According to the report released by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), popularity of gaming, including e-sports, has surged through the pandemic that has restricted mobility beyond home. The category expanded 12% in 2020, even as the growth was curtailed by a ban on PUBG. But after the pandemic, there was an increase of 90% in the number of people playing esports, while viewership doubled to 17 million, hosted across 14 broadcast platforms.

The online gaming segment expanded 18% in 2020 to reach Rs 7,700 crore, said a FICCI-EY report. The number of gamers should reach 440 million by 2022, from about 360 million last year. India’s gaming industry is slated to become 10 times larger than all other entertainment businesses put together in the next five-seven years, according to Nitish Mittersain, CEO of Nazara Technologies.

But potential gamers are battling with multiple challenges. They include the lack of awareness about the ecosystem, absence of affordable infrastructure and misgivings about gaming as a serious profession. To be sure, e-sports will be a medal event in the 2022 Asian games. The International Olympic Committee has for the first time, this month, announced a global esports tournament, the Olympic Virtual Series (OVS), which will be held in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics.

Commenting on it, Sai Srinivas, Co-founder and CEO, Mobile Premier League (MPL), said, “Currently, e-sports is not formally recognised by the sports authority or the Indian Olympics Association. In the absence of this, e-sports athletes cannot avail the benefits including scholarships, sports quotas and others that athletes in traditional sports get. This in turn limits the number of people who can take up e-sports as a full-time professional activity, thus making it non-inclusive.”

Detailing about the gaming industry, Akshat Rathee, co-founder and MD, Nodwin, said, “Apart from tournaments, we also curate games on the popular online market Steam and roll out listings of casual and competitive games every now and then. We try our best to guide newer gamers and players with programmes, content and forums that are focused on career building in e-sports.”

Akshay Ahuja, Category Leader – Consumer Electronics & Personal Computing, Amazon India, said, “Interestingly, customers are moving toward high-end products like gaming laptops and are investing in more expensive accessories.”