E-Gamers seek favourable policies to become globally competitive

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For the first time, eSports will be a medal sport in Asian Games 2022 and India has a great opportunity to make a splash at this mega sporting event. In fact, like in many sectors including telecoms and banking, India can leapfrog in gaming including eSports. Most players might have missed the PC or console era as it was too expensive or there was lack of infrastructure or connectivity, but what they all have now is a smartphone and are ready to compete globally. The big impediment between the players and global competitive events is the lack of thrust from the government. Now gamers, gaming companies and various stakeholders hope this will change soon.

Roland Landers, CEO All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) says, “eSports will be a medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games and there is a need to put in place a progressive regulatory structure to support the Indian athletes and companies.”

Asian Games 2022 are scheduled to be held at Chinese city of Hangzhou. Medals won in eSports will be counted towards the final medals tally of the countries winning them. In the 2018 edition of the Asian Games, eSports medals were not counted in the overall medals tally of a country. eSports recently received acknowledgment, but it’s still not recognised as a sport by the Ministry of Youth & Sports Affairs or the Indian Olympic Association.

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The last three years have seen a surge in gaming India with the last one year alone seeing a 20% increase in daily active users. The gaming sector clocked a revenue of Rs 7,700 crore in 2020 which is expected to double by 2023 to Rs 15,500 crore. The number of gamers in 2020 was 360 million, according to a March 2021 EY-Ficci report titled `Playing by New Rules’.

Gaming companies believe that if there was clarity in regulations it will not only help gamers but attract more capital — at least 8x to 10x more in the short term — from venture funds.

Sai Srinivas, co-founder & CEO, Mobile Premier League (

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) says, “there’s an urgent need to recognise digital sports and to create state and country chapters.” Much like such a structure exists for offline sports. This will not only help scale the game but also make it a viable career option for people. “Here you don’t need either a cricket ground nor do you have to step out of home. You just pick up the phone and be part of an event anywhere in the world,” adds Srinivas.

And there are enough models of eSports out there—South Korea, USA— which India can look at to create the right framework and help organise digital gaming.

AIGF recommends that instead of taking restrictive actions against online skill gaming the various states should aim to collaborate positively with industry stakeholders to develop a regulatory model that is in the best interest of all parties involved. An expert at one of the leading consultancies adds, “a lot can be done to promote gaming and take it mainstream once there is clarity.” eSports could also be a career much like cricket, golf, football or hockey and other sports. Mobile based sporting events globally are expected to grow 10X in the next two to three years.

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