In an insightful exploration, Girish Menon, CSO at JetSynthesys, explores the crucial happenings of 2023 that have contributed to the growing significance of eSports in India.
Looking back, the past year stands out as a pivotal year for the eSports and gaming industry in India. The resurgence of India’s most beloved competitive game – Krafton’s Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), delivered a much-needed boost to the waning popularity of competitive gaming, particularly during the earlier part of the year.
Following this resurgence, a wealth of stakeholders in the industry – such as event organizers, streaming platforms, broadcasters and participating athletes – have reaped significant benefits over the past year.
Speaking to afaqs!, Girish Menon of JetSynthesys reveals that eSports event viewership has seen exponential growth and diversification in recent years. From a viewership of 9 million in FY19, it’s projected to skyrocket to 85 million by FY25 (Nearly 9x growth). This reflects its vast appeal to a variety of demographics including a significant Gen Z population, 41% female gamers, and a large demographic from non-metro cities. This growth is further supported by the expansion of digital infrastructure in India, sporting 881 million internet users and 821 million smartphone owners, which enhances both accessibility and engagement.
Menon further asserts that the rapidly growing entertainment medium has made significant strides into mainstream platforms as demonstrated by events garnering millions of views on streaming platforms and channels. “The broadcast of events in multiple regional languages, and the organization of grassroots tournaments further amplify its reach and awareness, paving the way for a more inclusive and broadly recognized eSports landscape.”
Government Recognition and Rising Brand Interest
A pivotal driving force spurring the eSport surge is its official recognition as a sport by the government.
“This recognition has catalyzed an amplified interest in the sector from all corners of the ecosystem, namely game developers, players, and the rest of the gaming community. It has also opened up various career possibilities, fostering a robust game and eSports ecosystem. Therefore, the numbers narrate an impactful story, casting eSports as an integral component of the digital entertainment scene, with viewers actively participating in and contributing to the dynamic eSports community,” he remarks.
Simultaneously, the past year saw an evolution in how brands approach the eSports and gaming, reflecting a growing recognition of the sector’s potential. These strategies encompass launching gamer-focused products and services, partnering with influencers and event organizers, and embarking on collaborative marketing efforts. They’re particularly successful given the substantial Gen Z demographics within the gaming community.
“This evolution manifests in the proliferation of brand advertising within the gaming industry involving well-established brands such as Microsoft, OnePlus, AMD, Logitech, and Intel, as well as non-endemic brands. The participation of around 80 brands in 2022, in a market estimated to be worth $65-70 million, underlines the extensive scope of interest in gaming,” Menon adds.
Events like the Skyesports Champions Series attracting sponsorship from Flipkart underscores the expanding appeal of eSports beyond traditional gaming-focused companies. This diversification of brand involvement highlights the industry’s growing allure, says Menon.
A Year of Successful Initiatives for JetSynthesys in 2023
Initiatives that have gained significant traction in 2023 include the Skyesports Masters (A Counter-Strike league), GEPL (The world’s first e-cricket league), Skyesports Championship 5.0, Skyesports Skirmish Series, Skyesports Champions Series, and Skyesports LUNA.
“The Skyesports Masters has proven to be a breakthrough endeavor in the Indian eSports scene, raising the bar for eSports competitions with its unprecedented prize pool of over Rs 2 crores. Our newest initiative – the ‘Global e-Cricket Premier League (GEPL)’ – also achieved considerable traction. With an impressive prize pool of Rs 2.51 crore, the biggest for an eSports tournament in Asia, the league provided a platform for brands to connect with a diverse and deeply engaged audience.”
In an effort to engage new audience sets, JetSynthesys has revised its event marketing strategy, adapting to new platforms and tactics that attract a wider audience. Previously, eSports tournaments were principally streamed on specialized platforms like Rooter, YouTube Gaming, and Facebook Gaming, while recently there’s been a noticeable shift toward OTT and TV platforms.
“For instance, JetSynthesys’ GEPL was broadcasted on Sports 18 and JioCinema, signifying a mainstream acceptance for eSports. This transition amplifies audience reach while attracting increased business for platforms involved in eSports, denoting a significant evolution in the marketing and perception of these events,” he underscores.
Despite the evolution in platform use, gaming influencers continue to play a crucial role in the marketing of eSports. Influencers’ strong connections with communities and their skill in engaging audiences remain key to promoting eSports, he adds.
“Their exceptional ability to engage with their audience is unparalleled. Skyesports, for instance, utilizes its vast network of influencers to boost event promotion and create engaging experiences for their viewers. These influencers play a critical role in ensuring the vibrancy and relevance of the eSports community, ensuring that events resonate with the target demographic,” he concludes.