It Does Not Make Financial Sense for Any Global Team to Enter the Indian Market - Nimish Raut
In a live session with AFK Gaming, Nimish Raut, Global Head of Partnerships and Business Development (Consultant) at NODWIN Gaming discussed the future of esports in India, viewbotting in esports, and more. Raut believes that India needs to build its own identity to grow esports. One of the biggest challenges that the industry is facing currently, according to him, is that stakeholders do not focus enough on the players and teams, who serve as the backbone of the entire ecosystem.
Why global teams lack the incentive to invest in Indian esports
Raut talked about how making money in esports is very difficult if you are not a publisher. He said that the Indian esports ecosystem is too young and only really started taking off in 2019. But it was held back due to the global pandemic slowing things down in 2020, compounded by the PUBG Mobile ban in September. “Technically the Indian ecosystem is two and a half years old, and we are expecting too much out of it,” he said. “It is going to take a lot of good work from the likes of NODWIN Gaming, The Esports Club, Skyesports, AFK, 8Bit, Soul and other content creators and stakeholders”.
He went on to state that we all have a responsibility towards the Indian esports ecosystem. While the numbers, viewership, and downloads are there, a deep dive reveals that it does not make sense for stakeholders to invest in the industry as there is a lack of financial incentive. However, he feels that Indian esports has potential to make money but it cannot be limited to traditional forms of making money like media rights, sponsorship, partnerships, and merchandise sales.
These revenue sources are ultimately competing with traditional forms of entertainment, which makes it difficult for global businesses to invest in Indian esports.
"Right now, the math doesn't add up for the teams. It will add up very soon, it will all make sense very soon. But the onus will lie on multiple stakeholders and not just one," he added.
Does esports have a viewbotting problem in India?
AFK Gaming co-founder, Nishant Patel talked about potential viewbotting in Indian esports. There have been murmurs of viewbots being used to inflate viewership of certain Indian esports events, but AFK Gaming has been unable to independently verify such claims so far. On being asked about such activities being present in Indian esports, Raut chuckled, “In influencer streams, yes. In competitive esports, no. Unless you are talking about Free Fire!”
He believes that esports viewership is legitimate especially with organizers like The Esports Club managing to pull in a sizable amount of competitive viewers consistently during its events. He added that the viewer count for events in Indian esports look completely normal for esports titles like Valorant and BGMI. Raut feels that if someone viewbots in esports, “they are not valuing esports. They are undercutting competitors for business. Everyone needs to understand that when you undercut someone, you are cutting your own throat. The fight is not between multiple esports organizers, it is to grow the esports ecosystem.”
On the emergence of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in esports
Raut discussed the influence of cryptocurrency on esports with organizations like Riot Games adopting it. He feels that cryptocurrency is slowly becoming a part of esports and if done right, he sees no problem with it. Riot Games is one of the publishers that has been in the past, but it is within its esports ecosystem. He feels that it can lead to financial benefits for stakeholders in the industry and if publishers, broadcasters, and media partners can work things out, cryptocurrency can become a mainstay in esports.
Indian esports’ distinguishing factors and what is holding the country back
Some of the things that give India an edge over other regions in the world in esports, according to Raut, include the mobile-first nature of the Indian esports market, affordable connectivity, and the loyal fanbase that the country has. When it comes to the downsides of the Indian esports industry, Raut stressed that the community needs to build its identity. He feels that the sport should come first, and the industry needs to focus on its players and teams more.
Nimish Raut has been a part of organizations like Riot Games, Red Bull, and Star Sports. He was formerly the India Lead for Fnatic and he is currently working with NODWIN Gaming as the head of global esports partnerships and business development. He has first-hand experience working with the Indian and Southeast Asian esports industries and has in-depth knowledge of brand development.
*Disclaimer: NODWIN Gaming is a client of and an investor in AFK Gaming.