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Esports games are no longer simply a leisure pursuit. Over recent years, the gaming industry has made significant strides. Globally, it has emerged as a mainstream entity in both sports and entertainment, attracting sponsors, athletes and fans. The Indian government acknowledged it as an official multi-sport event as of December 2022, and confirmed it will be a medal sport at the 2026 Asian Games.
Its hotly growing popularity is evident, with an astounding 79% of the virtual population participating in video games. These are not limited to entertainment as they now serve a crucial role for many corporate marketing strategies. Video games also witness partnerships with well-known sports stars not just brands.
Indian sports idols like Neeraj Chopra, Rohit Tokas and Pramod Bhagat made their presence known at the BGMI India Series final LAN event, underlining the increasing intersection of traditional sports and Esports. Other Indian sporting legends such as M.S. Dhoni, Sunil Chhetri and Hardik Pandya have also joined the Esports trend, becoming advocates for games like Free Fire and BGMI.
The celebration of World Esport Day on October 21 was marked by enthusiasts discussing the evolution and influence of Esports, its entry into mainstream lifestyle and major international tournaments, and its effect on the video gaming landscapes of various countries.
Animesh Agarwal, Co-Founder of S8UL Esports and Founder & CEO of 8Bit Creatives: “The Esports industry, both worldwide and in India, has improved its capacity to attract sponsors and brands. This change is influenced by the immersive aspect of gaming, allowing brands to deeply connect with their target demographic. These dynamic interactions offer a unique prospect for brands to amplify their visibility and impact. Gaming has turned into a potent platform where brands can go beyond conventional advertising to engage with people, facilitating intriguing collaborations and expanded participation in the gaming domain”
Sahil Jakhar, captain of Team SOUL, winners of the Battlegrounds Mobile India Pro Series (BMPS) 2022: “Esports bear substantial semblance to traditional sports in terms of features such as discipline, strategy, and competitive spirit. Seeing stars from cricket, football, boxing, and athletics join the Esports world provides immense inspiration to athletes like ourselves. It establishes Esports as a legitimate industry among those who may still be unfamiliar with its impressive growth. Moreover, it motivates players to strive for success with the dream of achieving the same prestige as these sports legends.”
Lokesh Suji, Director of Esports Federation of India (ESFI) and Vice-President of Asian Esports Federation (AESF): “Following the inclusion of Esports in the Commonwealth Esports Championships and Asian Games 2022, alongside the initiation of the Olympics Esports Week, one can truly see the escalating visibility of Esports as a contemporary sport. Observing IOC President Thomas Bach’s favorable remarks at the 141st IOC Session in Mumbai regarding the development of the Olympic Esports Games, we can confidently state that it’s not a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when’ Esports will be recognized as a medal sport at the Olympics. Esports’ global reach and its power to unite diverse groups of people positions it as a strong contender for acknowledgement at the world’s ultimate sporting event.”
Akshaj Shenoy, captain of India’s League of Legends team that secured a commendable fifth-place finish at the Asian Games 2022: “Esports is increasingly being recognized as a serious career option with rewarding prospects in India. The platforms, support, and acknowledgment that we as athletes currently receive are unparalleled. It was a privilege for me to represent our country at the Asian Games in Hangzhou and I can confidently assert that aspiring Indian video gamers dream of competing at such levels. The Esports ecosystem in India is poised to gain hugely from this engagement through the emergence of fresh talent at grassroots levels that will amplify India’s presence on the global stage.”
Esports’ future is certainly bright. The incorporation of cutting-edge technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) promise to revolutionize the gaming experience. Spearheaded by industry mavericks, influential athletes, and an ever-growing fan base, the potential for Esports isn’t just restricted to India but extends globally.