The esports industry was slow to begin investing in the Indian market, with markets in South East Asia, North America, and Europe seeing the bulk of investment throughout the 2010s. In the last few years, this has changed though, as brands have begun to see the value that the Indian market has.
In recent weeks there have been several announcements about the launching of a new esports scoring system in India. At the end of May, NODWIN Gaming and Airtel announced that they would be joining forces to launch the “Airtel India Esports Tour”, which will create the country’s first national ranking for Indian esports players who take part in NODWIN esports events.
Airtel will also broadcast coverage from NODWIN tournaments, featuring popular games like Clash of Clans, FIFA, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and CounterStrike: Global Offensive.
Other brands have been joining in too. In early June, energy drink giant Red Bull announced a partnership with streaming service Loco to broadcast esports events across India. Red Bull already operates several leagues in India, including Red Bull Flick CounterStike: Global Offensive.
Another recent announcement was one from OnePlus and Fnatic that the companies were working with Indian cricket stars and professional esports players. Members of the public could enter to play PUBG Mobile against these celebrities for the chance to win an OnePlus 8 Pro smartphone.
Indian Gaming Market
This investment in esports across India has come from the rise in popularity of video gaming in the country. One of the biggest drivers of this is mobile gaming, with more than 220 million Indians playing video games for an average of 42 minutes each day.
It’s expected that around half of Indians could be playing mobile games over the next few years, leading some to predict that the mobile gaming market will exceed ₹3000 crores by 2020. This would make it the fifth-largest market in the world.
When combining mobile gaming, PC gaming, and console gaming together, it’s estimated that there will be more than 600 million players in the country. More than the entire population of the United States and the European Union.
On top of this, recent innovations have allowed players of online poker and other casino games in India to play online poker with friends from home. With 80% of Indians placing at least one bet per year, these online services have a huge scope for growth.
Building Market Share
Many of the companies getting involved in these esports events are doing so because there’s so much money at stake. Acer has been holding and sponsoring esports events in India for several years now.
In 2019, it held the PUBG Tournament final of its Acer Predator Gaming League in Bengaluru. It plans to do the same again in 2020. There are also qualifier events in India for the Asia Pacific Acer Predator League.
Acer has gained a lot from this investment. In 2018 and 2019, the company was the “No. 1 PC Gaming Brand” in the country. This includes the sale of desktop computers, laptops, monitors, and other computer and gaming peripherals.
Red Bull also has a dominant position in the Indian energy drinks market. According to Food Buddies, the Austrian company commands 75% of the market share, outperforming the United States and global markets where Red Bull has 62.6% and 47.3% of market share respectively.
OnePlus’ involvement is also to help it build its market position in the country. It is the best selling premium smartphone brand in the country and plans to launch a new device for the Indian and European markets only in July 2020.
Although brands were late to the metaphorical game with esports in India, they have quickly come to realize how much potential there is in the market and have begun investing heavily. For brands that have, this has paid off, as evidenced by Acer, Red Bull, and OnePlus. Given the potential for growth in the country, it’s likely we’ll see more of this in the coming years.
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