Ask any of the old guard to define the term “esports” and you will get very similar responses. By the broadest definition, for a game to be considered an esport title it must be multiplayer and must have organized spectator-friendly competitions that can be won primarily on the basis of skill (not chance) – both intellectual and physical. Games like PUBG Mobile, Dota 2, League of Legends, CS:GO and Valorant fit this definition perfectly. Games that do not require quick reflexes or hand-eye coordination like online Chess, Hearthstone, and Magic: The Gathering leave room for interpretation. Games like online Poker and Rummy (games of skill as declared by the courts of India) also fall into a similar category.
Yet some of India’s largest, investor-backed real money gaming (RMG) companies self-identify and market themselves as esports platforms even though the bulk of the games they offer are either single-player, casual or perceived games of chance.
Have they found an innovative way to fit the traditional definition of esports, or is this just a gimmick to separate themselves from the scores of RMG platforms in the country? Or worse still, could this be an attempt to avoid the legal and financial repercussions that come with online gambling in India? With insights from Akshat Rathee (co-founder, NODWIN Gaming) and Nimish Raut (India lead, Fnatic), this opinion piece aims to answer these and many more questions. The story also explores why the lack of clarity around the term “esports” could prove to be an existential threat for the industry in India, along with a possible solution.
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Note: There are multiple real-money gaming platforms in India today, both small and large. This story is an opinion piece that focuses only on those companies RMG companies that have claimed to be part of the esports industry.