Chester King, CEO, British Esports Association, joined Vaibhav Dange of the Federation of Electronic Sports Associations India and David Martin, Director, Resolve Esports, to discuss the future of Esports during the CreaTech Digital Mission To India 2022
Below, there is an edited summary of their discussion.
How are Esports developing in India?
India’s digital infrastructure is paving the way for huge growth in Esports. Access to the internet is expanding rapidly and the country now has 900 million active internet users and 600 million smartphone users. There are 430 million mobile game users in India and though not all of them are playing Esports specifically, it shows there is a huge potential player and fan base. The Indian government has been very vocal about the importance of Esports in the future and is backing efforts to bolster the industry. Each of India’s states has its own Esports federation. Competitions are being held at school, college, state and national level. A recent national tournament saw 200, 000 players compete, watched by an audience of 15 million people.
How are traditional sports and Esports converging?
The biggest recruiter of Esports teams are currently sports bodies. F1 is a great example of how this is working. Williams is known as one of the world's leading Formula 1 teams, but it also now has a team of 30 Esports players. Last year Williams teamed up with Resolve to field a team in the Rocket League, a game which has been described as ‘football with cars’.
“Williams said we want to step outside where we are traditionally, but keep some synergy with what we’re known for,” said David Martin.
During Lockdown, F1 ran virtual driver series while drivers who are also gamers, such as Maclaren’s Lando Norris, hopped on Twitch. It’s a move that’s helping F1 reach new audiences, with 77% of audience growth in the 18 to 25 age group. Traditional sports are always worried about where ‘young eyeballs are going’, says Martin - and games - along with Netflix’s compelling docuseries ‘Drive To Survive’ - are helping F1 buck the trend.
Will we see Esports becoming part of traditional sports competitions?
It’s already happening. This year’s Asian Games will see eight medal events for Esports.
As part of his role on the Global Esports Federation, Chester King presented the concept for the Commonwealth Esports Championships to the Commonwealth Games committee. The team were nervous about how the idea would be received, but they Commonwealth committee proved ‘incredibly receptive’.
The championships will be held for the first time in Birmingham this year - separate but alongside the Commonwealth Games which are being held in August. The Commonwealth Esports Forum will also be held in the same week, bringing thought leaders from across the global industry together. King said he believed this would have a huge impact on the way the game is perceived among the wider public and hopes it will boost spectators and players.
What else is the Esports industry doing to move forward?
Esports constitutes only 1% of the wider games market, but it is already starting to put in place measures to create industry-standard training and qualifications. The British Esports Association has teamed with Pearson to create a new BTEC qualifications in Esports [link https://britishesports.org/education/esports-btec-qualification-info-students-teachers-pearson/] - the world’s first qualification of its kind for people wishing to pursue a career in Esports. It’s being offered by colleges in the UK and worldwide.
What’s the opportunity for brands?
‘Logo slaps’ don’t work when it comes to sponsoring teams. Brands need to work with teams to build authentic campaigns. The barrier of entry is not as high as you might expect - it does not need to be a six figure investment. There are plenty of teams willing to work with brands to create activations for closer to £10,000.
Choose from all sessions at the CreaTech Mission.