Esports have been around for quite some time now, but it’s only recently that the Indian government has set a huge milestone by recognizing them as an official sport. On 23rd December 2022, The official recognition of esports was carried out by the Government of India which will now be a part of the “multisports event” category in India under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and a section related to “matters relating to online gaming” is added under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY). Earlier, President Droupadi Murmu had requested MEITY that esports should “be included as part of multi-sport events”.
We have been working tirelessly to define the distinction between esports and i-gaming, and our efforts have finally been successful. – Lokesh Suji, Director, Indian Esports Federation
Esports has been gaining popularity around the world, and India is no exception. With the growth of technology and internet accessibility in the country, more and more people are turning to esports as a form of entertainment and competition. This has led to a rise in the number of professional teams and players, as well as increased participation in international competitions.
While the exact rules and regulations following this announcement are yet to be laid down, it is still a landmark decision and today we’ll tell you how it all started and why is it such a big deal. In this blog, we will take a closer look at the Indian government’s recognition of esports, their plans for the industry, the impact of this recognition, and some of India’s recent esports achievements. This blog will provide a comprehensive understanding of the current state of esports in India and its future prospects.
The Rise of Esports in India: How it all started
The rise of esports in India can be traced back to the early 2000s with the introduction of high-speed internet and the availability of affordable gaming computers. With the growing accessibility to technology, more and more people in India were able to experience the thrill of competitive gaming. As the number of gamers in the country began to grow, so did the number of online tournaments and competitions. This led to the formation of professional teams and players, and the establishment of esports as a legitimate form of entertainment and competition.
The early 2010s saw the rise of esports tournaments and leagues in India, such as the Indian Gaming League, which helped to popularize esports among the general population. These tournaments provided a platform for players to showcase their skills and compete against each other, and helped to establish esports as a viable form of competition. As per recent statistics, the industry has grown to ₹250-crore in worth with as much as 600,000 players and 100,000 teams.
The increasing popularity of esports also led to the formation of esports teams and organizations, such as Team Godlike and Team Soul, which have represented India in international competitions. These teams and organizations helped to promote esports in the country and provided a platform for players to compete at a higher level.
In addition to this, the rise of streaming platforms like Twitch, YouTube and Facebook also played a major role in popularizing esports in India. This has allowed Indian gamers to connect with a global audience and showcase their skills to a wider audience.
The Recognition of Esports and Support Measures by the Government
Proceeding the official recognition, the Indian government has been taking steps to recognize and promote esports as a legitimate form of competition and entertainment for some time now. In 2018, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports included esports as a demonstration sport in the 2018 Asian Games. This marked the first time that esports had been recognized as a sport by the Indian government. Tirth Mehta bagged the bronze medal in Hearthstone at this demonstration event.
In 2020, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) announced the formation of an inter-ministerial committee to draft a National Esports Policy. The committee was tasked with creating a framework to promote and develop the esports industry in India. The policy aims to establish a regulatory framework for esports, promote the development of esports infrastructure, and provide a platform for Indian gamers to compete at the international level.
In addition, the government had also announced the formation of the National Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (NCCC), which will help to combat cybercrime and protect gamers from online harassment and fraud. The government has also set up a task force to develop a comprehensive esports ecosystem in India, which will include the establishment of training centers, incubation centers, and research centers.
Furthermore, the government of India had also announced the formation of a National e-Sports Federation of India (NeSFI) to oversee, promote and develop Esports in India. The NeSFI is responsible for creating and implementing policies, regulations, and guidelines to ensure the growth of esports in the country.
Major Indian esports Achievements
India has seen a number of recent esports achievements that demonstrate the growing popularity and competitiveness of esports in the country.
- One of the most notable achievements is the success of Indian gamers in international competitions. Indian gamers have been consistently performing well in various esports tournaments and have been winning medals for the country. At the 2018 Asian Games, Tirth Mehta represented India in the debut of esports as a demonstration sport. Competing in Hearthstone, Tirth was awarded a bronze medal for his performance.
- In December 2019, Entity Gaming emerged victorious in the South Asia qualifier of the PMCO Fall Split and placed fifth in the Global Finals. Despite aiming for first place, the team’s captain Abhijeet ‘Ghatak’ Andhare stated that their fifth place finish brought attention to India’s growing esports industry, giving it a much-needed boost.
- The release of Valorant in 2020 made it the most popular PC title in Indian esports, with the highest viewership. To acknowledge the potential of Indian players, a local qualifier for the Valorant Conquerors Championship was held in 2021. Velocity Gaming and Global Esports were the first Indian teams to qualify for the Valorant Conquerors Championship via this qualifier.
- The Commonwealth Esports Championships 2022 was a historic event for Indian esports, as the country’s DOTA 2 team won a bronze medal after defeating New Zealand in the tournament. The Indian DOTA 2 team Radiant, faced tough competition throughout the tournament. However, they managed to come out on top in their match against New Zealand, securing a spot on the podium and earning a bronze medal.
The Impact of Recognition of esports
The recognition of esports by the Indian government will have a significant impact on the industry. Below are some of the key impacts that are likely to be witnessed in the near future:
- Boosting Investment and Job Creation:
The esports industry has the potential to generate significant revenue from various sources such as advertising, sponsorship, merchandising, and ticket sales. The government’s recognition of esports will lead to an increase in investment in the industry, which in turn will lead to the growth of the industry and the creation of more job opportunities. This includes jobs in areas such as game development, event management, broadcasting, and content creation.
Our toys and gaming industry can play a big role in presenting India’s culture in a better way. -Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, India
- Increased Opportunities for Professional Gamers and Spectators:
The recognition of esports will also lead to an increase in the number of esports events being organized in the country. These events will not only provide opportunities for professional gamers to showcase their skills, but shall they also attract a large number of spectators, providing an additional source of revenue for the industry.
- Expanding the Gaming Community:
The government’s recognition of esports will also lead to the rise of online gaming platforms and mobile applications. These platforms have made it easier for gamers to access and play games, which will eventually lead to an increase in the number of gamers in India.
- Development of Infrastructure and Facilities:
The recognition of esports by the Indian government can lead to the development of infrastructure and facilities for esports. This includes the construction of dedicated esports stadiums and the installation of esports equipment in universities and colleges. This will help to improve the quality of training and competition for gamers in India.
We welcome the appointment of MEITY as a nodal ministry for online gaming. A uniform central regulation for online skill gaming has been a long-standing demand of the industry and this step will hopefully lead to a progressive regulatory framework underpinned by consumer welfare. This will help further grow the industry and make online gaming a cornerstone of Digital India. – Roland Landers, CEO, All India Gaming Federation
- Expanding the Indian Education Sector:
The recognition of esports by the Indian government will also have a positive impact on the education sector. With the recognition of esports in india, it could been included in the school and college curriculums in the near future as a sport. This will help to raise awareness of esports among students and has encouraged more students to take up gaming as a career.
- Boosting Tourism:
The recognition of esports by the Indian government can also have a positive impact on the tourism industry. The organization of esports events in the country could lead to an increase in the number of tourists visiting India to attend these events. This will not only generate revenue for the tourism industry, but will also help to promote India as a destination for esports events.
Esports has seen a significant rise in popularity in India in recent years. The Indian government has recognized the potential of the industry by officially recognizing it and is taking steps to support its growth. These include setting up National Esports Federations, organizing esports tournaments, providing funding for esports, and incorporating esports in education. These measures are expected to promote the growth of esports in the country and provide a boost to the industry.
As the esports industry continues to grow and evolve, India is poised to become a major player in the global competitive gaming scene. The country’s young and talented gamers, supported by the government’s recognition and investment in esports, are sure to make a big impact in the world of competitive gaming in the years to come.
You may also be interested in: Impact of Valorant on the World of Esports and Competitive Gaming