Name of the Game in India
Online gaming leagues are becoming big business in India, with mobile game publisher Nazara Games committing to invest Rs 136 crore in its eSports venture and serial entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala earmarking Rs 80-100 crore for setting up a tournament, reports Times of India. Online games that were once common in neighbourhood cafes and a part of local gaming tournaments are now bringing in big money with winners eyeing cash prize pools worth lakhs of rupees. Nazara Games eSports league will enable gamers hooked on online games such as Dota 2 and League of Legends to participate in tournaments, catch live webtv programs and chat on forums. The Mumbai-based company's investment in the venture will be spread over 5 years. "The league will have two seasons per year and six teams will be selected through free online qualifier tournaments, primarily focusing on games like Dota, Counter Strike and League of Legends," said Manish Agarwal, chief executive of Nazara Games. "For mid-core and hard-core gamers we didn't have an offering, so this is to meet that set of users."
eSports is slowly picking up in India as a growing number of casual gamers are turning professionals, with nearly 2,000 Indian online gaming teams being sponsored by brands and wealthy individuals. The number of tournaments and cash prize pools are steadily increasing. Domestic gaming startups including Nova Gaming Ventures, Nodwin Gaming, eGamers Arena and leading international players such as ESL are making investments in setting up national-level tournaments every other month, a stark contrast from what the situation was like a few years ago. Presently, three to four online and offline tournaments take place once a week in India, compared to two years ago when a tournament would take place once every few months.
Most recently, eGamers Arena exclusively partnered with World Cyber Arena (WCA), one of the largest gaming championships worldwide, to host the national qualifiers in India for a championship that will be held in China at the end of 2017. At stake is a $28-million jackpot that winners of online games like Counter Strike and Overwatch get to take home. "In 2017 and the next two to three years we are going to see both domestic and international gaming companies eye the Indian eSports gaming scene, which will pick up even further because of the growing number of gamers," said Ajay Shah, media and entertainment, transaction advisory services partner at EY. "As far as revenue is concerned in the initial stages, advertisement based revenue will be a major focus. Companies will look at acquiring players for now to grow the scene in India."
In May last year, ESL, one of the world's largest eSports companies, partnered with Indian eSports gaming company Nodwin to announce a domestic gaming tournament with Rs 42 lakh in cash prize pool.American gaming company Valve has also partnered with Indian gaming companies during tournaments. According to Nodwin CEO Akshat Rathee, through partnerships with brands such as RedBull and Mountain Dew as well as the Taiwanese government, the total prize pool of cash released through tournaments in India last year was nearly Rs 95 lakh. Globally, online gaming is touted to be a $150-billion (Rs 10 lakh crore) industry . The eSports industry in India amounted to over Rs 2,000 crore in revenue in fiscal 2014-15, according to Netherlands-based Newzoo, a gaming, eSports and mobile market intelligence company.