World Esports Day: Indian Esports Industry Stakeholders champion the transformation of Video Gaming into Mainstream Sports

World Esports Day: Indian Esports Industry Stakeholders champion the transformation of Video Gaming into Mainstream Sports

Gone are the days when Esports was stereotyped as a pastime activity. Esports all over the world has now transformed into a mainstream sporting and entertainment phenomenon, drawing in sponsors, athletes, and fans. 

So, video gaming enthusiasts converge on the 21st of October to celebrate the meteoric rise of this industry’s remarkable progress on ‘World Esports Day.’ This day serves as a reminder of how far the industry has come and how profoundly it has impacted the lives of millions worldwide.

According to  Newzoo’s Global Gamer Study Data 2023, 79% of the total online population engages with video games. The report also states that video games have become important marketing tools for many companies and 50% of players and/or viewers discovered new brands while gaming.

Sharing his insights on the growth of video gaming and brand deals within the ecosystem, Mr. Animesh Agarwal aka 8Bit Thug, Co-Founder of S8UL Esports and Founder & CEO of 8Bit Creatives commented, “The Esports industry, globally and in India, has evolved significantly in its ability to attract sponsors and brands. This transformation is driven by the immersive nature of gaming, allowing brands to connect deeply with their target audience. The response from fans and viewers offers brands a unique opportunity to enhance their visibility and influence. Gaming has become a dynamic platform that enables brands to engage with people in ways beyond traditional advertising, fostering exciting collaborations and an expanded presence in the gaming community”

The Indian Esports industry is witnessing not just brands but well-renowned mainstream sports athletes get associated with the sector. India’s sporting sensations Neeraj Chopra, Rohit Tokas and Pramod Bhagat recently appeared at the BGMI India Series final LAN event, demonstrating how the lines between traditional sports and Esports are blurring. Even the country’s other sporting icons such as M.S. Dhoni, Sunil Chhetri, and all-rounder Hardik Pandya have all joined the Esports revolution, becoming ambassadors for games such as Free Fire and BGMI.

Sahil Jakhar, also known as SOUL Omega, captain of Team SOUL, the champions of the Battlegrounds Mobile India Pro Series (BMPS) 2022, shared his thoughts on the impact of traditional sports athletes entering Esports, stating, “Esports and traditional sports share fundamental traits, including discipline, strategy and a competitive spirit. Witnessing cricket, football, boxing, and athletics stars become a part of Esports is truly inspiring for athletes like us. It validates the industry among the broader public who may still be unaware of its remarkable growth. Moreover, it serves as a driving force for players to grind hard with the aspiration of one day reaching the same heights as these legends in their respective sport.”

After being recognized as an official multi-sport event by the government in December 2022, Esports has been included as a full-fledged medal event at the Asian Games 2022 and has also been confirmed as a medal sport for the 2026 edition of the prestigious tournament.

Mr. Lokesh Suji, Director of Esports Federation of India (ESFI) and Vice-President of Asian Esports Federation (AESF) talks about the increasing visibility of Esports as a new-age sport and its inclusion at the Olympics someday. “After the presence of Esports at the Commonwealth Esports Championships, Asian Games 2022 as well as the introduction of the Olympics Esports Week, we are witnessing the growing visibility of Esports as a new-age sport. Going by the IOC President Thomas Bach’s positive comments at the 141st IOC Session in Mumbai regarding the development of the Olympic Esports Games, it is safe to say that it is not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when’ it will find its place as a medal sport at the Olympics. The global reach of Esports and its ability to unite people from different backgrounds make it a powerful contender for recognition on the world’s grandest sporting stage,” said Mr. Suji.

As Esports makes its way into the mainstream and major international tournaments, it leaves a lasting impact on the video gaming ecosystems of countries all over the world. Akshaj Shenoy, the captain of India’s League of Legends team that achieved a historic fifth-place finish at the Asian Games 2022 sheds light on this aftermath, saying, “Esports has started to become a serious and rewarding career option in India. The platforms, support, and recognition that we athletes receive today are unparalleled. Representing the country at the Asian Games in Hangzhou was an honor for me and I can surely say that aspiring Indian video gamers are already dreaming of competing for India in such a competition one day. India’s Esports ecosystem is all set to benefit from this participation through new talent right from the grassroots level that will proliferate the country’s presence on the global stage.”

Looking ahead, the future of Esports is promising. The integration of cutting-edge technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will offer new dimensions to the gaming experience. With the backing of industry leaders, influential athletes, and a growing fan base, the future holds limitless opportunities for Esports, not just in India but globally.

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