Sports Nexus Series

Global eSports sectors roadmap for the fast-growing gaming market in India

The nexus between Sports and Business.

I wanted to share a very interesting case study in the emerging gaming and eSports sector of India. This is very interesting as the roadmap planned by the global eSports sector in India can be a useful blueprint for other sports entities trying to engage with fans and build their fan base in India.

The main emphasis is on the importance of localisation in the Indian market and what we can learn from the global esports sector.

Ever since the Indian government has given eSports a multi-sport category global players have activated their interest in the Indian market and the global players have realised the importance of the Indian market size and have started the process of localisation to suit the Indian market. 

And here’s how they are doing it:

1. Content-based localisation: Let me talk about Riot Games as an example. They introduced their first Indian character Agent Harbor, aka Varun Batra in their game Valorant. They launched the character with a big bang which included an outdoor campaign and unveiling an 8,400 sq ft long mural art and over fifteen billboards spread across the country to celebrate the success of its first Indian agent. They also localised a map in the game. The location and the design of the map is been inspired by traditional Indian stepwells, rock-cut architecture, and Dravidian-style structures.

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2. Local partnerships: The Indian gaming market is the second biggest market in the world and according to Lumikai Investment Advisors the Indian gaming market is projected to reach $8.6 billion financial year 2027. At 17%, the country had the highest share of game downloads globally in the last few years making local partnerships very important ways to gain a foothold in the country.

Riot Games tied up with gaming and esports companies and teams in India to launch their first Indian character. One of their prominent partnerships was with Team Orangutan which led to a nationwide amplification and a steady reach amongst eSports fans in India.

KRAFTON, Inc is another big-name publisher that has invested over $100 million in the Indian market across fields of interactive entertainment, gaming, Esports platforms, technology, and other community platforms. NODWIN, Loco, Partilipi, and KukuFM for ideas and content, and other companies such as Nautilus Mobile and LILA Games that are game developers are some of the local investments they have actively made.

3. M&A’s and funding: According to Lumikai’s report, gaming-based funding in India in 2022 was up 380% as compared to 2019 and up 23% against that in 2020 with Indian gaming companies raising a total of $2.8 billion in the last 5 years. Leading global funds such as Makers Fund, Tiger Global, Play Ventures, and Griffin Gaming Partners funds are actively investing in the Indian gaming business. Some of the beneficiaries in these fundings were Dream11, WinZo, Loco, Stellar Play, Games 24X7, MPL, All-Star Games, Stellar Play, and WinZo.

There was a huge M&A deal signed in India too. Sweden’s MTG acquired PlaySimple Games for $360 million is one such example.  

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Nilesh Deshmukh
I am passionate about sports and passionate about marketing. As a sports marketer, I have built significant expertise in successfully delivering medium to long term digital marketing strategy for global sports entities and brands like Arsenal FC, Manchester United FC, Chelsea FC, Major League Baseball, Formula E, and AELTC, etc to engage with their fans in India. I am currently based in London and lead India business at Engage Digital Partners.