By Abhishek Madhavan

The COVID19 pandemic has brought about a transformation to every industry in the world and the esports industry is no different. The lockdown fueled this already-burgeoning industry.  The 300 million-strong gamer market is set to grow up to 440 million gamers by 2022. The industry has made way for new innovations and technologies to give a seamless and unique experience to gamers across the country. The industry further sought to bring in new strategies that paved the way for growth in the sector such as the adoption of AI, ML, Big Data, live streaming of gaming content, and an increase in prize pools in tournaments or leagues. Further, investments are also on the rise in the gaming and esports industry. Check out the top trends that are expected to drive the future of the esports industry post Coronavirus pandemic.

● Rise in live streaming: The rise of online gaming and esports, along with live streaming offers gamers the opportunity to showcase their skills, entertain themselves with gaming content as well as earn money on platforms. Starting with PUBG, the live streaming universe has expanded to games like Rogue Heist, COD etc. It showcases the potential of growth for the industry, and today with more gaming apps and games coming into play,  pro players now create a loyal fan base of their own. Post the recent PUBG ban, the community is looking for new ways to innovate, play, interact and flourish together. Further, in a country as diverse as India, regional language-based game streaming will see an uptake, and will result in a spike in the number of active gamers and streamers on board.

● Higher Cashrewards/ increase in prize pool: Year on year, the rewards and prize pools in e-sports tournaments/leagues in India have seen an increase. Be it with individual-based tournaments, or multiplayer based tournaments, skilled gamers can earn lakhs in just a single tournament. For example, in the recently-concluded College Premier League (CPL) organised by MPL, the total prize pool was Rs 1 crore. These big prize pools not only attract talented gamers from different parts of the country but will also  continue to create more opportunities for other stakeholders in the ecosystem such as game developers, gaming studios as well as brand sponsorships. Popular inter-regional/inter-city tournaments encourage players to pursue esports as a full-time profession. This presents worthwhile prospects for budding gamers who have resorted to esports very seriously.

● Boost in College leagues and Tournaments at a Grassroot Level: There is a significant rise in the multitude of games and platforms, for players of all skill levels in college leagues and tournaments. The shutdown of live sports encouraged professional sports leagues to esports tournaments, which are broadcasted on game streaming platforms today. As social distancing is the new normal, and with education shifting to virtual classrooms, institutions globally are now scouting for ways to educate and empower their students through e-sports. Educators have started creating communities focused around e-sports at large, even hosting in-house college or school tournaments, matches and e-sports events. Social gaming is the new kid on the block, thus providing an opportunity for students to explore careers in esports. The day is not far away when there would be degrees or certifications to become a professional in esports. This trend has accelerated the expansion of esports in India’s Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and beyond. In the case of Rogue Heist, which is India’s first home-made First Person Shooter game, more than 80 per cent of games played right after it was launched were in Tier 2 cities and beyond. 

Technology & Innovation: There is no doubt that technology has played a long-standing role in online gaming growth. The mobile gaming industry is backed by deep-tech such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Big Data, and quantum computing, which are constantly gathering data from players’ interactions and performance on gaming apps, which helps in analyzing insights to bring new and attractive strategies making it more experiential for the gamers in the esports eco-system. The use of AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) has transformed gaming into an interactive, stimulating, and realistic experience, where India is now recognized globally as one of the top markets in gaming. These cutting edge technologies and innovation will truly change gaming, making India a gaming superpower!

The writer is the SVP, Growth and Marketing at Mobile Premier League