So, what exactly are eSports, and what is driving its growth on the Indian Market?
A Quick Look at eSports
If you have played some video games before (we are sure that you have), then you are probably already familiar with what eSports are. However, if you are after more of a description, then eSports has been described as competitive and organized video gaming that sees professional players playing individually or as a team. As the newest and hottest market in the online gambling sector, eSports are games that allow professional players to compete against each other in a tournament format and give sports betting fans the chance to try and predict outcomes.
When it comes to popular eSports in India, it is safe to say that PUBG Mobile is the one that sits at the top of the popularity list. In fact, at this moment in time, it is not much of an exaggeration to say that PUBG Mobile is the most popular eSport in the world. PUBG is a game where 100 players are dropped into an island arena and they must dispose of each other using different weapons and equipment until there is just one player or team left standing. If you are a fan of Fortnite, then you will be able to recognise the similarities that exist between the two games.
Tournaments for eSports, whatever the game is, are played in halls and arenas and all the action is streamed live to the eager fans online. When it comes to viewership, eSports often get a lot more spectators than your more traditional sports. For instance, the League of Legends World Championship in 2017 attracted over 80 million viewers.
The Steady Growth of eSports within India
The rise of eSports in India is not just something we made up with no proof whatsoever, it is something that can clearly be seen by looking at numbers and statistics. The eSports industry is worth a staggering $1.5 billion a year and India is currently ranked 17th in the list of countries that bring in the most eSports revenue. The Indian eSports market is pretty much unstructured, but it is still worth $82 million a year, and this figure is only getting bigger and bigger. There are a number of reasons why eSports are becoming more and more popular, but two of the main reasons is that they are fun and exciting.
So, what are the specific factors that are driving the rapid eSports growth in India? Well, below we shall have a look at three of the main ones.
Rise of PUBG Mobile and Other Mobile Games
When you think of eSports, India probably is not going to be the first country that will come to your mind. However, over the last couple of years, the country has been making huge steps in the eSports betting industry thanks to the development of mobile games such as PUBG Mobile. One of the main reasons why the eSports industry was a bit slow to take off in India was because they were originally only available on high-end software, which is something that many people do not have access to throughout the country. However, there is one thing that plenty of Indians have access to and that is a smartphone. As a result, when PUBG Mobile was released it became a game that many people across the country could now play. In July 2020, PUBG Mobile had been downloaded 734 million times all over the world, and India was the country where the most downloads were carried out. There were 175 million downloads in India alone, which accounts for nearly a quarter of total downloads, even more than in China or in the United States.
In fact, one the reasons why a mobile compatible version of the game was created by the PUBG developers is because they realised just how big the mobile eSport market in India really is. When you have a product and you can tweak it slightly to tap into a millions of other potential customers, you would be pretty foolish not to do so.
Increasing Prize Money for eSports Competitions
There used to be a time where India was not a very popular destination for eSports tournaments, but all of this started to change in 2017 when Mumbai hosted DreamHack for the very first time. Then, the following year, DreamHack was held in Delhi. Both of these events had prize money of $500,000, but in 2019 this prize money had already increased to $1.5 million. The biggest event, when it comes to the cash prize that was on offer, was for PUBG Mobile. This significant increase in the prize pool means a number of things. To start with, it means that there is a lot of support from the partners. Secondly, it means that more people are motivated to participate in eSports because the rewards are very rewarding.
The Current COVID-19 Pandemic
The pandemic had a huge negative effect on a number of different industries and led to a lot of businesses having to shut down for good. However, there are a number of industries that have thrived during these challenging times, and one of these is the online gambling industry, especially the eSports section. During the height of the pandemic, most sports around the world were stopped, but eSports tournaments and games were still streamed online, meaning that all of those who used to bet on traditional sports turned their attention to the world of eSports because this at least meant that they had something to bet on. Many ended up really liking the eSport betting scene and continue to bet on it even though a lot of the traditional sport has returned.
It is safe to say that eSports are definitely going to be sticking around in India and they are still in their infancy stage in the country. However, with the support of industry stakeholders, players, and the popularity of mobile gaming, there is a very good chance that within a number of years the eSports scene in India will be the biggest in the world.