Lokesh Suji, the director of the Esports federation of India speaks to Patriot regarding the esports scene in India and how it can be pursued as a career
How does a career in gaming look like in a country like India where parents want their children to become engineers and doctors?
This concern of “Parental Approval” is same in India like any other country. Gaming, which is the base to esports, is still considered as a leisure activity and waste of time. Let’s look at perception of sports in India: A decade back, playing cricket, badminton was considered waste of time but today as a parent you encourage your kids to get involved, send them to academies, as somewhere in the mind you always believe that your kid may turn out to be the next Sachin or Saina.
It’s never an easy process to change the perception but these perceptions will change and have started changing too. Which parent would have ever thought that by playing video games, their kids could represent and win medals for the country? That’s the change which inclusion of esports in Asian Games-2018 (where they were included as a demonstration title) has brought. Parents of our Indian team which played in Asian Games, called me personally to cross-check if this was true and not any kind of Joke.
What is the main source of earning for the players?
Generally, an esports athlete would earn from the winnings, salaries and brand endorsements, which run in plus million dollars for the pro athletes worldwide. In India, though, these earnings are meagre and come largely from winnings. There are only a couple of teams who get salaries and those salaries are also not much to boast about. There are a couple of athletes who have brand sponsorships too.
Live streaming has become another big source of earnings for athletes, who stream their game while they are practising/playing. Earnings are in the form of donations (viewers on these streams donate money) and advertisement revenue share (given by the streaming platforms like Twitch etc).
What are the major challenges faced by esports sector in India? Are there any plans to overcome them?
– Parental approval
– Government recognition
– Skill development
– Brand adoption
Inclusion of esports in Asian Games and our team’s performance has already got many heads turning, both from the perspective of parental consent and government recognition. As mentioned earlier, ESFI is already working on plans for training and skill development of the athletes.
Now, non-endemic brands have also started opening up with the idea of engaging with esports.
How do you see the esports landscape in India? How big is the industry in terms of revenue?
Esports in India has massive potential, which is yet to be tapped. With improved internet speeds, smart phone penetration, government digital push and highest youth population, there is no reason why India will not be one of the superpowers for esports. We created history for Indian esports when Tirth Mehta won Bronze (Hearthstone) and Karan Manganani was placed 4th (Clash Royale) in Asian Games this year.
This is the trigger point which Indian esports was waiting for, it has boosted confidence of many people who wanted to get involved in esports but were sitting on the fence. Gamers who were playing casually have started playing seriously as now they know that they can become esports athletes and build career in esports.