Living Out Of Games From mere 183 million in 2017 to 421 million online gamers in 2022, the Indian gaming industry has come a long way in the last five years.This massive growth has also led to a new breed of professional gamers and influencers in the country, especially in the esports segment.

By Priya Kapoor

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From mere 183 million in 2017 to 421 million online gamers in 2022, the Indian gaming industry has come a long way in the last five years. According to an estimate, in 2023, the country is going to end with 20 million more gamers. Also, the India gaming market size which currently stands at a whopping USD 3.02 billion in 2023 is going to see a significant jump of USD 6.26 billion by 2028, which is a growth of 15.68% CAGR during the forecast period.

This massive growth has led to a new breed of professional gamers and influencers in the country, especially in the esports segment which accounts for mere two percent of India's online gaming market. But things are only going to turn rosy for this segment as in December 2022, India officially gave recognition to esports in the country. The category will now be a part of the "multisports event" category in India under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and sports. Entrepreneur India reached out to a few prominent stars from the industry to understand what it's like taking a plunge in this industry and the downsides.

PROFESSIONALS

Of the 400 million plus gamers in the country, there are many who have taken to playing games professionally. Some notable players in the country include names like Akshaj Shenoy, who was the captain of India's Asian Games 2022 League of Legends team and Mayank Prajapati, India's Street Fighter V: Champion Edition athlete at the Asian Games 2022.

Shenoy whose team finished fifth in Asian Games 2022 and has been playing the game for about 10 years feels that anybody can participate in competitions to prove their skill, but there are many qualities that should be imbibed before anybody can become a professional player. "Resolve, determination, sportsmanship, and the ability to be a good influence are some of the qualities pro players are known to have."

Like Shenoy, Prajapati became a pro at gaming since he purchased Street Fighter IV back in 2009. "I started realizing the potential growth in gaming and sports specifically. I got to know about the Indian Fighting Game Community and made a lot of friends. I started competing in tournaments too and I have seen a significant jump in both the prize pool and the scale of the tournaments. The intense competition, the thrill of winning at the last moment, and the adrenaline of beating tough opponents in a stacked tournament are what inspired me to take up gaming professionally."

But both of them agree that professionalism requires a lot of practice. "Since Esports already requires you to have really fast reaction times you will need a lot of practice too with the game you choose to play in. India already has a lot of competition at the top level and only putting in hours of focused practice will let you stay on top and compete in tournaments."

INFLUENCERS

Besides the rise of professionals, we have seen many influencers emerging out of the gaming sector. Not only do they play, they stream the game and have gathered a huge following. Some notable names in this category are Naman Mathur a.k.a Mortal, Raj Varma a.k.a Snax Parv Singh a.k.a Regaltos, Payal Dhare a.k.a PayalGaming and Scout OP.

According to these influencers, being an esports athlete and a streamer can be demanding at times, "but then it is the sheer passion for gaming that keeps you going. For me personally, it has been pretty smooth as gaming has always been a comfort zone for me. When you are playing casually and not in a competitive mode, you can concentrate more on refining your content creation skills without the pressure of being the best at gameplay. Similarly, when you are a dedicated Esports athlete, you have to focus on grinding, creating new strategies, and establishing synergy with your teammates to emerge victorious in tournaments instead of streaming," says Naman Mathur a.k.a Mortal, who boasts of 70.1 lakh followers on YouTube.

Raj Varma a.k.a Snax agrees: "Finding a balance between streaming and playing is all about discipline and sticking to a schedule. I have structured my day to accommodate streaming, dedicated gaming sessions, and personal activities. This streamlining of my routine allows me to pursue both aspects of my career effectively."

According to Parv Singh a.k.a Regaltos, balancing streaming and playing requires a sense of punctuality and consistency. This is the key to ensuring that both aspects of my gaming career can coexist harmoniously.

Scout OP who got into the gaming industry back in 2018 has got a staggering 48.7 lakh followers. He plays a mix of mobile and PC games almost every day which includes BGMI, Valorant, and GTA V amongst others. "Occasionally, I also enjoy some console gaming such as FIFA for a change of pace. I spend most of my day on various work commitments, and when the evening comes around, I unwind by playing games and talking with my audience during live streams. It is a great way to relax and connect with my fans and the gaming community."

In this male dominated landscape, girls are not behind. Payal Dhare a.k.a PayalGaming who joined as a streamer on YouTube in 2020 has now amassed 33.1 lakh followers. Her everyday gaming list includes a mix of both PC and mobile games such as BGMI, GTA 5, Valorant, and more. She feels that. streaming and playing games go hand in hand, as they enhance the overall gaming experience. "They allow for real-time interaction and engagement with the audience, creating a dynamic connection with your audience."

MAKING MONEY

While gaming has its own charm, the big question that arises is: can one make a living out of it? Mortal says,."In today's world, the gaming industry offers excellent opportunities to make a living. However, it is essential to remember that you should not enter this field solely for the promise of monetary gains. In terms of prospects for mobile gaming, BGMI athletes in the country earn an average of upwards of INR 1 lakh per month." According to Snax Q, one can also look at other roles. "Even fields like game design and video editing are part of the industry's diverse ecosystem."

WHAT ABOUT LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY?

Says Shenoy, "Unfair taxation, widespread corruption, lack of efforts to distinguish fantasy games from Esports titles, and the presence of people resorting to malpractice are some factors that are holding the sector back."

According to Prajapati, it completely depends on the game you choose as a career in gaming. "The game I am playing is a fighting game and right now it's not possible to be at a level where you can make it your main source of income, because there aren't a lot of tournaments happening throughout the year. Even in the tournaments that are happening, prize pools are certainly not that big to make a difference. Things are changing for sure, but there is still a long way to go before we can think about gaming as your career option."

DOWNSIDES

Gaming has its downsides too like addiction and physical injuries. "Physical injuries relating to the eye, wrist, and back are also common as players play for continuous hours without getting a break," says Shenoy. Prajapati agrees, "I play on an arcade stick and I've seen people with thumb injuries, or elbow problems, or the most common problem gamers have is back ache which can turn chronic as we have to sit longer when gaming." Besides this, according to Payal, the need for more tournaments for female gamers is crucial too as it will provide a platform for female gamers to showcase their talents on an equal footing with their male counterparts."

Priya Kapoor

Feature Editor

Priya holds more than a decade of experience in journalism. She has worked on various beats and was chosen as a Road Safety Fellow in 2018, wherein she produced many in-depth & insightful features on road crashes in India. She writes on startups, personal finance and Web3. Outside of work, she likes gardening, driving and reading. She can be reached at her email id: kpriya@entrepreneurindia.com

 

 

 

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