Sabyasachi Bose decided to pursue gaming as a full-time career. Photo: Jithendra M./Mint
Satadru Bhaumik, a 25-year-old gamer for Nodwin Gaming, started off playing Counter-Strike 1.6 casually in college. He was drawn into serious gaming through multiplayer online games such as Dota 2, and decided to build his own team and participate in tournaments.
“I really wanted to get associated with e-sports for a stable career and I saw Nodwin conducting all these cool tournaments all around India. The path was clear for me, I didn’t have to sacrifice my gaming for a stable career.”
Similarly, 22-year-old Sabyasachi Bose did not think of gaming as a career option. He casually played games with friends. “As I played more and more, I got noticed by a semi-professional team and was invited to play and practise with them and eventually ended up playing my first tournament and I pretty much knew that this was it,’’ he says.
In 2011, Bose decided to pursue gaming as a full-time career. He decided to join OpTic Gaming as they brought the same international standards, coaching, analysts and exposure available to e-sports players in the US and Europe to India. He says that being a part of OpTic Gaming has helped him understand Counter -Strike Global Offensive at a much deeper level and has made him a better player. Bose is currently busy with the preparation for the ZOWIE eXTREMESLAND CS:GO Asia Open 2018—a major e-sport event happening next month in Shanghai.
Bhaumik and Basu are examples of how the gaming scenario has changed in India—from being a country where gaming was seen as an unproductive activity by many, to being perceived as a full-blown career.
“In e-sports, by the end of 2017 around ₹2 crore was paid out in prize money alone. This number will reach close to a $1 million next year or more. We have quickly become the top 20 countries in terms of e-sports market value,” says Akshat Rathee, managing director of Nodwin Gaming, leading e-sports company in India.
Big plans for India:The gaming boom in India is not limited to gamers. India has more than 250 game companies involved in the development process. Many of them are already developing games for major game studios. For instance, Pune-based Lakshya Digital has worked with Microsoft, Sony, Disney, Bandai Namco and Square Enix, on popular games such as Sea Of Thieves, State Of Decay 2, Middle Earth: Shadow Of War.
The winning prize is ₹50 lakh. ESL set a prize pool of ₹1 crore for the ESL India Premiership 2018, an ongoing gaming competition being broadcasted live on Dsport.
French company, Ubisoft, is planning to open a studio in Mumbai to assist with the development of the company’s major games.
Role of mobile gaming: The gaming industry in India has benefited a lot from growing smartphone penetration and availability of 4G speeds. But this is only the first step for serious gamers. “We believe smartphones will be the first gaming experience for people in India and they will evolve to be PC gamers in the 100-200 hour range,” says Rathee.
Some of the tournaments are dedicated entirely to mobile games. For example, Tencent Games is hosting a PUBG Mobile Campus Championship in 1,000 colleges in India between 26 September and 21 October.
Where India stands: China, which generated revenue of $15 billion in first quarter of 2018 alone, according to Beijing-based research agency CNG, and South Korea are huge major gaming markets blessed with a major push by the government in infrastructure. South Korea’s gaming centres and the large café system were made possible by nearly free internet in the last two decades, according to Rathee. He concludes, “We are nowhere close to that kind of planned growth. What we have is a great young population that is extremely tech savvy.” This, hope gaming experts, will set the right tone for professional gamers in India.