Asian Games 2022, and investments

In 2023, an unprecedented year for Indian Esports marked by participation in the Asian Games 2022.

Multiple critical events and victories illustrated 2023’s significance for Indian Esports, with the defining occurrence being participation in the 2022 Asian Games. The year delivered global success, mainstream acceptance, and brand investment, all contributing to a promising foundation for 2024.

According to a report from Lumikai and Google, India housed a total of 568 Mn gamers in FY23. India’s gaming industry reached a $3.1 Bn milestone in FY23, and it’s projected to hit $7.5 Bn by FY28, with a 20% CAGR.

This historic year witnessed Indian esports players’ participation in the Asian Games 2022, where Esports emerged as an official medal sport. India’s League of Legends team secured a notable fifth-place finish. Concurrently, India’s leading Esports organization, S8UL, prevailed in winning the inaugural ‘Global Impact on Mobile Gaming’ at the MOBIES Awards, along with the ‘Content Creator of the Year’ award at the Esports Awards 2023.

Indian Esports’ key stakeholders reflect on the momentous year in the video-gaming industry

Mr. Animesh Agarwal aka 8Bit Thug, Founder, and CEO of 8Bit Creatives and S8UL, articulated on these landmark events, “The international acknowledgement, including our talented national team’s competition at the Asian Games 2022 and S8UL securing unprecedented victories, has elevated the industry’s prestige. The stigma associated with gaming as a career has been debunked, paving the way for ambitious gamers and endorsing Esports as a credible career option.”

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Several brands marked their entrance into the Esports realm in 2023, exemplified by the significant title sponsorship between IQOO SOUL and Team SOUL. Mr. Animesh Agarwal highlighted its implications, commenting  “The continued engagement of non-endemic brands, their breakthrough into the gaming sector, and the organization of official competitions have revolutionized the industry’s landscape. The title sponsorship between IQOO SOUL and IQOO underscores the expanding potential of Esports sponsorship with brands across all sectors. This entrance of non-endemic brands offers monetary backing and wider visibility to gaming creators, organizations, competitions, and other Esports events.”

The GOI’s revisions to the IT Act were crucial in differentiating Esports from real money gaming, providing the sector with formal recognition and leading to an increase in sponsorships and investments.

States such as Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh have implemented proactive measures, including the announcement of the country’s first Esports academy and tournaments. The incorporation of Esports in the educational curriculum further signals the embracing of Esports by educational institutions.

In reflection of these accomplishments, Mr. Lokesh Suji, Director of Esports Federation of India (ESFI) and Asian Esports Federation’s (AESF) Vice-President, voiced his thoughts, “The Esports arena in India has a bright future, thanks to the consistent efforts of ESFI leading to the Indian government’s official recognition of Esports as a multisport event, and its categorization under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in December 2022. Beyond this acknowledgement, infrastructure development is crucial for Esports industry’s ongoing expansion. The initiatives taken by our government and various states lay the foundation for potential financial support and infrastructure development in the coming years. Esports now proudly stands in par with traditional sports, inviting a greater base of players and sponsors to the industry.”

BGMI’s triumphant return after a short break was a significant boost for the Indian Esports industry. Underscoring the industry’s strength and development, Mr. Rohit Agarwal, Founder & Director at Alpha Zegus remarked, “Our focus in 2023 has primarily been on content solutions, and it proved to be an exceptional year for us. BGMI’s comeback led to a more than fourfold growth in the Esports industry, along with major investments from publishers like RIOT into the Indian gaming space. In terms of quantity, we generated over 400 pieces of high-quality content for our partners and experienced a 300% growth in content solutions compared to 2022. In 2024, our efforts will continue towards content solutions and experiential marketing, while we expand our reach to other regions and seek to improve the quality of our work.”

As Esports steadily rises to a worldwide phenomenon, the first-ever Esports World Cup 2024 is set to occur in 2024. The gaming scene is expected to witness a revolutionary shift with the entry of streaming superpowers such as Netflix and YouTube. The merging of these factors, along with other emerging trends, envisions a dynamic and transformational year ahead for Indian esports.

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