online gaming: From Tokyo Olympics, to the Budget, gaming companies find new supporters

Things are looking up for online gaming in India. For the first time ever, the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics (AVGC) sector found mention in the Union Budget speech.

The Budget 2022 proposal to set up a promotion task force for the AVGC sector struck an encouraging note for gaming businesses in the country. It also provided a sense of legitimacy to an industry that had long felt ignored.

Growth potential

AVGC is a sunrise sector in India today. The gaming market alone was valued at approximately $1.89 billion in 2020. This figure could reach $4.01 billion by 2026, achieving a CAGR of 16.22% in the forecast period of 2021–2026. These are staggering numbers, especially when you consider that this kind of an industry did not really exist before 2020. The COVID-19 lockdowns proved instrumental in bringing the gaming market onto the growth path.

Being stuck at home for weeks on end, many turned to the Internet for diversion from WFH pressures and household chores. Crores of people—notably the younger demographic—discovered online gaming as a brand-new option for personal entertainment. Growing internet penetration and affordable smartphones provided the extra nudge.

Career options

The online gaming industry in India is expected to generate a whopping 60,000 to 80,000 jobs by 2025, according to a report by IAMAI, RedSeer, and OnePlus. While that is great news for gamers, there will be opportunities for non-gamers too. Illustrators, creative writers, and software developers could find roles in game creation. There will also be jobs for casters, streamers, league ops managers, analysts, and agents, among others.

The attitudes around gaming are changing as well. Parents used to worry about kids spending too much time playing video games. That could soon be a thing of the past. More parents are beginning to view gaming as a serious career option with good prospects for their children.

New community

Esports is nothing short of a buzzword these days. There is massive interest in competitive gaming tournaments that are live-streamed to a global audience. Even the Tokyo Olympics of 2020 featured virtual gaming as part of its pre-game series, and esports will be a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou.

With 20 million supporters, the esports community in India is growing at a fast clip. Estimates suggest esports fans within the country could number 100 million in just three years’ time.

Besides, the appeal of esports goes beyond watching pro gamers at play. Choose who you want to be in the game and instantly become part of the metaverse! Esports is the new social media, allowing you to interact with like-minded people from across the world. It reminds me of the early days of Facebook, when a digital profile allowed you to be anyone and meet anyone.

beyondgames

Introducing new games to esports fans is our priority at EsportsXO. However, as early movers in the industry, we want to push the gaming revolution to the next level. And the way forward is through learning modules.

Gamified learning modules can help improve learner motivation and engagement at educational and corporate organizations. Such modules encourage users to learn at their own pace. Users can also apply newly acquired knowledge through interactive setups within the module, which boosts knowledge retention.

The road ahead

Even corporate giants are making inroads into gaming now. Microsoft set a tech industry record with its $69-million acquisition of video game publisher, Activision Blizzard in January 2022. Days later, Netflix declared its aim to expand into the games industry. Disruptive ideas could be just around the corner.

This is all good news for gaming companies in India. But there remain some big challenges.

Indian users are less likely to pay for games than players in more mature markets, which could test the 400-odd gaming companies operating in the country at present. Besides, as gaming remains a niche business with no big-name employers, gaming jobs may not be the first choice for many talented young professionals.

On the plus side, investors and brands are beginning to realize the potential that esports has to offer. However, compared to mainstream sports, virtual gaming still has much to prove. Game developers could lead the charge here. By providing tech startups with access to developer tools, game developers could support small companies in building an immersive experience for their customers.

Governmental intervention through the AVGC task force and a strong regulatory framework, coupled with favorable taxation and funding policies, should bring further encouragement for gaming businesses. Add to this growing internet penetration in the hinterland and 5G deployment. The gaming sector is poised to take its next big leap.

(The writer is Co-Founder of EsportsXO, a startup that’s building a tournament discovery platform for over 600 million passionate competitive players across the globe)

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